The southwest side of Chicago broke ground Tuesday on a new shopping district in a predominantly Latino neighborhood.
The Pulaski Promenade will have 133,000 square feet of retail space in a strip mall on South Pulaski Road. Eighty percent of the space is already pre-leased.
But across the Stevenson Expressway, exists a vibrant shopping district of two and a half miles of predominantly Mexican owned shops and restaurants on Little Village’s 26th street.
That corridor is the second largest tax generator in Chicago, despite changing demographics.
Since 2000, the Little Village’s population has been on the decline. More and more Latinos are moving to neighboring Garfield Ridge and Cicero. North suburban Waukegan has also seen growth.
Demographer Rob Paral attributes the change to a possible aging population, since no new demographic has moved into the South Lawndale neighborhood.
“There is a phenomenon where people who have moved away from the area still come back to do shopping on the weekends,” Paral said. “So that keeps it alive. And the mere fact that all that infrastructure exists.”
Jaime di Paulo, the Executive Director of Little Village’s Chamber of Commerce, isn’t worried about competing corridors of Latino businesses.
“Other communities in other towns surrounding Little Village have tried to mimic Little Village, “ di Paulo said. “But they don’t have what we have, which is the density of the community.”
Developers of the proposed mall in neighboring Archer Heights hope to tap into that population and the traffic it brings in.
But di Paulo believes if Little Village continues to innovate and cater to its core shoppers, the new mall and the growth of other hispanic shopping districts won’t take business away from 26th street.
The Pulaski Promenade is scheduled to open Spring 2016.
Claudia Morell is the Business News Intern at WBEZ. Follow her @claudiamorell