Downtown Chicago occupancy trends in right direction

Officials hopeful recovery will continue into 2022


People want to be in the loop – Chicago’s Loop neighborhood, that is.

A new report from the Chicago Loop Alliance, a neighborhood business advocacy group, shows the city’s downtown closed December at or near pandemic-era highs in key occupancy metrics, though they still lag behind 2019 levels. The trends are encouraging given that they also coincide with a surge of Omicron cases in the area.

The average number of pedestrians on State Street and the occupancy rate for Loop hotels both hit 64 percent of December 2019 levels. The pedestrian rate is the highest on record since the start of the pandemic and the hotel occupancy rate ties the pandemic-era high set in July, capping off a four month rally to end the year. Chicago’s hotel industry has been distressed for some time now.

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The office occupancy rate peaked at 38 percent of 2019 levels, just off the peak set in late November. While that may seem low, Chicago’s occupancy rate outperformed New York and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Activity in the neighborhood was likely boosted by holiday attractions, but Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Erin Harkey said ongoing events could sustain the recovery.

“We’re hopeful that this increase in pedestrian activity will continue throughout 2022 as new arts and culture experiences open and Chicagoans and tourists alike aim to enjoy the Loop this winter,” she said. “Workers and visitors are vital to our city’s creative economy, and the central business district is buoyed by their energy.”

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