Economic Development in Skokie IL
Exciting new developments and increased private and public investments within existing commercial areas can be found throughout Skokie. From the Westfield Old Orchard core to booming Touhy Avenue, within iconic Downtown Skokie and the renowned Illinois Science + Technology Park, along Dempster Street, Skokie Boulevard and other major thoroughfares, highly favorable enhancements are everywhere, according to Leslie Murphy, economic development specialist for the village. Additionally, a number of business districts throughout the community are experiencing positive changes. Building permit activity in Skokie for 2018 was robust, and 2019 has continued the momentum.
Residents and visitors continue to rediscover and enjoy all that pedestrian-friendly Downtown Skokie offers, with the eclectic mix of colorful street furniture, exterior upgrades on many storefronts and many eye-catching exterior murals. Downtown offers easy access to public transit via the CTA Yellow Line (Oakton Station), PACE bus service as well as plenty of free public street and surface lot parking.
Construction of a new 12-story mixed-use, 153-unit luxury residential development at the northwest corner of Lincoln Avenue and Oakton Street began during fall 2018, with first occupancies anticipated for summer 2021. This public-private partnership project, commonly known as 8000 North, also will offer several new exciting restaurants, including Asian fusion regional chain Shakou, and complimentary retail uses at this iconic intersection. Another exciting new Downtown destination venue is Ignite Gaming – Skokie, the North Shore’s largest e-sports, competitive video tournament and event space, on Skokie Boulevard just across from the Oakton CTA station and the Illinois Science + Technology Park. Ignite offers a restaurant with full bar, virtual reality and private rooms, couch co-ops and more in its 17,000-square-foot state-of-the-art social gaming facility.
Downtown Skokie is home to over 20 ethnic and traditional eateries, including several Michelin-rated establishments, thanks in part to the village’s successful incentive programs to help attract new and enhance existing restaurants to the area. Iconic and popular restaurants such as Alexander’s, Village Inn Pizzeria and Sports Bar, El Fuego Mexican Cuisine and Fiesta En Tuxpan Mexican Grill continue to invest in their businesses and successfully grow their customer base. Distinctive new eateries have continued to open over the past several years.
Longtime stores and service businesses such as Diana’s Bridal, Duron Photography, Hummingbird Resale, Marge’s Flowers, Skokie Ace Hardware, Crafty Beaver, Edward Jones Investments and Print Xpress offer many reasons to visit Downtown Skokie.
The recently completed Floral Avenue housing development contains 20 unique, eco-friendly and sustainable single-family homes located in close proximity to the downtown entertainment, dining and retail hub. Additional new housing and mixed-use projects are also underway in the downtown, including seven luxury townhomes on Elmwood Avenue, 20 upscale townhomes and 12 new apartment units on Lincoln Avenue, eight condominium units on Warren Street and 42 more transit-oriented residential units are under construction on Skokie Boulevard across from the Oakton Street CTA station. Additional modern and mixed-use residential, senior housing, and hotel developments are being contemplated for Oakton Street, Lincoln Avenue and Skokie Boulevard.
The historic Skokie Theatre brings a wide variety of high quality professional theatrical and musical entertainment to Downtown Skokie via the renowned MadKap Productions, which recently received the 2019 Award for Excellence from the Village’s Fine Arts Commission and the 2019 Business of the Year honors from the Consumer Affairs Commission. Downtown Skokie is the place to be all year-round, so don’t miss the Sunday Skokie Farmers Market, Wednesdays on the Green, Fourth of July and Saint Patrick’s Day Parades, Skokie Backlot Bash (featuring three days of live music, carnival rides and other entertainment) and the annual Halloween Trick-or-Treat event. For more information on all Downtown Skokie businesses and special events, visit downtownskokie.org.
Illinois Science + Technology Park
The Illinois Science + Technology Park, a 24-acre life-science campus in Downtown Skokie, is owned by Skokie-based American Landmark Properties, the former co-owner of Chicago’s Willis Tower. American Landmark Properties is currently developing an additional 147,000 square feet of office and wet lab space in addition to the already leased 450,000 square feet at the park, which currently employs over 1,600 workers. The Oakton Yellow Line CTA station is adjacent to the Technology Park.
The Technology Park is the former corporate headquarters of pharmaceutical giant G.D. Searle and Pfizer. Inc., and has been repurposed into a tech park community of scientists, researchers, inventors and innovators. The 25-company facility offers convenient access to Northwestern University in Evanston and the Midwest’s technology and life science business cluster. The technology park supports a wide range of businesses ranging from exciting Northwestern-based startups such as Exicure and NuMat Technologies, early commercialization users including companies originating in Germany, Japan and New Zealand, and large corporations such as Chicago-based NorthShore University HealthSystem and east coast-based Charles River Laboratories.
