Buildings sit vacant on the city's west side in March 2017. Credit: Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Welcome to the Reader‘s morning briefing for Friday, May 26, 2017. Have a great holiday weekend!

  • Chicago’s population decline continues for the third year in a row

Chicago’s population declined for the third consecutive year. The city lost 8,638 residents in 2016, compared to 4,934 in 2015 and 357 people in 2014. Chicago lost more residents in 2016 than any other major city and was the only major city to lose people between 2015 and 2016, but there are signs that Chicago is still doing well despite the decline. “There are places like Baltimore, St. Louis and Cleveland that have also lost people for consecutive years,” Alden Loury, director of research and evaluation at the Metropolitan Planning Council, told DNAinfo Chicago. “Chicago has seen a level of vitality that those cities have not.” Mayor Rahm Emanuel blamed the exodus on Governor Bruce Rauner’s policies, while Rauner blamed it on Emanuel’s. [DNAinfo Chicago]  [Tribune]

  • Union Station will be transformed with $1 billion renovations

Riverside Investment & Development will lead a $1 billion renovation and redevelopment of Union Station and the area surrounding it, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman announced Thursday. “We’ve had a great partnership [with Amtrak], because if you’re going to have a 21st-century economy, it needs to run on a 21st-century infrastructure,” Emanuel said during the announcement event. “And that’s what we’ve been working on for the last four years to get to this point.” Some of the changes include residential towers above the terminal, a new food hall, a proposed hotel, new retail space, two office towers, a separate residential and retail tower nearby, and more. The project will be completed in three phases over six years, with construction on the first phase starting in mid-2018. [Sun-Times]

  • Report: Midwestern niceness is good for Chicago’s economy, business

Compassionate people, friendly workplaces, colleagues that care about each other, and civic pride make Chicago a great place to work and helps its business community thrive, according to Fortune. “Chicago is a competitive city for business, but that never gets in the way of a collegial team culture at these organizations,” said Holly Petroff, the executive vice president of consulting at Great Place to Work. “In fact, we found there’s a link. Winning companies were noteworthy for both their friendly, caring cultures and their impressive average revenue growth of 25% last year, compared to 15% at contender companies.” [Fortune]

  • Obama library spurs real estate development in South Shore

Real estate developers are buying vacant apartment buildings in South Shore with plans to renovate and rehab them in time for the opening of the Obama library, according to DNAinfo Chicago. The Kiser Group bought 21 apartment buildings in the neighborhood for $29 million, and Chicago Urban Renewal Partners is planning to buy the apartment building at 7109 S. Bennett, which has been vacant for nearly 20 years. “Chicago’s South Side has seen a huge pickup in demand recently,” real estate broker Aaron Sklar said in an announcement of the Kiser Group deal. “Given the new developments such as the Obama library and the redesigning of the Jackson Park golf course by Tiger Woods, coupled with higher returns, we’re seeing large interest from both new and current investors.” [DNAinfo Chicago]

  • Judge refuses to dismiss Jason Van Dyke murder charges

Cook County judge Vincent Gaughan denied motions to dismiss first-degree murder charges against former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke Thursday. Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder for shooting unarmed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald to death in 2014. His legal defense team introduced the motions, arguing “that political pressure stemming from public ‘fury’ stoked by graphic video of the shooting pushed prosecutors to charge Van Dyke with murder, despite laws that protect police officers who use deadly force to subdue offenders fleeing from violent crimes,” according to the Sun-Times. During the hearing Gaughan ordered that spectator Moises Bernal be held on $40,000 bond for snapping his fingers in approval after the ruling. Asked by the judge why he was in court, Bernal replied, “To see a racist murder on trial, a racist killer,” to which Gaughan replied, “You better get your attorney, because this is very, very serious.” [Sun-Times]

  • A magic-themed bar is coming to the north side

A magic-themed bar is set to open at 5050 N. Clark later in 2017, according to the Tribune. The Magic Lounge will serve food and drinks and feature live magic shows. “We hope for a full week of magic programming in the cabaret,” cofounder Joey Cranford told the Tribune. “There also will be a 1920s-style, speakeasy-type bar that will have a magician at the bar seven nights a week.” [Tribune]