Hoteliers not worried about Chicago’s population shift

Recent research shows that the Chicago region has lost population for the second consecutive year, and the city of Chicago itself has lost population for the third consecutive year. However, hoteliers in the city aren’t concerned.

According to figures from the Census Bureau and research compiled by Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, the Chicago region is lagging behind its metropolitan peers—Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, D.C.—when it comes to population growth. The analysis shows that the region’s overall population loss is mostly from the city of Chicago and four counties: Cook, DuPage, Lake and McHenry. The region’s three other major counties—Kane, Kendall and Will—are expected to continue their population growth.

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The news doesn’t faze Stefanie Hrejsa, GM of Chicago’s Hotel Versey, which is located in Lincoln Park.

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“I have people visiting from out of town and the country because the city has so much to offer,” she said. “Further, NBC recently reported that hotel demand is up 4 percent because of convention business and the core city is booming with residential, commercial, retail, and tourism business.

"The fact that the outskirts of the city are leaking population should be differentiated for the benefit of the city's reputation; we’re not feeling these effects on our business.”

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Caryn Granzow, director of sales and marketing for the Doubletree by Hilton Chicago Magnificent Mile, agreed, saying any population shift the region is experiencing has not affected business.

“Chicago is such a destination for all parts of the U.S.,” she said. “It’s an affordable city when compared to New York, Boston or San Francisco.”

The figures also show declines in population of children 19 years and younger and adults ages 35 to 49.

“Some of this decline is the result of millennial and baby boomer residents aging into older cohorts, but the region is losing these age groups faster than aging alone can explain,” according to the report. ” At the same time, the 20- to 34-year-old age group has not kept pace with millennials growing into and expanding this cohort nationwide.”

Likewise, despite an increase in the number of households in the region during the past 10 years, the number of families has decreased during the same time, according to CMAP’s report.

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While Granzow said that news surprises her more from a family standpoint than a millennial one, she said that doesn’t stop families from visiting Chicago as a destination.

“We’re right in the thick of summer, with families coming to Chicago for leisure—and it’s strong,” she said.

Hrejsa said that while people may be leaving the city from a residential standpoint, tourism isn’t abandoning the city.

“Overall for tourism, we don’t always get the credit we deserve for such a beautiful city,” she said. “In Lincoln Park, where the Hotel Versey is, you can walk to the beach, bars and theater. There is so much to do.”

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