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Fulton Market Is Getting A $20 Million Pedestrian-Friendly Makeover

By Emma G. Gallegos in News on Feb 8, 2017 4:40PM

Fulton Market District (Photo by Seth Anderson via the Chicagoist Flickr Pool)

The city will be giving Fulton Market a $20 million makeover for a charmingly industrial neighborhood that has increasingly become a yuppie live-work playground, attracting Google, the Ace Hotel and the city's hottest restaurants. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that ground will be broken on the Fulton Market Streetscape Project next month.

The plan aims to both preserve the character of a neighborhood while also making it more accessible for pedestrians. The sidewalks will be wider and the crosswalks narrower. It should be a nice place to linger: there will be new cobbled intersections, street furniture and places to sit. New LED lights will be installed. Some of the industrial touches will be preserved, like raised sidewalks and docking stations. There will be new parallel and diagonal that will serve the businesses by day and people visiting in the evening and on weekends.

There will be new hook-ups for water and electricity for a farmers market. The road will be reconstructed and the area will become more ADA accessible.

A rendering of an intersection with a cobbled intersection, remade crosswalks and wider sidewalks (CDOT)

"We think it is a flexible design that reflects the evolving land uses and preserves the historic feel while harnessing the creative energy that is blossoming in this area," Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Construction from Halsted to Carpenter begins in March and is expected to be completed in summer 2018. The second phase, from Carpenter to Ogden, is still being designed, and there are plans to start it early 2018.

Fulton Market originally served as the city's food market, and it has continued to serve a similar function with lots of food distribution centers in warehouses. However, in recent years, it has also attracted major corporations like Google's Midwest headquarters and McDonald's worldwide headquarters.

The area has seen some fights between those who want to preserve the neighborhood's character and developers, Crain's notes. The area was designated a Chicago Landmark in 2015.

"Fulton Market has played an important role in Chicago's economic history and it has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years," Emanuel said in a statement. "Working closely with Alderman Burnett and community stakeholders, the City is making the necessary investments to modernize the existing infrastructure and restore this historic area to make it safer for pedestrians and suitable for the mixed-use economy of the 21st Century."

A rendering of the farmers market area, complete with raised, wide sidewalks (CDOT)