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Mayor Johnson announces new measures to help Loop businesses


Mayor Brandon Johnson said Thursday that the city will provide more support to restaurants and stores in the Loop, an area still trying to fully recover from the pandemic.

Ceres Café in the Chicago Chamber of Commerce building and 135 W. Madison St. Six restaurants, including The Roanoke at , will receive grants of up to $250,000 for storefront and interior renovations, marking the first time the city has benefited from the Small Business Development Fund. Johnson said in support of downtown at the annual meeting of the Chicago Loop Alliance, an advocacy group.

The city will also pay for improvements to the future site of the downtown museum that showcases the history of the Board of Trade. Other Loop businesses can apply for a new round of funding in September.

“We’re just getting started,” Johnson told about 400 attendees at Convene at Willis Tower.

Most companies brought employees back to the office at least a few days a week, and downtown foot traffic is up 22% since 2022, according to a Chicago Loop Alliance report. But Mondays and Fridays can still seem sparse, with few customers for street-level businesses and about a quarter of downtown retail space remaining vacant.

The mayor has clashed with business leaders recently. Bring an offer to Chicago HomeThat would raise taxes on all property sales over $1 million, but he said he wants their help to revive the Loop. This spring, the city will create a new downtown advisory committee made up of 40 members from the business and tourism communities who will help shape an updated plan for the central business district.

Johnson noted that Loop businesses have received a lot of good news lately. JPMorgan Chase announced it will launch a new campaign on Monday. Multi-year renovation of Chase TowerInstead of seeking new office space for the building’s 7,200 employees, 10 S. Dearborn St. Choose the iconic 60-storey skyscraper at. The move follows Google’s decision to take over the now-vacant James R. Thompson Center in 2022 and turn it into a hub for thousands of well-paid tech workers.

“They believe in the promise of this city,” Johnson said. “I’m always glad people are willing to bet on Chicago.”

Executive Quintin Primo said Google was committed to a major expansion in Chicago because of a large pool of well-educated employees, but was reluctant to take over the Thompson Center, which was originally designed by Helmut Jahn and has been plagued by heating and cooling problems for years. Capri Investment Group chairman during the question-and-answer session of Thursday’s meeting.

But a late-night visit to the 17-story glass-and-steel building and a look at the soaring atrium convinced company officials, said Primo, who co-developed the site with commercial real estate veteran Mike Reschke.

“Mike and I convinced them that this was truly a Google-quality building,” Primo said.

Its location on downtown’s busiest transit hub is also a plus, he added. While other high-profile firms such as Boeing and Ken Griffin’s hedge fund Citadel have recently moved their headquarters out of Chicago, Google’s decision should create a much larger ripple effectIt brings even more jobs and activity to the Loop.

“Chicago’s core strengths are indisputable,” Primo said.

The startup, led by Primo and Reschke, will begin floor-by-floor intestinal rehabilitation at the Thompson Center later this month, and Google plans to begin moving in by 2026.

The duo also lives at 111 West Monroe St. He is also behind the transformation of the former BMO Harris Bank building at , into hundreds of apartments and a hotel as part of the LaSalle Street Reimagined project. The initiative, launched by former Mayor Lori Lightfoot, aims to transform vacant financial district office space into nearly 1,000 apartments, including hundreds of affordable units.

“We are betting big on Loop and will continue to do so,” Reschke said.


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