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Madison retail initiative open for business

New information about household wealth, building permits and home prices indicates that the time is finally right for development of more retail stores along Madison Street west of the Loop.

The growing retail node at Madison and Western will be the jumping-off point for the Madison Revitalization Initiative.

The Near West Side community area has experienced a 61 percent rise in home prices and a 41 percent increase in homebuyer income over the past seven years, according to a new study by LISC MetroEdge. The area had nearly 2,000 new construction permits in 2006 alone.

In the smaller West Haven neighborhood -- a section of the Near West Side that runs from Damen west to Rockwell avenues, and from Kinzie Avenue south to the Eisenhower Expressway – median income rose 275 percent and residential development has totaled $425 million since 2000. The number of middle- and upper-income households has risen 170 percent since 1990.

That means the area two miles west of the Loop now has $91 million in concentrated buying power, $10 million per square mile more than the county average, according to the LISC MetroEdge analysis.

Yet West Haven lacks retail stores in many categories, with a net $70 million spent outside the community on goods and services every year.

Retail revival
Using MetroEdge’s analysis, the Near West Side Community Development Corp. joined LISC/Chicago and local banks and investors on Nov. 5 to announce the Madison Revitalization Initiative, through which those stakeholders will work together to attract retail and services.

The historic West Town State Bank building at Madison and Western, once home to a black radio station in the 1930s and 1940s, now features one- and two-bedroom apartments. 

“There is, in fact, money to be made in the neighborhood,” said Joel Bookman, director of programs for LISC/Chicago.

The “underserved but viable market” in West Haven lacks such basic amenities as a grocery store, a dry cleaner and a hardware store. In the recently updated NCP quality-of-life plan for the community, task force members identified commercial development as a priority, envisioning a “gateway” retail cluster around Damen and Madison.

“We recognize that community revitalization must be comprehensive in order to develop a healthy community,” said Earnest Gates, executive director of Near West Side CDC. “Retail development provides residents with increased accessibility to services, and it will also provide the community with more revenue to continue developing the neighborhood. The LISC MetroEdge report provides us with the data we need to approach investors and show the untapped consumer potential here.”

Residential surge
In quantifying that potential, the Near West Side CDC points to the $650 million in residential investment in the past eight years, more than 32,000 square feet of storefront space built in the past two years, traffic counts of more than 25,000 cars at Madison and Western, strong institutions from the regional draw of the United Center to a local community baseball program, and access to Interstate 290, two “El” lines, and the Madison Street bus, which has nearly 23,000 riders daily, second highest in the city.

This crane has plenty of company: West Haven has seen residential development totaling $425 million since 2000. 

As it stands now, residents spend $70 million outside the community. MetroEdge uses data from the national research firm Claritas to quantify this “leakage,” which is the difference between residents’ expenditures and estimated retail sales in the area.

The area could support an additional $3.3 million in apparel sales and more than 10,000 square feet of retail space in that category. For general merchandise, the study showed $7.8 million in potential sales and more than 23,000 square feet. For grocery stores, MetroEdge forecasts an additional $9.7 million in demand from area residents.

MetroEdge pointed to specific positive signs like the opening of All Star Dental in 5,000 square feet of space next to Walgreen’s at Madison and Western, the 14 businesses providing 126 jobs funded through the $1.5 million United Center Community Economic Development Fund, and strong public investment like the transformation of the Rockwell and Horner public housing sites and the erection of the Mabel Manning Public Library.

To download a Powerpoint presentation provided by MetroEdge, please click here.

To see the Chicago Sun-Times article on the Nov. 5 unveiling of the Madison Revitalization Initiative, please click here.

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