Murals aim to draw needed attention to empty storefronts near Washington/Wabash L station

The Chicago Loop Alliance hopes the paintings attract new tenants to an area hurt by the CTA station project.

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Murals have been painted on windows of empty storefronts along Wabash Avenue in an effort to attract new tenants.

Murals have been painted on windows of empty storefronts along Wabash Avenue in an effort to attract new tenants.

Chicago Loop Alliance

Empty storefronts near the Washington/Wabash CTA station in the Loop have been painted over with murals in an effort to attract new tenants.

This initiative, funded by the Chicago Loop Alliance, began Monday and will finish Friday. The CLA is an organization focused on the revitalization of the Loop.

Retailers near Washington Street and Wabash Avenue suffered, and some closed, while the CTA station was built between 2015 and 2017. The area has not recovered, said Kalindi Parikh, CLA’s planning director.

Parikh hopes the murals raise awareness among the thousands of daily passersby, some of whom may be potential renters.

“It’s very easy to walk by a vacant storefront,” Parikh said. “You see it every day and never remember that it’s there. But what we’re hoping this will do is highlight those [empty properties] with something beautiful instead of a big leasing sign.”

The paintings are part of a broader CLA program to revitalize the area. Other initiatives have added outdoor seating and sidewalk cafés at restaurants and provided funding to local businesses.

The murals are only meant to garner new occupants. The paint is removable so that future tenants can preserve transparent windows, a must-have in retail.

Until a renter comes, though, CLA anticipates the murals to stay up.

“We’re really excited to see the ways this can liven up the street,” Parikh said.

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