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Let’s Go Shopping….in a Box. Related Midwest Brings Pop-Up Market to West Loop

Temporary Storefronts Will Feature Quirky Local Artists and Entrepreneurs on Randolph Street Site
June 8, 2018
Here’s a new twist to experiential retail: Shopping in a box. Or a repurposed shipping container to be exact, according to Chicago-based Related Midwest’s plans for a temporary pop-up container market this summer in the West Loop.

Dubbed “Box Shops by Related,” the temporary storefronts at 725 W. Randolph St. will be prefabricated, climate-controlled structures fashioned by Chicago-based Latent Designs’ Boombox concept that uses upcycled shipping containers. Latent creates the 160-square-foot Boombox micro buildings as a non-traditional brick-and-mortar opportunity for retailers “between start up and storefront,” the company says.

Related Midwest is popping the boxes up beginning Friday, June 15, through the end of the year on the site fronting Randolph at the Kennedy Expressway. That’s where Related Midwest hopes to build a 58-story, 370-unit mixed-use tower for the first Equinox Hotel and a 30,000-square-foot Equinox health club. The temporary storefronts are expected to reflect innovative and sometimes quirky goods and services from local entrepreneurs and artists as well as Equinox.

“We are thrilled to bring this retail experience to Chicago in an effort to enhance the community and support area businesses, including everyone from independent artisans to world-class brands like Equinox,” Curt Bailey, Related Midwest president, said in a statement. “As the gateway to a neighborhood that recognizes and appreciates creativity, 725 W. Randolph is the perfect place to showcase our city’s thriving community of entrepreneurial retailers.”

Besides Equinox, vendors already in line for the Box Shops debut include Kido Chicago, a maker of eco-friendly kids clothing; digitalKENTE, which creates graphic-patterned athletic wear; ReformedSchool, a brand combining art, fashion and eco-friendly materials for bow ties, tote bags and home goods; and the creative agency and gallery Some Odd Pilot. This is Related Midwest’s first project with Latent, which has had Boombox short-term retail containers in the Wicker Park, Englewood, Austin, Chatham and Bronzeville neighborhoods.

The Haymarket Pub & Brewery, which is located at the corner of Randolph and Halsted, will pop up a beer garden on the site alongside a courtyard with multiple seating spots. Chicago’s Franco Campanella, a visual artist who goes by the name “Lefty Out,” has created a colorful 40-foot mural that features his distinctive “squiggle” line work, Related Midwest said.

The Equinox container will tout its state-of-the-art fitness club with ongoing programs and events, as well as sponsor a multi-sports court behind the containers that will hold free, weekly fitness classes.

At $1,000 a month, the leases aren’t going to be particularly lucrative for Related Midwest as it prepares to redevelop the property, but if it proves popular, Related said it will consider replicating it at other proposed developments, like The 78, the massive West Loop project on the Chicago River, and 400 Lake Shore Drive, the two-tower proposal at the Chicago Spire site. All those projects still need city approvals and financing before construction can begin.

Jennifer Waters, Chicago Reporter  CoStar Group   
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