2002 Overview – Chicago Loop Retail Analysis

Loop retail maintains solid footing

At the end of the fourth quarter, 2002, Chicago’s Loop contained approximately 3,003,474 square feet of retail space. The Loop’s overall retail vacancy is 13.38% based upon total square footage, and 9.81% based upon the number of storefronts. The Loop boundaries are defined as Lake Michigan to the East, the Chicago River to the West, the Chicago River to the North and Congress Parkway to the South. For purposes of this analysis, department stores were excluded.

In terms of square footage (see chart above), fast casual food concepts (Sopraffina, Potbelly, Cafe Baci, Corner Bakery) hold the first position and apparel concepts (The Gap, Ann Taylor, Avenue) hold the second position. In terms of storefronts (below), traditional fast food concepts (McDonald’s, Subway, Panda Express) hold the number one position and fast casual food concepts hold the second position. Financial services (LaSalle Bank, Harris Bank, Bank One) and general merchandise (Hallmark Cards, Picture Us Galleries and cell phone stores) are the next most dominant categories.

Area-by-area analysis

Michigan Avenue Corridor
Chicago River south to Congress Parkway; Lake Michigan to the east side of Wabash Avenue

The Michigan Avenue Corridor contains approximately 752,149 square feet of reta il space, with vacancy at 18.90%. The exit of the Syms store on Wabash and Washington pushed the corridor’s vacancy rate above the Loop average. Approximately 100,000 additional square feet will come on line with the completion of The Heritage at Randolph & Wabash, presently under construction with an expected delivery in 2005. The opening of the Hard Rock Hotel at 230 N. Michigan, also under construction with an expected delivery date of Summer, 2003, will anchor this section of the Avenue and may provide the long-awaited bridge that connects Michigan Avenue south of the river to its more esteemed sister to the north.

Central Business District
West side of Wabash Avenue to the east side of Clark Street, and the Chicago River to Congress Parkway

The Central Business District contains approximately 1,101,699 square feet of retail space. The eventual development of Block 37 and the completion of Dearborn Center will significantly add to the retail square footage of this district. Approximately 133,664 square feet remains vacant, or 12.13%. As numerous apparel stores along State Street exist within this District, the CBD is the only trading area in which a non-restaurant category, apparel, holds the number one position in terms of square footage. However, fast food concepts still hold the largest percentage of storefronts.

Western Business District
From the west side of Clark Street to the Chicago River and the Chicago River to Congress

This submarket, containing 44 City blocks, is the largest district, and contains, therefore, the most retail square footage at 1,149,626 square feet and a vacancy rate of 10.96%, which, like the CBD, is below the Loop average. This district is characterized by an ever-increasing number of financial-based concepts, food and service tenants, drawn by the significant density of weekday office workers. Unlike the Michigan Avenue Corridor and Central Business district, most retailers in this district operate only 5 days per week, yet achieve significant sales volumes despite the lack of evening and weekend business.