Chicago tech neighborhood guide: Fulton Market challenges River North’s startup supremacy

Molly Each

In matters of real estate, grit is the new chic. And there's grit to spare in Fulton Market, where Chicago's meatpacking industry once reigned. These days, the area is attracting an industry better known for code than cattle.

Tech startups began to set up in the district's new or rehabbed developments around 2015, when Google moved its Midwest headquarters there.

The district is a submarket of the West Loop, and, according to real estate services firm CBRE, it has the lowest vacancy rate of all submarkets — 9.9 percent compared to 13.1 percent in Chicago overall. With developers eyeing a range of projects, expect residential properties to pop up alongside new restaurants, bars and office spaces.  

Tech activity there is poised to accelerate. Experts say the area could become the next River North, the current tech hub in Chicago. Fulton Market shares many infrastructural elements with River North, including access to public transportation, buzz-worthy bars and restaurants, and unique office spaces and hotels — including the new Ace Hotel, opening in fall 2017.

The area also offers multiple co-working spaces. That will come in handy, given all the tech talent that will need a cubicle.

 

FUNDINGS AT A GLANCE

Procured Health: $10 million — June 2016
Opternative: $6 million — February 2016
Mobile Doorman: $150,000 — September 2016
PinpointCare: $11 million — September 2015

 

COMPANIES TO KNOW

GoogleThe MillFood GeniusParqExSofar SoundsInstacartCrafty

 

WORD FROM THE BROKER

“Fulton Market is authentic, with a quality similar to the meatpacking district in Manhattan and an industrial grit you can’t re-create with a new building,” said Brad Serot, an executive vice president for CBRE in Chicago. “When Google arrived, it changed the game for Fulton Market. Smaller companies that wanted to create their own ecosystem and make a statement left the Loop to set up here.”

 

WORD ON THE STREET

“It's nice to be able to walk around an area that's not all crazy large high-rise buildings,” said Mobile Doorman founder Bob Matteson, whose team is in the WeWork space on Green Street. “But if you need to get there, it's walking distance to the Loop, and it’s also easy to get to other neighborhoods. Since we moved here in July 2015, we've noticed the growth. You can walk out the door and find 10 new restaurants. If you want to meet people before or after work, it's a good place for breakfast, lunch or happy hour.”

 

PUBPLIC TRANSPORTATION

The “L”: The Blue line stops on Grand. The Green and Pink lines stop on Lake Street at Morgan Street.

The bus: The north-south No. 8 Halsted bus drops off at the intersection of Halsted Street and Fulton Market, at the east end of the neighborhood.

Commuter trains: Fulton Market is a 20-minute walk and five-minute cab ride from both Ogilvie Transportation Center, a hub for transit riders from the northern suburbs, and Union Station, which serves both Metra and Amtrak trains.

 

COWORKING SPACES

WeWork Fulton Market: 210 N. Green St.

Life Creative: 1655 W. Walnut St.

Coco Coworking and Collaborative Space: 1046 W. Kinzie St.

The Roof Crop: 1516 W. Carroll Ave.

The Study Chicago: 1837 W. Fulton Market

Forum Labs: 1035 W. Lake St.

 

BEST COFFE SHOPS

Metric CoffeeJupiter OutpostSip Coffee HousePublican Quality MeatsGlazed & Infused

 

BEST HAPPY HOURS

The BettyAviaryCold StoragePaddy O'Fegan'sFederalesPublicanAberdeen Tap

 

 
Image via Shutterstock

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