Merchandise Mart makeover planned as competition stacks up | Crain's Chicago BusinessLess than 10 years after the Merchandise Mart was crowned as the epicenter of Chicago's tech scene, the historic Art Deco property is launching a major makeover to try to regain its shine. Even before COVID-19 hammered demand for downtown workspace, the owner of the hulking 3.7 million-square-foot building watched as the Old Post Office—a cavernous structure redeveloped in the Mart's image—supplanted it as the more modern destination of choice for tenants seeking massive floor plates along the Chicago River. The trendy Fulton Market District, meanwhile, became the tech-firm magnet the Mart was early in the last decade, when startup incubator 1871 and Motorola Mobility moved in and companies like Yelp and Braintree followed.

Avondale's Elston Avenue Sees Flurry Of Proposals With 40-Unit Complex, Commercial Building And Condos ( At least three developers are vying for city approval to build projects along a 1-mile stretch of Elston Avenue in Avondale. Richard Norton of Reinventive Real Estate is behind the largest proposal: A 40-unit apartment complex with ground-floor retail at 2820 N. Elston Ave.

2820 N. Elston AveJonathan Splitt Architects

Allstate buys Chicago Wacker Drive office building for possible new HQ | Crain's Chicago Business: As it prepares to sell its longtime Northbrook campus, Allstate has purchased a Wacker Drive office building that it may turn into its new headquarters. The insurance giant this month bought the 10-story office building at 29 N. Wacker Drive, sources familiar with the deal said. The purchase price is unclear, though sources familiar with the offering when the building went up for sale in September said it was expected to trade for around $36 million.

Downtown Chicago occupancy rates up ( 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.

Wood Street Bike Lanes, Other Neighborhood Upgrades Planned For Wicker Park Area After Approval By Residents ( bike lanes, pedestrian bump-outs and other infrastructure improvements will be built in Wicker Park, West Town, Bucktown and Logan Square in 2022. The projects were approved by residents through the 1st Ward’s participatory budgeting process. The seven projects will cost about $1 million, which will come from the ward’s annual “menu money” that aldermen receive to fund infrastructure upgrades.

A Low-Stress Bike Route Through Lincoln Square And Uptown Could Break Ground As Early As This Summer ( A long-awaited plan to change the traffic pattern at a busy Lincoln Square intersection to improve access and safety for bicyclists and pedestrians is finally moving forward, local leaders say. The Chicago Department of Transportation proposed the Leland Avenue Greenway in 2019 as part of the Lincoln Square master plan to create a continuous, low-stress bicycle connection between the North Shore Channel and Lakefront trails.