CHICAGO (WLS) -- Being right in the Loop is exactly what Disha Kumar wanted.
"I absolutely love it. Just the people, the lights, the traffic -- it intrigues me," she said. "I love staying here."
The nearby banker moved into her Loop apartment seven months ago and she is among a growing number of people living in the neighborhood.
The Chicago Loop Alliance reports there were 46,400 residents in the Loop in 2022. That's an increase of 4,000 residents since the 2020 census. Compared to the city, Chicago lost over 9,000 residents since 2018, according to the 2021 Census.
At a time when the Chicago Loop Alliance reports only 50% office occupancy, it seems the city center is becoming more residential with 5,000 more residential units expected over the next five years.
"We all heard the stories of people leaving during the pandemic. Turns out that wasn't really true," said Michael Edwards, with the Chicago Loop Alliance. "The market certainly softened for downtown living but it's been off the charts for the last year and a half."
Ben Creamer with the Downtown Apartment Company said the demand has been high, even though rents are back to pre-pandemic levels.
"It's still important to live close to work to people, so maybe they are in the office three days a week or five days a week, so walkability [and] convenience -- they still want to see their co-workers, so that's been a large part of it," Creamer said.
For Kumar, she said her rent is pricey but for her first year in Chicago, it's worth it.