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Strategic Action Plan for the Chicago Loop

Posted by Content Coordinator on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013


Executive Summary

The 2013 Strategic Action Plan defines a path forward for Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA). The organization’s leaders and stakeholders identified a bold new vision of the Chicago Loop as a vibrant global business center and recognized world class destination. To secure that vision, Loop stakeholders created a clear mission statement firmly grounded in the organization’s history, charging CLA with the mission of creating, managing and promoting high-performing urban experiences, attracting people and investment to the Loop.

The Strategic Action Plan provides focus and direction for CLA activities over the next five years. It articulates the organization’s core values and competencies, and presents a detailed series of strategic objectives, plus corresponding projects and programs for realizing those objectives. This plan describes measurable indicators and targets to manage CLA performance in the coming years. It also recommends organizational changes that will improve CLA operations and support plan implementation. Four program areas and four associated catalytic initiatives provide a focus for CLA action.

A. Beautification and Enhanced Services

Strive for constant and continued improvements to the cleanliness, beautification, hospitality, safety and maintenance of the Loop’s streets, sidewalks and common areas.

Catalytic initiative #1: enhancing hospitality
A more intensive hospitality, social service and ambassador program will assure a positive “highperformance” Loop experience for all users, and advances many of the Strategic Action Plan objectives, including increased late night activity and student safety. This comprehensive program will include outreach for persons in need, hospitality for Loop visitors and ambassador services to provide information and assistance.

B. Planning and Advocacy

Provide planning and project review and advocate for important Loop issues, to improve the ability of the Loop to compete for investment and help Loop stakeholders achieve their property and investment goals.

Catalytic Initiative #2: Creating a More Robust District for Doing Business
The extension of the Special Service Area (SSA) boundary will have a major impact on virtually all Strategic Action Plan objectives, leading to full realization of CLA’s vision. CLA’s sole service provider contract with the City of Chicago and SSA will expire in 2016. In anticipation of this date, CLA will actively pursue the renewal and expansion of the SSA and bring the added value of SSA services to many more Loop businesses and property owners.

C. Placemaking and Management

Improve the quality of the public realm, creating a distinctive sense of place and strong sense of arrival into the Loop.

Catalytic Initiative #3: Activating Places
Streetscape and intersection improvements have the potential to advance multiple Strategic Action Plan objectives, including breaking down barriers between the Loop and surrounding areas, improving street safety and sense of place, enhancing gateways and integrating all transportation modes and the pedestrian environment.

D. Economic Development

Facilitate the development of a vibrant Loop by supporting increased public and private investment in retail, office, tourism and residential development.

Catalytic Initiative #4: Transforming Wabash Avenue
Revitalizing Wabash Avenue has the potential to increase pedestrian access and connectivity to the Loop for the millions of visitors to Millennium Park every year. A transformed Wabash Avenue will become a “must see” Chicago destination impacting multiple Strategic Action Plan objectives, including improved gateways and increased pedestrian connectivity. Wabash Avenue will highlight and celebrate the iconic “L” as a benefit to residents, visitors, tenants, property owners and investors alike.

The overall charge of CLA staff, Board and committees is to realize the goals, objectives and actions for each program area as outlined in this plan.

Going Forward

City centers worldwide are taking advantage of the opportunities created by baby boomers, creative Millennials, technology and global investment. Downtowns have regained their footing as centers of commerce, education, living and entertainment.

The Chicago Loop, long considered America’s most authentic urban downtown, has continued to thrive over the last ten years despite the impact of the Great Recession. The Loop enjoys dynamic economic drivers including office, retail, residential, tourism, education, lodging, arts and culture, all providing the fuel for continued growth. New office developments, remarkable retail offerings, dynamic educational institutions, world-class culture and visitor attractions will continue to enhance the Loop’s vitality. Service by the iconic “L”, regional trains and alternative transportation options make the Loop hyperconnected into the future.

In order to amplify these assets, take advantage of opportunities and meet future challenges, downtown leaders intend to take strategic action. CLA has developed a vision for guiding the future of the Loop through this Strategic Action Plan.

The vision for the Loop and the Strategic Action Plan are not static. The Loop is ever changing as priorities shift, objectives change and new developments impact the social and economic dynamic of the Loop. Therefore, this Strategic Action Plan is a working document; it is a flexible tool that will evolve with the Loop as it changes and grows over the coming years.

Loop Area Strategy Diagram

The Loop Area Strategy diagram (opposite page) provides a structure for prioritizing activities related to the Strategic Action Plan. It depicts the relationship between current economic uses, transportation and circulation patterns, the potential SSA expansion area, and identified gateway linkages, such as Millennium Park, the South Loop and the Chicago River. This organizing concept is reflective of the Board retreat discussion and ensures that different Loop activities and economic drivers—such as retail, education, residential, theatres and office uses—support, rather than compete, with one another.

The diagram focuses on key projects, around which CLA will continue building consensus and support to enhance the function of the Loop as a whole. Within this context, the four catalytic initiatives— including enhanced hospitality, a more robust business district, place activation and a transformed Wabash Avenue—will provide a roadmap for projects that will intensify high-performing urban experiences that attract people and investment.

Loop Area Strategy Diagram 

Download full version (PDF): Chicago Loop Alliance Strategic Action Plan 2013

About the Chicago Loop Alliance
Chicago Loop Alliance creates, manages and promotes high-performing urban experiences, attracting people and investment to the Loop. The organization was founded in 2005 following a merger between the Central Michigan Avenue Association and the Greater State Street Council, which was created in 1929 and consisted of local merchants eager to promote economic prosperity for their businesses during the Great Depression. Its project boundaries are the Chicago River on the north and west, Congress Parkway on the south, and generally Michigan Avenue on the east, with a few blocks extending northeast to Columbus Drive in an area north of Millennium Park called Lakeview East.

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