Chicago suburb plans 80-acre mixed-use entertainment district
- The Chicago suburb of Niles, Illinois, is considering developing an 80-acre mixed-use district to lure visitors and new residents with entertainment-based retail, according to Curbed Chicago.
- The city's mayor wants to replace Niles' sales tax-based economy with a revamped property tax program fueled by a luxury hotel, parks with eclectic art pieces, a 70,000-square foot pavilion next to the town's version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and thousands of new apartments, all served by driverless shuttles. City officials said they began considering a redevelopment plan after a transit agency announced in 2014 it would build two rapid transit express bus lines there, one of which would connect Niles to O'Hare International Airport.
- City officials created a foundation for major development in 2015 when new zoning laws allowed multi-story buildings and mixed-use apartment complexes to be built along a main thoroughfare. Niles is counting on that and the potential creation of special taxing districts to attract developers.
Niles isn't the only suburb trying to capitalize on the walkable, urban-living trend.
Construction on a $220 million mixed-use project called The Grove has been underway in the Kansas City suburb of Lee's Summit, Missouri, since last summer. When fully built in about 10 years, the 85-acre development will offer up more than 600,000 square feet of industrial and flex space, almost 100,000 square feet of offices, nearly 90,000 square feet of retail and more than 380 apartments.
Texas is another state that has seen a surge of suburban mixed-use construction intended to create a city feel. In the Dallas suburb of Allen, Texas, developer Hines' plans for a 3.5-million-square-foot development called The Strand have recently gained traction. Just last month, according to the Allen American, the city council approved the 135-acre project, which officials hope will give Allen a thriving and active hub. The Strand will include retail, restaurants, self-storage, apartments and single-family residences.
More than $5 billion worth of mixed-used projects are in various stages of completion in Frisco, Texas, another Dallas suburb. Dubbed the $5 billion mile, the new developments are anchored by the Dallas Cowboys' 90-acre Star in Frisco training and headquarters complex. Another major nearby development is the $1.5 billion Frisco Station, which will include a 40-acre medical campus, seven-story office building, hotels, residences and The Hub, which will offer up retail and dining options.
While mixed-use projects crop up all over the country, population growth has slowed in urban areas and accelerated in the suburbs. When moving to the suburbs, many buyers still seek the conveniences of urban living — most notably, walkability and proximity to transit. The presence of such mixed-use projects is helping turn suburbs like Niles into more urban, convenient and commercial destinations.
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