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More West Loop Development Worries Some, Welcomed By Others

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The upside and the downside of growth. More companies like McDonald's and Google are calling the West Loop home.

But can the neighborhood keep up?

CBS 2's Vince Gerasole has the story from the Fulton Market District.

It's no secret how popular the West Loop is in the Chicago area. But with the scope of two new proposals, some are wondering whether the infrastructure could withstand it.

With developments from hotels to office buildings that seem to greet you at every corner, Chicago's West Loop is on fire. But negotiating the neighborhood's many closed sidewalks as the former meat packing district transforms isn't easy.

"Oh my go, it's terrible. Especially after all the construction that's been happening," said West Loop worker Alina Shehead.

The mix of delivery trucks and growing numbers of motorists on one-way and closed off streets adds to the confusion.

"The current infrastructure does not really support all this density," said Carla Agnostinelli from the West Loop Community Organization. Her group has held public meetings with developers on 52 proposed projects in the past year alone.

"We have to be mindful that people don't only come into the West Loop to work and play, but they also come here to live," Agnostinelli said.

But in a low-rise neighborhood, proposals are now growing skyward. Developers want to build an office tower 19 stories tall at Halsted and Fulton. A building at Randolph and Sangamon could reach 53 stories.

"Ten years ago it was like Skid Row," said 27th ward alderman Walter Burnett Jr. who added that the city of Chicago is spending millions to keep up with the growing pains.

The city is paying 22 million dollars to build sidewalks along Fulton Street where former warehouse entrances were once feet above the roadway. Four new street lights will hopefully ease traffic.

And while local businesses may welcome the growth...

"Bring it on. The more the merrier," said Bernice Horton of Gus's Fried Chicken.

Some who live and work in the area aren't quite as enthusiastic.

"It's just more people, more cars," said Shehead.

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