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Mayor Rahm Emanuel today joined Alderman Walter Burnett (27th Ward) and West Loop stakeholders to cut the ribbon on the first phase of the Fulton Market Streetscape, a community-inspired modernization of the corridor that is Chicago’s first wholesale market and now is an incubator for the City’s thriving tech economy. As the first phase of the project wraps up from Halsted Avenue to Carpenter Street, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced it will launch work in the coming weeks on the second phase from Carpenter to Ogden Boulevard.
“The new streetscape is a major milestone in the redevelopment of Fulton Market, an area that was Chicago’s economic engine in the 19th Century that has been reborn and is now powering the City’s tech boom,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Working closely with Alderman Burnett and the community, we have invested to modernize the existing infrastructure and restore this historic area to make it safer for pedestrians and suitable for the mixed-use economy of the 21st Century.”
The City Council designated the Fulton-Randolph Market District as a Chicago Landmark in July 2015. The streetscape plan was developed in cooperation with Alderman Burnett and community stakeholders, including the West Loop Community Organization (WLCO), and the Department of Planning and Development (DPD). The design is intended to make the neighborhood more pedestrian-friendly, while preserving its historic character and accentuating historic elements of the neighborhood’s architecture.
"The Fulton Market Streetscape Project is already providing a safer environment for pedestrians and creating a more vibrant neighborhood," Alderman Burnett said. “The success of the plan was evident this summer during the weekly market held in the corridor.”
The WLCO-sponsored weekly market, the Fulton Market Expo (FMX), is a community marketplace which celebrates local farmers, artists and makers. It is seasonally based at Fulton Market between Peoria and Green Streets. The block, first constructed in 1887 as the historical Fulton Street Wholesale Market, was the headquarters of Chicago's meatpacking consortium — a conglomerate of twenty-two individual companies. Today, the corridor bustles with world class restaurants and businesses.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the City on the advancement and development of the Fulton Market corridor,” said Carla Agostinelli, executive director of WLCO, which has been supporting economic and community development in the neighborhood since 1991.
The Streetscape plan was approved by the Landmarks Commission in 2015. A gateway arch was constructed at the entrance to the district on Fulton Market west of Halsted Street in 2015.
“The Fulton Market Streetscape Project is a great demonstration of CDOT’s commitment to designing streetscapes that build on a neighborhood’s unique features,’” CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said. “Every streetscape project requires a fresh approach. We were very pleased to be able to work with community stakeholders to come up with a flexible design that accommodates the evolving land uses and preserves Fulton Market’s historic feel, while harnessing the creative energy that has blossomed in the neighborhood in recent years.”
“Fulton Market has been a vital part of the Kinzie Industrial Corridor for more than a century, and the streetscape project ensures it will serve the needs of local businesses for many decades to come,” said DPD Commissioner David Reifman.
The streetscape improvements include the full reconstruction of the roadway and installation of new ADA ramps and a flex-street design that has no curbs on some blocks. It also includes hook-ups for potable water and electricity to accommodate the Local Makers Market farmers’ market.
Other features include:
Work on the second phase from Carpenter to Ogden is expected to be complete by the end of 2019. The total construction cost for both phases of the project is $20.3 million.
Throughout the work, Fulton Market will remain open to motorists and pedestrians and access to businesses and residences will be maintained.
Characterized by a rare ensemble of manufacturing and warehouse buildings, the Fulton-Randolph Market District encompasses 142 properties on the Near West Side, primarily along the 700 to 1000 blocks of West Randolph Street, the 100 to 300 blocks on North Sangamon Street, the 900 block of West Lake Street and 800 to 1100 blocks of West Fulton Market Street.
The area initially grew as Chicago’s main food market with the construction of a municipal market hall in the middle of Randolph, west of Des Plaines Street, in 1850. The area subsequently flourished as a wholesale market and distribution center for agricultural products from across the Midwest and West.
In addition to food marketing and processing, the district includes a number of historic manufacturing and warehouse buildings that reflect a broader pattern of industrial development that took place on the Near West Side in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
It recent years, the neighborhood has developed as a thriving tech industry hub, exemplified by Google’s Chicago office. The neighborhood received an added boost with the opening of the McDonald’s headquarters this year. It also boasts a hot restaurant scene. The neighborhood’s transit connectivity was enhanced by the opening of the new, CDOT-constructed Morgan Street CTA “L” station in 2012 that serves the Green and Pink lines.