After more than a year of research, the Chicago Loop Alliance revealed two dozen ideas for transforming the dark Wabash corridor into a downtown commercial and entertainment center, hoping to activate an important bridge between high-traffic areas of the Loop and revitalize the stretch. The 24 recommendations run from common sense concepts such as graffiti removal to the Wabash Lights project, an installation that would illuminate the underside of the L with colorful LED lighting. The long-term vision is to create special districts in the area to attract and retain business while taking advantage of the connective potential two upcoming infrastructure projects, the Washington Wabash L station and bus rapid transit in the Loop.
Labeled "layers of transformation," the different steps, part of a multi-year evolution of Wabash, would beautify and revitalize the area while laying the foundation for different business districts. The price tags for the proposals being floated by the CLA would vary from less than $50,000 to a handful costing half a million or more. The CLA is looking towards new partners, such as the Chicago Department of Transportation, building owners or downtown art institutions, as well as grants, to help provide funding.
The Chicago Loop Alliance eventually wants to brand and build up different sections of the neighborhood to create special areas of the Loop, such as a nightlife district centered around the north end of the street near the new Virgin Hotel. The CLA also suggested transforming the east side of Wabash between Madison and Monroe streets into a maker district, hoping to attract digital manufacturing and design companies with lower rents and close proximity to downtown schools. An art street on Adams between State and Michigan was also floated, as well as a "container village" at the south end of Wabash, perhaps creating a street market or the kind of food truck pods found in other cities.
·Group lays out its plans to spiff up Chicago's Wabash Avenue [Chicago Tribune]
·Previous Wabash Avenue coverage [Curbed Chicago]
·Previous Loop Alliance Coverage [Chicago Curbed]