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A Brighter Future For The 'World's Busiest Square Mile'

Chicago Hotel

When comparing Chicago's two airport submarkets, O’Hare stands head and shoulders above Midway when it comes to sectors like hotels and retail—both inside and outside the airport. But there are signs that Midway—“The World’s Busiest Square Mile”—is catching up.


First Western Properties principal Fahim Lakhani brokered the sale of a site near Midway last November to Best Western, where the hotel chain will build an upscale hotel, vib by Best Western. Fahim says the Midway market is primed for higher-end retail, hotel and restaurant options to accommodate an increase in passengers through the airport in future years.

Pictured: First Western Properties VP Kellen Duggan, First Western Properties president Paul Tsakiris, vib by Best Western developer Amit Patel, vib by Best Western developer Parth Patel, First Western Properties VP Fahim Lakhani, vib by Best Western developer Hiral Patel, vib by Best Western developer Balkrishna Patel and an unnamed area resident.

A rendering of the Best Western Vib Hotel being built at Midway Airport.

Compared to the amenities around O’Hare, the landscape around Midway is trapped in a time warp. Fahim says there is a decent amount of retail surrounding Midway, but higher-end restaurants and trendy quick-service restaurant concepts are definitely lagging. Both will improve once hotel owners begin to focus on modernizing their assets. Fahim says the Midway hotel center contains as many as a dozen properties but it’s enclosed, with amenities that would have been considered outdated years ago. Redeveloping these old and tired assets will serve as a foundation attracting QSR concepts that need to capture the audience from the hotels.


Meanwhile, the vib hotel groundbreaking has started the ball rolling on adding retail. The developers of that project recently sold an adjacent outlot to Panda Express (also brokered by Fahim), which will build a freestanding drive-thru next door. Culver’s, Taco Bell and Lou Malnati’s are also coming to the Midway market.


And there’s room to grow. There are plenty of empty lots and vacant rental and used car lots around Midway, waiting for the right investor and concept to add value to the market and airport. Coupled with the city’s planned $248M modernization for Midway, the sky’s the limit.