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Michigan Ave. Development South of River Hits Critical Mass

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[Millennium Park has been the major impetus for the revival of Michigan Avenue south of the river. Photo via the Curbed Chicago Flickr pool/Chris Wilson]

Long a runner-up when it comes to attracting top-flight restaurant and retail tenants, Michigan Avenue south of the river is undergoing a revival, according to a new Tribune article. Catalyzed by the traffic and tourist draw of Millennium Park, the area is also seeing increased retail activity. And with the coming opening of boutique hotels such as LondonHouse Hotel and the Chicago Athletic Association, the upswing shows signs of longevity.

Millennium Park's influence, along with the area's traditional arts and culture draw, have been primary drivers over the last decade, but new developments suggest the area's current growth spurt may just be starting, and that it may begin to compete against the draw of established areas such as the Mag Mile and River North. A downtown apartment boom should provide plenty of customers to help speed up retail and restaurant development in the area, which have been picking up with the opening of Alpana Singh's Seven Lions at 130 South Michigan, and future projects in the queue, such as the Land & Sea spot in the forthcoming Chicago Athletic Association space.

The Tribune article reported that rents are increasing and more tenants are looking south; with Wabash redevelopment on the drawing board, retail activity could really begin to spread past the Mag Mile/Oak Street strips that tend to dominate downtown shopping. Whether it's called the East Loop, or "Millennium Mile" -- please don't coin the term "MiSO"-- the combination of new buildings, a more balanced mix of businesses and increased tourist traffic should make this an interesting area for development.

·Michigan Avenue south of river coming into its own [Tribune]
·Previous Loop coverage [Curbed Chicago]