Mayor Johnson Announces New Downtown Advisory Committee, Storefront Improvements, Streetscape Visioning for Central Loop

February 29, 2024

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

City of Chicago support for six downtown restaurants, a new museum, streetscape enhancements, and a new advisory committee are the first steps in a comprehensive effort to transform the central Loop into a live-work-play environment, Mayor Brandon Johnson announced today.

“Given downtown’s uneven rebound from COVID that’s visible in underutilized storefronts, sidewalks and public spaces, I am implementing a comprehensive approach to downtown revitalization that will leverage the people and places that make downtown so special,” Mayor Johnson said. “Betting big on the Loop is always a good bet.”

The new Downtown Economic Growth Advisory Committee will leverage the business and tourism expertise of 40 area professionals. To meet quarterly under the direction of the Mayor’s Office, the group will work with other advocates to further transition the central area into a vibrant, mixed-use environment while also helping to shape the recommendations and implementation needs of the Central Area Plan Update, which will be finalized in 2024 as a guide downtown growth for the next 20 years. Committee members are anticipated to be announced this spring.

City assistance to support permanent improvements for seven restaurant, storefront and cultural enterprises are moving forward through the City’s Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF), Mayor Johnson announced. The locations and proposed SBIF assistance include:

141 W. Jackson LLC, 141 W. Jackson Blvd.
$250,000 for storefront, HVAC and other upgrades at the future site of an immersive Chicago Board of Trade museum.

Ceres Cafe, 141 W. Jackson Blvd.
$100,800 for interior updates to an existing restaurant.

Cardozo’s Pub, 170 W. Washington St.
$204,120 for facade improvements, HVAC upgrades, and other interior work at an existing restaurant and bar.

The Fillmore, 120 W. Monroe St.
$250,000 for a new sushi bar, lighting and flooring at an existing Asian fusion restaurant.

Frances Restaurant & Deli, 170 W. Washington St.
$225,000 for facade and interior renovations, as well as plumbing and electrical work, for a new restaurant and deli.

Goddess and the Baker, 181 W. Madison St.
$180,000 for storefront improvements and interior remodeling at an existing restaurant.

The Roanoke, 135 W. Madison St.
$250,000 for electrical upgrades and improvements to the storefront and acoustics for an existing upscale American tavern.

Offered for the first time downtown, SBIF applications were accepted over a monthlong period in fall 2023 to, in part, address the central Loop’s 25% vacancy rate. Approximately 20 applications were submitted for potential assistance. The tentative grant amounts will be finalized and distributed after projects are completed. An additional SBIF funding round downtown will be opened in September 2024.

Finally, to ensure public spaces within the central Loop are conducive to the area’s transition from a monoculture of offices to a dynamic, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use environment, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and DPD will engage the public for streetscape visioning starting this spring.

The visioning study will identify opportunities for passive recreation, improved sidewalk amenities, enhanced lighting, new greenspaces, public art, and other amenities consistent with mixed-use neighborhoods. 

Meanwhile, developer responses to a 2023 Invitation for Proposals (IFP) responses for adaptive re-use projects continue to be reviewed by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and the Department of Housing (DOH) for potential advancement, with a goal to reduce the central business district’s record-high 21% commercial vacancy rate and to provide more affordable housing in the growing downtown community. Projects selected to advance to City Council are anticipated to be announced this spring.


News Release Facts