By Jeremy Ross

(CBS) — Chicago is experiencing a record building boom, with no signs of a slowdown.

CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross reports on one area that’s drawing developers to really look up.

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The South Loop is described as the cozy, understated part of Chicago’s downtown.

But construction cranes, developers and work crews are transforming that perception.

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City and business leaders broke ground on a new project Thursday.

They’ll redevelop the Essex hotel off Michigan and 8th.  A 56-floor apartment complex will tower next to it, to be called Essex on the Park and creating hundreds of jobs.

When finished in early 2019, developers say it will be the tallest building on Michigan Avenue south of Lake Street. Planned are 290 hotel rooms and 476 apartments, with rents beginning at $1,600.

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Developer John Rutledge says builders see value in tenants having a short walk to work in the Loop and an even shorter walk to Grant Park.