The Changing Face of Chicago's West Loop

April 29,2015 | By Elizabeth Nazarian

Think you know the West Loop? Can you close your eyes and visualize it? The century old low-rise storefronts of various shades of brick and the large old yellow and red brick warehouses and factories with their impressive metal loading docks lining Randolph and Lake? Think again. The face of the West Loop is changing dramatically due to a spur of building activity. Everywhere you look, from Canal on the east to Ashland on the West, new construction abounds in various stages of completion. This is a really exciting moment in time for this nook of Chicago, as you can still capture the industrial, gritty feel of a bygone meatpacking era, but this stretch of the city will likely look and feel profoundly different than it does now in just a few years' time. Low-rise mixed-use buildings of 2-3 units will mostly be replaced with high-end mid-rises and towering glass and steel high-rises.

Just a few inimitable screetscapes in Chicago's West Loop:

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There are already a lot of very desirable new construction and rehabbed residential condo and rental buildings. The hottest rental buildings include the Madison at Racine at 1164 W Madison, Circa 922 at 922 W Washington, Arkadia Tower, JeffJack at 601 W Jackson, the Catalyst at 123 N Des Plaines, Presidential Towers at 555 W Madison, Randolph Street Lofts at 1313 W Randolph, 180 N Jefferson, Lux24 at 24 S Morgan, and the brand new Gateway at 11 S Green. Some of the most sought after condo buildings include CA3 at 1110 W Adams, Randolph Place at 165 N Canal, 125 S Green, 225 S Sangamon, and many more.

The Madison at Racine

The Madison at Racine, 1164 W Madison, West Loop, West Loop neighborhood guide, Chicago neighborhood guide

The Gateway

The Gateway, 11 S Green, West Loop, West Loop neighborhood guide, Chicago neighborhood guide

Circa 922

Circa 922, 922 W Washington, West Loop, West Loop neighborhood guide, Chicago neighborhood guide

Randolph Street Lofts

Randolph Street Lofts, 1313 W Randolph, West Loop, West Loop neighborhood guide, Chicago neighborhood guide

The push for more residential housing units in the West Loop is a logical result of the neighborhood's recent success in attracting many tech jobs. The West Loop is to house the new offices of Google, Twitter, and Uber, in addition to being home to many other large and small tech companies. The area is a hub for some of Chicago's most exciting tech startups. And, not surprisingly, many of these firms' employees want to be able to walk or ride a bike to work.

Those who live in the West Loop may also want to play in the West Loop. And they won't be disappointed. The area is home to some of the city's most fashionable and prestigious restaurants, including Blackbird, Girl and the Goat, Au Cheval, Tete Charcuterie, the Publican. The neighborhood also has just about everything that you'd expect a Chicago neighborhood to offer, including yoga studios, dog groomers, boutique retailers, etc. As of March, there is even a Whole Foods.

The fact that getting to and from the West Loop is a cinch only helps propel the rapid redevelopment of the area. It's just steps from the loop, the city's business nexus. Public transportation abounds, including the elevated train and scores of CTA buses. And it's adjacent to several of Chicago's main highways.

Indeed, the West Loop is so desirable on so many fronts, you almost wonder how it has managed to maintain its gritty urban ethos to date. For now, you can still experience echoes of the West Loop's former life as an industrial district. But for how long? My advice, enjoy it while it lasts, because it really is something special. I love zigzagging across Randolph, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of this inimitable space and time.

Just One Example of the Construction Boom in Chicago's West Loop Neighborhood, at Halsted and Lake

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Another New Construction Project in the West Loop, also at Halsted and Lake

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