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Curbed Cup 1st Round: (1) South Loop vs. (16) West Loop

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The Curbed Cup, Curbed Chicago's annual Neighborhood of the Year tournament, is kicking off with 16 'hoods, which will square off in a series of one-on-one matchups. Voting for each matchup will close in the wee hours of the following day. We'll showcase two first round contests per day through the week with results reviewed on Friday. Let the eliminations begin!

Judging by all the enthusiastic nods to the South Loop, it must be a terrific place to live. The cheerleaders will tell you it's a highly successful new neighborhood that pays its respects to historical precursors like Prairie Ave's mansions and the site of the battle of Fort Dearborn. But it's no secret that the area was overbuilt and has had trouble attracting retail and restaurants to its main drags. The year saw some recovery in the apartment sector, with the 396-unit Golub building about to get underway at State & 9th. There's also great anticipation for Motor Row redevelopment and some form of McCormick-adjacent mega development (hotel or sports arena). Roosevelt Collection is finally lining up retail, and The Maxwell has broken ground on 215,000 square feet of commercial space (absent a residential component). "If the retail keeps gaining momentum you won't find a better neighborhood," offers one nominator. Oh, and a new green line station is planned for late-2014.

Hmm? What neighborhood is best positioned to contend with the South Loop's claims? Probably its natural rival and alter ego West Loop. The area is a step ahead in many respects— cohesiveness, vitality, amenities, and the rehab and reuse of many older structures. A major commercial/light manufacturing transformation of the Fulton Market Cold Storage facility is underway, approvals are in for the giant One South Halsted with its 492 apartments. Smaller developments are also gaining traction. On the amenity front, Mariano's, Target, and Walmart have all recently opened (not everyone is celebrating), and restaurants keep piling in along restaurant row. And the West Loop just got a new Green Line station, at Morgan and Lake. No waiting til 2014. Alright guys, time to settle the score!

Poll results