June 10, 2021

Mayor Lightfoot Announces Central City Recovery Roadmap and Street Activations on Michigan, State, and Lasalle

Report covers post-COVID downtown recovery and strategies for revitalization including events to draw visitors back downtown on Michigan Avenue, LaSalle Street, and State Street this summer and fall

CHICAGO – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and city leadership today announced the Central City Recovery Roadmap, a guide to the revitalization of Chicago’s greater downtown area and street activations across the downtown area that encourages Chicago residents and visitors to come back downtown this summer and fall.  

"Our city cannot fully bounce back from the pandemic until the cultural, retail and financial engines that power our economy are able to return at full capacity," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "From introducing a new set of street activations to get residents outdoors and encourage them to support our businesses to working closely with scores of civic organizations and other stakeholders to ensure a solid recovery, our city is more than prepared to welcome residents and visitors alike back to a thriving downtown. Taken together, these initiatives and collaborative approach to economic recovery will help our downtown and our city become stronger and more resilient than ever before." 

The Central City Recovery Roadmap, issued by the City of Chicago and the Chicago Central Area Commission (CCAC), coordinates implementable actions across sectors to achieve a strong reopening this summer that will guide Chicago into full recovery over the next several years. A follow-up to the COVID-19 Recovery Plan, making Chicago the first major U.S. city to issue a recovery plan and created by the City’s Recovery Task Force, the Central City Recovery Roadmap provides immediate and near-term goals and actions across workstreams.  

Building from the rapid engagement process undertaken over the last six months, four overlapping and integrated themes were identified to ensure flexibility and stability in the City’s recovery. These include: 

  1. Communication and spreading the word on achieving a safe, rapid recovery and that Chicago is open. 
  2. Activating spaces and creating a splash for Chicago, intensifying civic and public life. 
  3. Getting people back downtown, maximizing workers, residents, shoppers, and visitors in the Central City. 
  4. Investing in services and capital projects, a vision for the Central City, and wider structural issues – social, economic, or fiscal. 

Initiated in the fall of 2020, roadmap planning included more than 150 participants from large and small companies and corporations, Broadway in Chicago representatives and venue operators, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, property owners, resident and community organizations, members of City Council and other stakeholders.  

The roadmap is an outcome of the July 2020 "Forward Together" plan, the first Covid-19 recovery effort of any major U.S. city. Roadmap sub-committees focused on Economy and Commerce, Culture and Tourism, Transportation and Mobility, and Residents and Community.  

Key strategies include safe, reliable public transit; enhanced pedestrian and bike infrastructure; new events from community-based organizations, and long-term strategic planning for key arterials. 

With the City of Chicago safely and fully re-opening, City leaders will be discussing sustainable commuting, new outdoor cultural programs, and special return-to-work events during a panel discussion on downtown recovery strategies next week at the Executives' Club of Chicago meeting. The hour-long discussion will highlight the Central City Recovery Roadmap and how the City plans to maximize the central area’s post-pandemic revitalization as an epicenter of business, culture, tourism, and housing. 

“The goal of the Central City Recovery Roadmap is to coordinate implementable actions across sectors to achieve a strong summer reopening that leads into full economic recovery over the next several years,” said Samir Mayekar, Deputy Mayor of Economic Development for the City of Chicago. 

The Executives’ Club panel discussion will be moderated by CCAC Executive Committee member Kimberly Dowdell, with an introduction by World Business Chicago President Michael Fassnacht. The panelists will include: 

  • Gia Biagi, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Transportation 
  • Mark Kelly, Commissioner, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events 
  • Samir Mayekar, Deputy Mayor, City of Chicago 
  • Kelly Walsh, President, Civic Committee of Chicago 

The City of Chicago is also announcing that it is partnering this summer and fall with major civic organizations to activate Michigan Avenue, LaSalle Street, and State Street with temporary street closures, arts and cultural programming, outdoor dining, and more – inviting office workers, residents and tourists downtown. These new programs include “Meet Me on The Mile,” sponsored by The Magnificent Mile Association; “Lunch on LaSalle,” sponsored by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago (BOMA/Chicago); and “Sundays on State,” sponsored by the Chicago Loop Alliance. 

“Meet Me on The Mile” is a new series of activations along Michigan Ave this summer and fall, which will invite residents and tourists downtown for performances, family activities, Instagrammable installations, dining, and shopping.  


Illustrative view of upcoming street activation. Rendering by HDR 

“The Magnificent Mile has always been an integral part of Chicago for residents and tourists alike, and a driver of economic growth and opportunity in the heart of the city. We’re thrilled to invite visitors back to the Mag Mile this summer to experience its vibrancy and magic in new and surprising ways with ‘Meet Me on The Mile,” said Dan Russell, Chair of The Magnificent Mile Association. 

“Lunch on LaSalle” will create a pop-up space that will give downtown workers, residents, and visitors the unique opportunity to dine and relax on LaSalle Street in front of the iconic Board of Trade building. On various Tuesdays over lunch this summer, parts of LaSalle Street will be closed to vehicular traffic and transformed into an outdoor dining boulevard. 


Illustrative view of upcoming street activation 

“As employees return to their offices downtown, we’re excited to offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy ‘Lunch on LaSalle’ – connecting with colleagues and friends on the street right in the historic heart of Chicago’s financial district,” said BOMA’s executive director, Farzin Parang. 

As previously announced, “Sundays on State” will transform State Street from Madison to Lake into an open street on Sundays, starting on July 11. The newly announced programming line up for their first event includes live music from bluegrass and jazz bands, a brass ensemble, a DJ, and more; a performance by the Joffrey Ballet; aerial performances; Irish dancers; a "micro-marathon" for kids; outdoor dining; on-street retail and much, much more. Those interested in attending these free events can register now at LoopChicago.com/Sundays

“We are excited to see visitors and employees beginning to return to the central city and Chicago’s Loop, after a challenging year for all of us. ‘Sundays on State’ will offer the perfect opportunity for connection and celebration as the City continues its full reopening and recovery,” said Chicago Loop Alliance President and CEO Michael Edwards. 

The Executives’ Club panel for the Central Area Recovery Roadmap will be hosted at 1 N. State St., 11th Floor on Wednesday, June 16 at 10 AM. To attend in person or view the event online, register at: ChicagoReturns.com/events.