The South Loop’s Motor Row is “Moving Along,” Being Scouted by Investors

 South Loop

The long-term project turning portions of South Michigan, Indiana, and Wabash Avenues into an entertainment destination to complement McCormick Place is “moving along,” according to Second Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti.

Speaking at an event recently, he told the audience that  there has been a lot of interest from developers ever since the city declared Motor Row an official entertainment district.

We already know that rock band Cheap Trick is interested in establishing a multi-function museum, concert venue, and restaurant at 2245 South Michigan Avenue. According to the Sun-Times, it has $13 million is backing from a local developer, and was originally scheduled to open this Summer.

Last Autumn, the Chicago Tribune published a list of local restauranteurs and restaurant companies that were eyeing locations in Motor Row, and outlined plans for a potential hotel near the big convention center.

1454 South Michigan Avenue

1454 South Michigan Avenue

But the buzz in the area has been about Big Shoulders Brewery (2237 South Michigan Avenue), backed by a group of local traders.  Its web site claims the brewery will open in “Fall 2012,” and the now-defunct Chicago Journal most recently reported that it would be open last month (January, 2013).  Fioretti says the plans aren’t on hold, the gears are just turning slower than expected.  He indicated that the hoops that have to be jumped through at City Hall are taking longer than is ideal.

We’ve seen evidence of this, as Broad Shoulders’ liquor license was only approved a few weeks ago.

But, Fioretti stressed, there is no hurry because January is a lousy time to open a restaurant in Chicago.  So look for something by the time the weather turns warmer.

In addition, a group of potential out-of-town investors came to Chicago on January 30th for a tour of Motor Row locations for a possible entertainment business.

And Fioretti says a Swiss company with deep pockets is trying to fund a Miami-based hotel company to open a boutique hotel in the district.

To date we haven’t heard any rumbling from NIMBYs in the area.  Everyone we’ve spoken with seems eager to have new neighbors, more dining and entertainment options, and fewer vacant buildings.  At this point, most of it is just dreams and drawings, but everything does seem to be falling into place for the wasteland around McCormick Place to transform into something much better.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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