It’s official: Fulton Market is cool.
As a new wave of urban, experiential and independent retail concepts attend to the whims of consumer demand, there’s no question that the Fulton Market District has been up to the challenge, evolving into one of the city’s premier live-work-play neighborhoods. In Cushman & Wakefield’s 100 “Cool Streets” across the U.S. and Canada report, released this week, the hot neighborhood cracked the top 20.
“Fulton Market has emerged as the ‘go to’ district for the best brands entering our global city,” said Gregory Kirsch, executive managing director and Midwest retail leader, for Cushman & Wakefield in Chicago. “Retail rents have tripled in the last 36 months and we expect continued rapid expansion and escalation which will put this submarket in the city’s top retail echelon.”
Known for its “restaurant row” and nightlife scene, in recent years, Fulton Market has also been Chicago’s—and arguably one of the country’s—fastest growing office submarket as high-profile tenants such as Google and McDonald’s have settled in. In fact, the area was recently the site of Chicago’s largest per-square-foot office property sale. This diversity of asset types, along with multifamily and hospitality, have strengthened Fulton Market’s retail renown.
“It’s important to remember that Cool Streets are about more than just retail,” said Garrick Brown, vice president of retail intelligence, Americas at Cushman & Wakefield. “Their rise is at the nexus of multiple trends that impact not only commercial real estate but also society as a whole: the new urbanism, the impact of opportunity zones, the growing gulf between skilled and unskilled labor, the benefits and risks of a global tech-driven economy and the rise of an experience-based economy.”
According to Brown, value, convenience and experience have long been the three basic tenets that draw consumers to a retail store or shopping destination. But in the age of “newCommerce,” convenience and quick delivery of goods ordered online are paramount. These changes, coupled with shifting consumer preferences and Wall Street pressures on legacy brick-and-mortar brands, provided the catalyst for the disruption of traditional retail—and led to the evolution of Cool Streets retail districts.
“Make no mistake: these burgeoning enclaves aren’t just for hipsters or adventurous millennials,” Brown said. “Cool matters—and cities that actively cultivate livability in their neighborhoods through live/work/play environments and invest in education to attract and retain human talent will thrive in the new global economy. Put simply: If you make it cool, they will come.”
In addition to Fulton Market, Cushman & Wakefield’s report outlines the top 20 Cool Streets in depth, including: the entireties of Portland, Austin and Denver and certain neighborhoods, such as downtown Boise, Los Angeles’ Arts District, downtown Buffalo, Manhattan’s Bond Street/NoHo, Montreal’s Mile End, Honolulu’s Kaka’ako, the Massachusetts Avenue Arts District in Indianapolis, Boston’s South End, Louisville’s East Market District/NuLu, the Old Fourth Ward in Atlanta, Dallas’ Deep Ellum, Memphis’ Midtown/Overton Square, Midtown in Sacramento, Cleveland’s Ohio City/Tremont, the Historic Third Ward in Milwaukee and Houston’s Lower Westheimer/Montrose.
The report outlines myriad changes that have played out across the continent since the inaugural Cool Streets guide was released in 2016. Chief among them: while the Cool Streets trend remains strong in the “musical chairs game of affordability and opportunity” in large, primary markets and so-called 24-hour cities, an explosion of overall growth in secondary or tertiary markets has created new opportunities for retailers and investors alike.