Dear Members,

The Association’s Advocacy Committee recently engaged members to draft a position in response to the Mayor’s proposed exclusionary zone for cannabis dispensaries in the Central Business and Michigan Avenue Districts. After vigorous discussion, the Association issued a statement that supported cannabis dispensaries in the district, in order to provide upscale and dynamic retail experiences and boost tourism. In a meeting of the City's Zoning Committee last Tuesday, we learned that boundaries would be amended to allow sales on the east side of State Street, within walking distance of North Michigan Avenue. Our position mattered and led to a win for the Association.

Last week, I also attended The Learning Expedition, a three-day conference presented by the Global Business Districts Innovation Club and the Chicago Loop Alliance. I met with 20+ urban district leaders from around the world and was thrilled to offer a tour of The Magnificent Mile to colleagues from Moscow, Montreal, Paris, Toronto, Tokyo, New York, and more. We discussed adaptive reuse of landmark and contemporary buildings, the evolution of retail from flagships to capsule spaces, and, of course, the upcoming centennial of the Michigan Avenue DuSable Bridge in 2020.

I am a longtime member of downtown organizations like the Innovation Club, including the International Downtown Association. As we know, it’s a small world in hospitality, tourism and placemaking, and I’d be happy to connect any Association member with my global counterparts. If you are interested, please send me a note at

During the tour, I learned that the 125th Street Business Improvement District in New York is working to enhance their holiday lights parade and incorporate commercial properties along the route. We are celebrating the 28th year of the BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, and it is amazing to hear that we are a beacon for other cities to learn and develop. We are grateful to our property owners, building managers, engineers and more than 600 volunteers for making the holiday tradition a resounding success.

It’s hard to believe we are less than one month out from Lights Festival. Mark your calendars for the busiest days of the year along the Mile on Friday, November 22 and Saturday, November 23. I look forward to seeing you there!


Kimberly Bares,

President and CEO