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Open thread: How much longer will the current development boom last?

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Chicago’s real estate market could be hit hard in the case of any economic downturn

Like many other cities throughout the nation, Chicago has witnessed a major uptick in new construction and major infrastructural improvements in recent years. There are numerous reasons why the downtown skyline is full of construction cranes, but the increasing growth of Chicago tourism and the strong job market have played a very important role in the city’s latest development boom. Developers can’t seem to build new hotels, office space, and apartment towers fast enough to meet the demand for these uses.

At Curbed Chicago, we have been tracking the number of active high-rise projects since October of 2014. At that time, there were 14 such projects underway. In our latest update from last month, we found that there were 44 high-rise projects under construction throughout Chicago. The list does not include the dozens of others high-rise projects that are currently in the planning and approval phases. And in some neighborhoods, particularly the West Loop and the Milwaukee Avenue Corridor that passes through Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Logan Square, it has been years since so much new construction has been witnessed.

And while Chicago’s development boom is nothing to sneeze at, we’re actually not seeing the levels of new construction that other major cities are witnessing. Texas metros are leading the way in terms of new apartment construction, meanwhile New York is getting dozens of new buildings designed by star architects.

Some have speculated that due to Chicago and Illinois’ longstanding budget issues and massive debt burdens that even the slightest economic downturn could land a devastating blow to the Windy City’s revitalization. And at the same time, major election cycles, like the presidential election, can also breed economic uncertainty. Times are good for downtown office workers and developers, but how much longer will it last?