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34 signs that this is the decade of the city

The suburbs are so over. Here are 34 reasons why.

1. Kraft headquarters moving from Northfield to Aon Center.

2. Motorola Mobility headquarters moving from Schaumburg to Chicago.

3. Motorola Mobility installing 400 bike parking spots at the Merchandise Mart. If they anticipated their employees commuting from Elmhurst, they wouldn't need that much bike parking.

4. Chicago's population growth has lagged other major cities. But this decade, it has seen the greatest turnaround of the country's three largest cities. New York's and Los Angeles' growth rates surged post-2010, and they're still growing, but that rate peaked in 2011 and 2013, respectively, according to U.S. census data analyzed by the Brookings Institution. Meanwhile, "Chicago saw the biggest turnaround from negative to positive growth over the two decades, though growth diminished in 2013-2014," Brookings reported.

5. What does this mean? It means that residents in some neighborhoods can feel the resurgence.

6. Sara Lee headquarters moving from Downers Grove to the city.

7. Developer Sterling Bay sells Sara Lee headquarters (by then Hillshire Brands headquarters) in 2013 for nearly 10 times what it paid for it — in 15 months.

8. Walkability scores on real estate websites like Zillow.

9. "Reverse-residency teachers," a Chicago Public Schools teacher writes on Facebook. "I know several high school teachers that work at good schools in the burbs (Hinsdale, Glenbrook North) but choose to live in the city."

10. I have been known to call Lincoln Park the suburbs.

11. "Ten years ago you couldn't pay a parent to send their kid to Nettelhorst School, and now Realtors are advertising properties for being 'in the Nettelhorst district,'" says Jacqueline Edelberg, who helped orchestrate that public neighborhood school's turnaround.

12. "I definitely think people are trying to stay in the city longer," said friend Scott Curcio, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker. "A good indicator in that is the improvement in some of the elementary schools in Lincoln Park and Lakeview. People are seeing they can dig in like Nettelhorst did as a parent, and I can make a local school better, especially if my child is 1, 2, 3 years old and a couple of years away from it. The high schools are the question."

13. The moment those kids graduate high school ... condo shopping!

14. "For three years running, primary cities are growing faster than their suburbs," Brookings reported in 2014. "From 2000 to 2010 as with many prior years, suburban growth substantially exceeded that of primary cities. This changed in the each of the three subsequent years. In 2012-2013, 19 of the 51 major metropolitan areas showed faster primary city than suburb growth including New York, Washington, D.C., Denver and Seattle." This year's report found, for the first time since 2010, primary-city growth is now similar to suburban growth.

15. The 606.

16. Maggie Daley Park.

17. Obama Presidential Center.

18. Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

19. "Many cities have gained more people in the three-plus years since the 2010 Census than they gained for the entire previous decade," Brookings reported in 2014. "This includes three of the five largest cities, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago (which lost population in the previous decade). Among the 25 largest cities, nine are already ahead of their previous decade's gains, including Dallas, Denver, Memphis, San Francisco, San Jose and Washington, D.C."

20. The hotel building boom: Chicago Athletic Association, Virgin, Godfrey, Loews, Hampton Inn, etc. Blair Kamin called that Hampton Inn in the renovated Chicago Motor Club building, "a swanky art deco hotel that would please flappers and yuppies alike." I've gotta go check it out.

21. I've even been mulling arranging a two-night staycation at the new Chicago Athletic Association hotel, and I already live in the city.

22. "Hines Interests is preparing to break ground on a 45-story office tower on the Chicago River without lining up tenants in advance, the first so-called spec office development in downtown Chicago in 14 years," Crain's reported in 2012. That building is now under construction.

23. The Kennedy family finally decided to build — and build big — at Wolf Point, at the intersection of the north, south and main branches of the Chicago River and next to the Merchandise Mart. The family has owned the point since 1945.

24. Walgreens' talks last year to move its headquarters to the Old Post Office downtown, even though the deal never materialized.

25. "It used to be if a company was looking downtown, they needed access to the 151 (bus) or the Red Line," said Dan Lyne of commercial real estate firm CBRE. "Now it's the Blue Line. All blue. The epicenter of hip is Logan Square off the Blue Line just like it was Wicker Park off the Blue Line 10 years ago. It's where the creative talent wants to be."

26. White flight is over. "Whites contributed to only 9 percent of total suburban population growth in the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas between 2000 and 2010," William Frey, a Brookings senior fellow, detailed in his book "Diversity Explosion." "Nearly one-third of large metropolitan area suburbs experienced absolute declines in their white populations over the decade."

27. Nine hundred students applied to ThinkChicago Lollapalooza this year; 125 were admitted. This is Chicago's program to lure computer programmers at top universities to move to Chicago post-graduation, by giving them free passes to Lollapalooza and introducing them to city tech leaders.

28. The satellite city office trend. "Since 2007, at least 46 companies based in the suburbs have relocated part or all of their operations to Chicago with leases larger than 10,000 square feet," Crain's reported, citing data from real estate firm CBRE. "They include corporate behemoths McDonald's, Walgreens, Sears Holdings, Motorola Mobility, Catamaran and Medline, all of which have opened satellite offices in the city."

29. John Kass runs a multiyear campaign against "the Little Bike People of Chicago." I love you, bike people!

30. The fighting and fighting and fighting in the West Loop about building-height restrictions, land use, landmarking, etc.

31. "According to Real Capital Analytics, the average price a square foot for office properties in Chicago rose 73 percent as of April when compared with 2012, which was a cyclical bottom for the city," the Wall Street Journal reported in June. "During that same period, average prices rose 65 percent in metro New York, 21 percent in San Francisco and 37 percent in Boston."

32. "The Driving Boom — a six decade-long period of steady increases in per-capita driving in the United States — is over," wrote the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Frontier Group in 2013. "Americans drive fewer total miles today than we did eight years ago, and fewer per person than we did at the end of Bill Clinton's first term." (Miles driven per person inched up slightly last year for the first time in a decade.)

33. "Car ownership is so low on millennials' priorities list, in fact, that 17 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds don't even have a license, and nearly 40 percent believe that losing their phone would be a bigger detriment to their lives than losing their automobile," Newsweek reported in 2014.

34. My husband and I own one car. He wakes up between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., and either bikes or takes a bus to the Clybourn Metra Station. He disembarks at the Arlington Heights stop and then boards a work-provided shuttle bus to his office. The reverse commute takes about 1 hour, 45 minutes each way. I feel so sorry for him, but we're not leaving the city.

Many of these observations were crowdsourced on my Facebook page. I invite you to add to the list or create your own list on Twitter by using my handle @chiconfidential. I'll use some of the best data and anecdotes in an upcoming column. I'll even consider lists from suburban lovers who think I'm wrong.

mmharris@tribpub.com

Twitter @chiconfidential

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