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Curbed Cup 1st Round: (5) The Loop vs. (12) River North

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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!

For those who don't think of The Loop as a neighborhood, it might be time to reconsider. The surging downtown population is, without a doubt, drawn to the bustle and concentrated culture the Loop affords. But there are more 'neighborly' assets these days as well: supermarkets and big box stores have effectively ringed the district, North Grant Park is getting a family-friendly overhaul, and higher-ed expansion is, in some cases, enlivening the area (RU's new Goodman Center, East-West's and RU's infill student housing). Vintage buildings are getting residential conversions, and amenity-rich new construction (here and here) is accelerating. Both are capitalizing on soaring rents and demand for Loop living. Then there's all the office projects in the works. Oh, and let's not forget all the hoopla surrounding Rahm's riverwalk makeover.

The Loop's bosom buddy River North has been experiencing similarly explosive vertical growth this past year, with residential projects AMLI River North and Habitat Tower, hospitality projects Godfrey Hotel (formerly Staybridge) and the Tri-Hotels, and, last but not least, the office/hotel tower cluster at Wolf Point. That's been shelved for the moment, but by no means is it stagnant. The real question is whether this total package of intensification is the kind of change longtime residents and local businesses want for their neighborhood.
·Curbed Cup 2012

Poll results