Westfield Old Orchard/Skokie Boulevard & Golf Road Retail District
Westfield Old Orchard, recently acquired by French real estate company Unibail-Rodamco, attracts high-quality tenants and makes significant reinvestments into the iconic center. With an inviting park-like atmosphere amid over 140 specialty retailers, two new upscale CMX VIP dine-in and marketplace cinemas, along with a wide array of dining choices, Westfield Old Orchard is Chicago’s premier destination to experience four seasons of style. Anchored by Macy’s, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s,
the enticing open-air mall offers a variety of popular and first-to-market retailers, including Apple, Anthropologie, Aritzia, Dormify, DryGoods, Fabletics, Free People, FunDay, Lush, Nespresso, Peloton, Soma Intimates, SoulCycle, Tiffany & Co., Vineyard Vines and Zara. In early 2019, MassVR, the world’s first, free-roam virtual reality playground arena, opened in the former Lord and Taylor space, and recently added ground-breaking technologies to their immersive game play experience.
Dining options include something for every taste: Nando’s Peri Peri, Maggiano’s Little Italy, Corner Bakery Cafe, Roka Akor, Roti Mediterranean and Sip 22 Coffee Lounge, as well as several enticing fast-casual restaurants like Epic Burger and Shake Shack. The wildly popular restaurant chain, The Hampton Social, opened to rave reviews in early 2019 and its rooftop bar recently opened to the public.
Elements have been added to promote social activities such as the new outdoor children’s play area, The Cube (a glass pavilion that is used year-round for special events and activations such as with Amazon), and outdoor ice-skating and other seasonal activities within the mall. Be sure to check out the fun mural across from Sip 22 and watch for other new artistic touches within the center.
Across from Old Orchard, Nothing Bundt Cakes serve their growing customer base at The Shops at Orchard Place, while Burlington Coat Factory, Bob’s Discount Furniture, Culver’s Frozen Custard, Chick fil-A and AAA Travel are thriving on Skokie Boulevard. PurePoint Financial, and a new Wendy’s and Verizon store will bring added retail options to this district. Iconic restaurant The Charcoal Oven on Golf Road offers a glimpse of the past while serving up new fare to the delight of their new and old customers.
Dempster Street & Village-Wide Commercial Corridors
Also known as Illinois Route 58, Dempster Street bisects the Village and is a major thoroughfare carrying commuters from the lakefront to the east, past the O’Hare corridor and in the far western suburbs. The Illinois Department of Transportation estimates an average of 35,000 vehicles travel through Skokie on Dempster Street on a daily basis. There is a great diversity of economic activity on Dempster Street, including financial institutions, restaurants, office complexes, religious institutions and independently owned retail specialty shops.
The 33,000-square-foot “flexible-format” Target store at the southwest corner of Dempster and Bronx (just east of the Yellow Line CTA Station) and the Starbucks store in the historic Skokie Swift Train Depot are quickly becoming one of the most successful suburban Target/Starbucks duos in Chicagoland. The 60-year-old world-famous and Zagat-rated Kaufman’s Deli was voted one of the country’s top 10 bakeries in the country by USA Today. The LEED Gold-Certified Byline Bank facility, first-to-market Oberweis/That Burger Joint, state-of-the-art Walgreens, the newly-expanded Pita Inn and its sister restaurant Zad, new UltraMed Urgent Care, Grecian Kitchen Delight, Hubs, ILoveKickBoxing.com, Optimum Fitness Formula, The Boiler and Poochies, along with the historic Evanston Golf Club, are but a few examples of why Dempster Street in Skokie is a hotbed of activity, helping to further the Village of Skokie as a major economic destination on the North Shore.
Touhy Avenue Corridor
The Touhy Avenue Corridor continues to strengthen and evolve in terms of retail, restaurant and service offerings. At the 5500 block is Touhy Town Center, a drive-through Panera Bread, MOD Pizza and Goodwill Store and Donation Center. The Village Crossing Shopping Center theaters recently welcomed a new full-service MacGuffin’s Lounge, Altitude Trampoline Park and Five Below as well as a recently updated Makisu Sushi Lounge. The NorthShore Holiday Inn recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation of its re-imagined event space and lobby and continues to provide high-quality lodging just 10 miles from O’Hare and 12 miles from Downtown Chicago. At the former Jack’s Restaurant site, Starbucks, Aspen Dental and Bentley’s Pet Stuff serve old and new customers.
Farther east on Touhy, the redeveloped Pep Boys center contains a Sketchers Outlet and Orange Theory Fitness facility. The northwest corner of St. Louis and Touhy avenues (Touhy Marketplace) is home to a Super Wal-Mart along with The Halal Guys, Just Tires and the wildly popular Filipino
food chain, Jollibee. Skokie’s own Mariano’s Fresh Market, which features the popular barbecue restaurant Pork and Mindy’s, is adjacent to a LongHorn Steakhouse, and Starbucks, which draws new customers from Chicago, Lincolnwood and Evanston, as well as Skokie.