A World of Possibilities Awaits You in Chicago’s New Motor Row Entertainment District
Located near the Hyatt Hotel at McCormick Place Convention Center, 2317 South Michigan is an excellent opportunity for retail, entertainment and restaurant uses. This property is located in the heart of Chicago’s historic Motor Row Entertainment District and the booming South Loop.
In October 2011, the City of Chicago designated Motor Row as an entertainment district (the only district with such designation in the City), showing the City’s confidence in and commitment to the development of the area. As a result of this important zoning designation, there will be a streamlined approval process for building permits, licensing, noise ordinances, signage and more for developers in the Motor Row District.
Motor Row is also designated as a Chicago Landmark District, one of only fifty landmark districts located within the city. While the landmark designation provides legal protection to the area, it more importantly signifies that Motor Row is regarded as a critical part of the City’s history. It also highlights the distinctive theme and high degree of architectural significance found throughout the Motor Row corridor.
The City completed a street beautification initiative in the Motor Row District, putting into place the necessary infrastructure upgrades and decorative elements. Also, since designating Motor Row as an entertainment district, the City has recently committed more than $9.5 million to further enhance the infrastructure, beautify the area and make it more pedestrian friendly by widening the sidewalks, adding landscape and distinctive signage. Further, the City has torn down vertical lower-income housing formerly located in the adjacent neighborhood, which is currently the home of a beautiful neighborhood park and the National Teachers Academy.
Also announced in October 2011 was the City’s approval of the Chicago Transit Authority’s plan to build a $55 million Green Line train stop at 23rd and State Streets, which will serve Motor Row, McCormick Place and the South Loop. This new Green Line stop will also play an integral role in connecting these areas to both Midway and O’Hare airports. The construction of the new train began in 2013 and is scheduled to be completed in late 2014. The City of Chicago is ready to begin the $9.5 million worth of improvements to the Motor Row District street-scape plan which is scheduled to begin in June 2014.
The South Loop has recently seen a surge of renovated and new condominium structures throughout the area. The South Loop also features many bars, restaurants, and attractions that continue to draw residents and visitors to the area. Some of these attractions include:
- Soldier Field
- The Field Museum
- The Chicago Firehouse
- Shedd Aquarium
- Grant Park
- Illinois Institute of Technology
- Mercy Hospital
- Roosevelt University
- University of Illinois Chicago
- White Sox Park
- University of Chicago
- McCormick Place
- Millenium Park
- Lake Michigan
- Chicago’s Magnificent Mile
- Columbia College
The History of Motor Row
The proliferation of the automobile in the early 20th century sparked a building boom as cities scrambled to erect buildings to support the growth of the automobile industry and cater to owners of this new form of transportation. The City of Chicago led the way with a row of custom-constructed buildings located on South Michigan Avenue between 22nd and 24th Street that were designed to showcase and market automobiles (“Motor Row”). Chicago’s Motor Row included showrooms for such brands such as Studebaker, Ford, Cadillac, Locomobile, Hudson, and Pierce Arrow, to name just a few. Names of these early automobile companies are still visible on many of the buldings’ brick and terra cotta facades. The streetwall formed by the continuous masonry fronts of the showroom buildings elicits an image of Chicago at the beginning of the last century, when urban development and the automobile became the American way of life.
Motor Row’s location was chosen for its proximity to the City’s wealthy, otherwise known as the “First Families” of Chicago including: A. Montgomery Ward, Marshall Field, George Pullman, Carson Pirie Scott amongst others, who resided on Prairie Avenue in the South Loop. However, the automobile itself and the development of an automobile-safe bridge across the Chicago River ultimately led to Motor Row’s demise. As the South Loop and Motor Row area grew and developed, so did the noise and the congestion. The wealthy residents to whom Motor Row catered eventually grew tired of the crowds and the clamor that accompanied South Michigan Avenue and followed the newly-paved road into the Gold Coast, an area designated as an exclusive residential district farther north and closer to the lake. Residing near the railroad tracks, which had once been deemed a luxury, was no longer necessary with the adoption of the automobile.
The exodus of Chicago’s First Families to the Gold Coast proved to be a catalyst for change in the character of South Michigan Avenue. Both residents and business owners fell for the allure of the newly-paved North Michigan Avenue, and the advantages and opportunities that accompanied being near the City’s Loop. Ultimately this migration, coupled with the impact of the Great Depression, created an unsustainable state for the once-thriving Motor Row.