CHICAGO (CBS) – Booming business in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood is actually causing some restaurants to close.

A look at the busy vibe at Publican Quality Meats illustrates the dual realities of doing business in the popular neighborhood.

“More guests, more cars,” said Donnie Madia, of Publican Quality Meets. “Parking seems to be diminishing more and more.”

In a neighborhood populated by tech firms and construction at almost every corner, competition for parking is fierce. It’s not uncommon to find vehicles three or four deep in loading zones, risking the 15 minute legal limit.

It’s not uncommon to find vehicles three or four deep in loading zones, risking the 15 minute legal limit, in the West Loop.

Carla Agostinelli, director of the West Loop Community Organization says she hears about parking “all day every day.”

There are people who can’t find parking to buy, and all the neighborhood’s prosperity is actually hurting business, she said.

“We have lost about five restaurants over the past two to three months and over the last year about a dozen as well,” Agostinelli said.

In the heart of the neighborhood, the 1100 block of West Randolph Street is a good illustration of that. Far from bustling, it looks like a ghost town.

“They are relocating or they are just closing their doors,” Agostinelli said.

Continued growth concerns are many in the neighborhood. Developers of one May Street lot would like to expand their nine story condo project to 18 floors. Even with a parking space for every unit, neighbors know that doesn’t always solve the problem.

“Last week I had new wood floors delivered to my condo, and it took about 30 to 45 minutes to find parking to deliver that stuff,” said Nick Carmen, a West Loop resident.

To stay open many businesses invest in valet services, but not all can afford that added cost.

Madia says if his restaurant didn’t have a valet it would be difficult.

“I look at it as a necessary expense to take care of the guests,” he said.

High rents also contribute to the problem. Retail space goes for about $75 to $95 a square foot.

Some plans for the area include a tall parking garage and subsidized valet service for business, but those are still in the planning stages for now.

 

Vince Gerasole