Thefts, arrests, vacant store fronts: What can be done to save Chicago’s Mag Mile?

Chicago News

 CHICAGO — Nearly two dozen people were arrested and two police officers injured over the weekend after a crowd descended downtown Chicago Saturday.

This comes as, city leaders are working with consultants to reinvent the Mag Mile. They want to fill empty storefront and bring the area back to life.

But security remains the number one priority.

Danny McGee has been working security at Canada Goose for the last five months. 

“It’s my job to spot trouble and go stop it from getting into the store before it even happens. That’s why I’m posted up outside,” he said.

McGee says incidents have increased.

“It’s just like the Wild Wild West in the old days It’s getting buck wild,” he said. “It’s just the madness of the world. Crooks are getting younger. They’re getting smart. They’re unemployed and they’re looking for fast quick cash.”  

The Canada Goose store was robbed last month. Several “smash-and-grab” retail robberies have been reported in the last few weeks.

On Saturday night, police responded to a large group of kids downtown and arrested 21 juveniles.

2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins said he wants upgrades in security in the area.

“It’s one thing to talk about the problem and understand that it’s worse than it’s ever been but complaining about it doesn’t really do any good. We need specific solutions,” he said. 

He said those specific solutions will focus on security. He wants to upgrade the city’s surveillance system, so that cameras can talk to each other in real time.  

“There’s ways to have them interface with the police officers on the ground so a police officer who might be a block away can actually have access to a video feed from a store that might be experiencing some criminal activity,” he said. 

City leaders say while storefront vacancies are at an all-time high, nearly 30%, pedestrian count is also up, which shows them people want to visit the Mag Mile.  

“In spite of all the doom and gloom, we’re all going through a difficult time just now, there’s still optimism. There’s still a sense of hope,” Hopkins said. “And there’s still a belief that Michigan Avenue can be the crown jewel of Chicago in the future.”  

A panel that included The Urban Land Institute Chicago and the city’s Department of Planning and Development along with The Magnificent Mile Association recently met with real estate development experts to discuss recommendations to revitalize the Mag Mile.

A virtual meeting was held Monday to present the recommendations.

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