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4 Reasons Not To Ignore Bridgeport

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Bridgeport is one of Chicago's oldest and most historic neighborhoods, home to seven of the city's mayors and Chicago's other baseball team (and Bisnow's man on the ground in the Second City). And maybe it should be home to your next development.

Henry C Palmisano Nature Park, Chicago

Now that the South Side is on the radar of developers, Bridgeport's location and infrastructure, and a few creative people, have it positioned for probable future activity. We look at four factors that will drive development in Bridgeport in the near future.

1. The Stockyards PMD

Growing Power, Chicago
Urban Growers Collective operates an indoor farm in this former warehouse within the Stockyards PMD.

Upton Sinclair wrote about the horrible conditions packing workers labored under and the pollution of the Chicago River's south branch in his novel, The Jungle. Today, the Stockyards and neighboring Packingtown are a planned manufacturing district that's home to companies like Growing Power (pictured, its Iron Street farm), Testa Produce and the vertical indoor farm, The Plant, which are leading by example in green, sustainable building practices. The Stockyards PMD is also home to ComEd's new training facility on 35th Street, and will be the future home of Marz Community Brewing.

2. Retail And Restaurants

Kimski, Chicago
Kimski in Bridgeport

Bridgeport is served by CTA's Red and Orange Line "L" routes, has ample bus service along 35th Street, Hasted Street and Archer Avenue, and CTA launched a pilot bus program along 31st Street in September. These four streets have plenty of pockets that can be best served by retail, and that sector has been active this year. Antique Taco opened a second outpost at 35th and Morgan streets. South Halsted Street is home to a small but diverse lineup of independent retailers. The Duck Inn and Nana are Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants. And the popular Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar opened Kimski (pictured) in May, which became one of the most-hyped Chicago restaurant openings of 2016 for its mix of Polish and Korean food. (Their Polish sausage is topped with kimchi relish!)

On the western end of the neighborhood, a Mariano's anchors Regency Centers' Riverside Square, and Avgeris and Associates is looking for a grocer to anchor a planned retail development at 35th and Ashland, in the Stockyards PMD.

3. Adaptive Reuse

Bridgeport Art Center Loft, Chicago

From Morgan Street to Ashland, 35th Street is littered with older warehouses that have been repurposed into mixed-use storage and retail developments, and communal art centers. Superstar international artists the Zhou Brothers bought a former hotel furniture warehouse at 1029 West 35th St and turned it into the Zhou B Art Center, a five-story building filled with live-in artists studios, a café and gallery space. Two blocks west, the Bridgeport Art Center at 1200 West 35th St is a former catalog warehouse transformed into artists' spaces, galleries, a gym, self-storage, a U-Haul rental shop and a top-floor loft (shown) with a top-notch view of the downtown skyline that's become a popular destination for weddings and events. The two art centers host a monthly third Friday's art walk.

The Zhou Brothers have a foundation in their home on Morgan Street, which is also where the Marszewski family that owns Maria's and Kimski operates a small gallery, the Co-Prosperity Sphere, and a community radio station, Lumpen Radio.

4. Infill Industrial

920 West Pershing Road, Chicago
920 West Pershing Road

Carl Sandburg called Chicago the "hog butcher for the world" and, when meatpacking was the city's main economic engine, Bridgeport was the industry's center. There are several smaller warehouses remaining from the industry's dying days that have been updated for modern use. Dayton Street Partners bought this 40k SF warehouse at 920 West Pershing Road, rehabbed it and leased it to Trane and Stanley Steemer.

And there's still some meatpacking in the area. Vienna Beef relocated its encased meats plant to 1000 West Pershing Road this spring, and opened a factory outlet at 3847 South Morgan.