We are pleased to share a summary of the feedback collected from the 2017 State of the South Loop Survey in November. We thank everyone who took the time to respond with their perspectives on life in the South Loop. The information collected from the survey is already being used to inform our 2018 programming calendar.
There were 306 respondents to this year’s survey, well over twice the number of respondents to last year’s survey. While respondents are anonymous, we know that many of them accessed the survey via our GSLA mailing list and Facebook page, and the Hello South Loop! Facebook group. It’s refreshing to see so much interest and active participation in our community.
75% of our respondents have lived here for less than 10 years (44% have lived here for less than 5 years). This is comparable to last year’s results, which are to be expected due to the high growth of the area over the past decade. 77% of respondents own their residence.
31% of respondents have at least one child, with an overwhelming number having kids under the age of 10. Of these, 47% have at least one child who is elementary school-aged (5-10), while 42% of families have at least one child who is not yet school-aged, indicating that there will continue to be strong demand for schools in the area.
Community connection and involvement
37% of respondents reported feeling a strong personal connection to the South Loop, which rose to 42% among respondents with children. Only 22% feel that there is a strong sense of community.
18% of respondents reported that they volunteer in the South Loop, and 77% indicated that they would like to be made aware of more opportunities to volunteer in the community. Neighborhood beautification, green / sustainability, supporting shop local initiatives, education, and working with homeless populations were cited as top areas of interest. If you are looking for opportunities to volunteer your time in the area, check out the Volunteer Corner on our website for some ideas, or review our Committees for examples of ways to volunteer with the GSLA. We are always excited to meet new community members who want to get involved!
What attracts people to the South Loop, and why do they stay?
Like last year, proximity to work, public transportation access, walkability, and proximity to the lake were to reasons why survey respondents chose the South Loop and why they choose to stay here, as were proximity to cultural activities and diversity.
Being a family-friendly neighborhood was high on the list for respondents with kids, and the ability to go car-less was a priority for those without.
Strengths & Concerns
Fire protection, Public transportation, Biking accessibility, Garbage collection, Park maintenance, and Safe walking routes all received high marks from respondents. The areas with most room for improvement are street repair, with 24% of respondents rating this as Poor, and recycling, with 20% of respondents rating this as Poor.
53% of respondents are concerned about traffic in the neighborhood, followed by street lighting and the quality of roads and sidewalks.
One-third of respondents indicated that they feel very safe or extremely safe in the neighborhood. Half of respondents feel somewhat safe. Concerns about recent crime in the neighborhood dominated the comments we received. Residents are keenly interested in the specific steps being taken to ensure public safety.
Police coverage / crime and traffic were the two biggest challenges facing the neighborhood over the next 2 years, followed by rapid population increase and rising taxes.
Neighborhood Wish List
Respondents would like to see more restaurants, small businesses, and entertainment venues in the neighborhood, and cited the lack of variety and density of these as a reason for spending leisure time outside of the neighborhood. 38% said that they shop at locally-owned businesses regularly.
From a housing stock perspective, there is clear desire for larger living spaces; 38% of respondents would like to see more units with 3+ bedrooms available in the neighborhood, and 35% would like to see more townhomes built. Half of respondents indicated that they would like to see fewer new apartment developments. If you are interested in a snapshot of the local real estate market, keep an eye out for our February Neighbor’s Night Out.
58% of respondents are very proud to live in the South Loop, and 40% would recommend living here to others.
47% say it is very likely that they will be living in the South Loop 5 years from now, which rises to 50% of respondents with kids.
Finally, despite the concerns voiced above, 70% say the future outlook for the South Loop is very promising.
The South Loop continues to be a high-growth, high-potential neighborhood, with many new residents and many who are choosing to stay and make this neighborhood their home. This vibrant environment presents growing pains, such as concerns with increased traffic and safety, and there are also many opportunities – to cultivate a thriving small business community, to strengthen the sense of community, to establish our own unique neighborhood identity.
The Greater South Loop Association is proud to have been a part of our community for the past 20 years, helping to strengthen neighbors’ connection to the neighborhood and to each other through our monthly Neighbor’s Night Out series, Movie in the Park sponsorship, and other special events and initiatives throughout the year.
We look forward to continuing our work to bring neighbors together in 2018, and hope you will stay in touch by signing up for our mailing list, joining us at events, becoming a GSLA member, or volunteering your time to make our neighborhood the best it can be.
About the GSLA:
The Greater South Loop Association (GSLA) is a 501c3 non-profit organization founded in 1998. Our mission is to bring neighbors together to maintain and improve the South Loop as a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive community.
Image credits: Greater South Loop Association, 2017 State of the South Loop Survey