Chicago Loop Alliance sees increase in foot traffic, proposes closing State Street to vehicles this summer

The Chicago Loop Alliance has proposed shutting down State Street once a week on Sundays over the summer to bring more pedestrians downtown and help revitalize businesses in the Loop.

Video Transcript

MARK RIVERA: Hey Cheryl. Yeah, so the Loop Alliance is proposing to close down State Street to vehicles from Lake three blocks down to Madison and bring businesses, and hopefully, people to come down and enjoy what the Loop, and what State Street, has to offer. And they're already seeing more people out than expected.

In July of 2020, things were looking bleak in the Loop. Pedestrian, traffic at only about 20% of pre-pandemic levels. Now, the latest Loop Alliance data from March shows foot traffic at about 56% of what it used to be. Not back to normal by any means, but a vast improvement.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Pedestrian counts, parking volumes, and even ridership on the trains, it's all going in the right direction, finally.

MARK RIVERA: And to bring more people and excitement to the Loop, the Loop Alliance is in talks to shut down State Street to vehicle traffic once a week on Sundays this summer from Lake to Madison bringing businesses and customers out in the street. Food and beverage, arts and culture, active recreation, come down and do yoga in front of the Chicago Theater.

AMY LAWLESS: I think it's going to be great exposure for all the businesses. You know, the more exposure we get right now, the better. Not just to restaurants, every business is struggling to get those people in their doors.

MARK RIVERA: Owner of the Dearborn, Amy Lawless, says she's seen a slow increase in foot traffic every week since her business reopened about a month ago. And she's eager to participate in Sundays on State. Scott Shapiro, owner of Syd Jerome menswear on Clark is slightly skeptical of the idea, but at this point--

SCOTT SHAPIRO: My knees actually hurt from pivoting so much, because we've got to keep redefining ourselves, trying to bring in new business, trying to address our customers' needs. I would entertain anything that somebody comes up with that is going to generate business.

MARK RIVERA: And shoppers we talked to agreed.

TIGIST DESALEGN: I'll come out and enjoy the [? time. ?] That seems like a fun thing to do. Yeah, get everybody out.

MARK RIVERA: So Sundays on State isn't supposed to start until July 11. That's what they're aiming for as their first date. Of course, we still do have a long way to go only at 56% of pedestrian traffic versus the normal year right now on State.