Retail Initiative

What does retail development need to survive and thrive in the 21st century? A key question being addressed in ULI Chicago's two-year Retail Initiative.

Retail Initiative

ULI Chicago’s two-year Retail Initiative addresses the challenges that communities face in maintaining and attracting successful retail developments in the 21st century as retail markets are increasingly competitive, evolving faster than ever before, and rarely ever defined by political boundaries.  In the Fall of 2014, ULI Chicago launched the Retail Initiative by hosting a two-day Retail Workshop to address retail challenges specifically in suburban communities.


Stories of retail struggles have been a recurring theme for the past few years in ULI Chicago’s Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) program – our members have tackled retail development issues in a variety of settings ranging from the Irving Park Road corridor in suburban Hanover Park to the commercial districts centered around Winnetka’s Metra stations. While these TAP communities are very different in terms of their locations in the metro region and their socio-economic make-up, they are both, like numerous other communities, struggling to reinvigorate their retail districts.  Read more in these retail-focused Technical Assistance Panel reports:
Devon Avenue Corridor – Lincolnwood and Chicago, IL
Winnetka Commercial Districts – Winnetka, IL
Irving Park Road Corridor – Hanover Park, IL
Discover Asia on Argyle – Chicago, IL

Developing Tools

Drawing upon these local TAPs and ULI national’s research as resources, ULI Chicago will develop tools that communities can use to attract sustainable retail development, and ULI members and others can use to effectively impact policy.  Recommendations from ULI Chicago’s Retail Workshop formed the basis for a Retail Primer, which provides a “checklist” that municipalities can use to understand what type of retail development is supportable in their community and the steps needed to translate the development potential into reality.  The second phase of the Retail Initiative will focus on retail development challenges in urban locations and will be getting under way soon.


ULI Chicago has presented its Retail Workshop recommendations and the Retail Primer to clusters of communities throughout the Chicago area to promote resource sharing and cross-collaboration.  Read about 2015 Cluster Meetings  If you are interested in ULI Chicago’s retail research and presentation, please contact ULI Chicago at 773-549-4972.