West Loop Metramarket

Finally looks like some movement in the promised development in the current Union Pacific parking garage. The signs have been up for maybe 2 years, promising 'coming soon'. We live in sort of a canyon between the loop/downtown, and everything west of Halsted. There aren't really many retail stores, or restaurants less than 6 blocks away. Meiji is a great addition (get Maki made with cucumber instead of rice, damn that's delectable), but one cannot eat sushi every day, even if it is delicious.

One new commercial development is bound to make the West Loop more appetizing to home buyers as well as office workers.

MetraMarket, a $47 million project of U.S. Equities Realty and Metra, will transform the area north of the Ogilvie Transportation Center (formerly the Chicago & North Western Station) into a mix of restaurants, retail and a “French-type marketplace,” according to Bob Wislow, chairman of Chicago-based U.S. Equities.

Planned since 2001, construction is scheduled to start by year-end with the businesses opening in stages in the fall of 2006. It is designed by OWP&P Architects, Chicago.

You might ask yourself: Isn't this area already served by the restaurants in Greektown on Halsted Street or those along Randolph Street? The answer is that Greektown is west of the Kennedy Expressway and so are most of the Randolph Street restaurants. And the restaurants of the Loop are east of the Chicago River. The Kennedy and river serve as neighborhood definers and barriers.

MetraMarket will close what Wislow called a “hole” and a “wall between two incredibly developing parts of the city -- east of the facility, the office development and tremendous conversions of lofts along Canal Street and north, and the huge development on the west side of the train tracks,” where five new office buildings have gone up “in addition to an amazing” upswing in residential, Wislow said

Tribune's Wayne Faulkner


The 200,000-square-foot development, which will include parking, will be a destination, meant to draw crowds six days a week, according to Wislow, U.S. Equities Vice Chairman Camille Julmy and Vice President Cassandra Francis, who spoke in an interview last week.

Wislow explained that restaurants in neighborhoods often are evening establishments and don't serve lunch, while downtown the restaurants have concentrated on lunch rather than dinner.

“The beauty of [MetraMarket] is that this will have the lunch business, but because all this residential has grown up this will be an evening destination and a weekend destination. We'll allow our restaurants to spill out onto the streets,” Wislow said.

“The middle of the project is going to be a permanent French-type marketplace, a huge enclosed space. Surrounding that on the outside will be the restaurants and some other service retail for the neighborhood,” Wislow continued. Restaurants will range from the higher end of fast food to sit-down, white-tablecloth establishments.

U.S. Equities is in negotiations with Bensidoun, the largest operator of markets in Paris, to operate the marketplace, Wislow said.

The Chicago City Council still must approve some $12 million in TIF (tax increment financing) subsidies proposed for the project, which was approved as a planned development in 2001.

In 2001, residential and office development in the area was in its infancy. Plus, the business climate was spoiled by the effects of Sept. 11, Wislow said

Update 2006, looks like things might, might, might be progressing.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on March 20, 2005 10:27 AM.

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