New Development Abounds in West Loop Zoning Changes Could Pave the Way for More

New Development Abounds in West Loop
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Block Club Chicago reports on the progress of a new zoning ordinance that would allow for new residential development north of Lake Street in the Fulton Market District—long prohibited because of proximity to “trucks and the blood and the smell” permeating the area from the once abundant light industrial and meatpacking facilities there. The Plan Commission approved the changes in February; at its meeting this Tuesday, the Chicago Committee on Zoning approved the ordinance as well.

If approved by the full City Council, the ordinance will allow residential development within the Kinzie Corridor Overlay District bound by Ogden Avenue, Carroll Avenue, Hubbard Street, Halsted Street, and Wayman Street, with the stated aim of guiding the area toward a “mixed-use, mixed-income” neighborhood. Developers will need to set aside 30% of units for affordable housing under the framework of the Fulton Market Innovation District.

From Blood & Trucks to Food & Luxe

Over the last decade, says Block Club, the area has morphed from its meatpacking roots into a “mixed-use area full of glamorous restaurants, high-rise offices, and luxury shops.” Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr. (27th), who represents the neighborhood, says that industrial business owners became “millionaires overnight” by selling their properties—literally paving the way for the new development afoot.

Burnett sees the zoning proposal as a “shot in the arm” for Chicago’s downtown as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic (pun intended?), keeping development and tax dollars “flowing into the city.” 

More Condos, Co-ops, & Rental Options

The Committee on Zoning also approved plans for a 19-story condo building across from Mary Bartelme Park and a 12-story apartment building near Union Park, both approved by the Plan Commission last week.

Burnett, who lives near Union Park and is a deacon at a nearby church, wants “everyone to know this is going to be the second West Loop - you all need to come over here and do some development. This is where it’s happening, west of Ashland.” 

Marquette Companies is developing the 210-unit apartment building at 140 N. Ashland Ave. as a transit-oriented building—the Ashland L stop is steps away—with 32 units of affordable housing and retail on the first floor. According to Burnett, it’s one of the largest developments west of Ashland in years.

The development at 37 S. Sangamon St. will have 80 condos priced between $600 and $700 per square foot, which works out to about $1.3 million per unit, reports Block Club. Fern Hill and Free Market Ventures are developing the condo, just north of Bartelme Park.

Although there will not be designated affordable housing on site, the developers are partnering with the Pilsen Housing Cooperative to rehab a six-unit co-op building at 1716 S. Morgan St. The developers will seek to build more off-site affordable units under partnership with the cooperative, says zoning attorney Richard Klawitter.

After the committee deferred the project in 2018, the new plans have support from Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, whose 25th Ward includes the project site. He calls the new plans “more mindful of the density, the traffic, the congestion,” while providing a “fair share of community benefits.”

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