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Fulton Market’s $19.6 Million Streetscape Project To Make Restaurant Hub Pedestrian Friendly

How will these changes benefit area restaurants?

A rendering of the Fulton Market streetscape project that will affect restaurants like Publican Quality Meats (pictured).
Chicago Department of Transportation
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

That neon Fulton Market District sign that went up two years ago was, well, a sign of things to come for the street that includes trendy restaurants like The Publican, Next and Duck Duck Goat. The city of Chicago has announced a $19.6 million streetscape project to make the street more pedestrian friendly. The project will continue to reshape the area the was formerly dominated by the city’s meat-packing industry.

Phase one of the project, from Halsted to Carpenter, starts next month and should be completed in early 2018. The beautification will take away some of the street’s grit, the same grit that lured One Off Hospitality, Alinea Group and Boka Restaurant Group. But at the same time, more street traffic means more potential diners. The city will add four cobblestone intersections, install LED street lights and widen sidewalks, according to the Tribune.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in a statement, said the changes will make it safer for pedestrians and help businesses like Google, whose Chicago headquarters is located off Fulton Market. Fulton Market is to be a hub for these tech business which contribute to a “mixed-use economy.” Those tech workers will need to walk to places to eat, other than Google’s cafeteria. The street improvements will also benefit McDonald’s new headquarters which is set to open nearby in spring 2018.

But the improvements won’t throw away the area’s history. The changes hope to retain the area’s historic look, according to Crain’s. Some restaurateurs weren’t exactly pleased with the gateway sign that went up in 2015. Then again, some meat packers probably weren’t happy when those restaurants first arrived, either.