Chicago’s construction hotspots: Fulton Market, Bronzeville and more

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Sterling bay 345 n. morgan
Rendering of Sterling Bay's building at 345 N. Morgan courtesy ECKENHOFF SAUNDERS

Where are Chicago’s current construction hotspots?

Steven Vance’s Chicago Cityscape worked with Heather Morrison, CEO of MAP Strategies, to provide an update about the latest trends and hotspots of where permits and new construction are occurring for Nov. 4 event and blog posting.

Here is a summary of some of their findings.

Office developments

The vast majority of new office buildings is in the West Loop, specifically within the Fulton Market Innovation District (FMID), Vance reports. “Fulton Labs, a new life sciences office building at 400 N. Aberdeen (from Trammell Crow) opens this year, and Sterling Bay is currently constructing 345 N. Morgan. Sterling Bay has another office building that could be approved this year and obtain permits this year or next.”

Meanwhile, Trammell Crow has also proposed a two-building development straddling Carroll Avenue in the FMID between May and Aberdeen Streets. “The south building will have offices and the north building will have apartments and face the Metra tracks. What’s unique is that Carroll Avenue will be converted into a kind of shared street, and two plazas between the buildings will blend together,” Chicago Cityscape says.

“Metra wants to build a new station at Kinzie Street between Ogden and Ashland (still in the West Loop but just outside the FMID), two blocks north of the Ashland Green/Pink Line station. This is three to four blocks west of where Sterling Bay had proposed a new Metra station several years ago.”

“Two miles north, Sterling Bay broke ground on their first office building in Lincoln Yards in October, and it was permitted in October, too. MAPS obtained infrastructure approvals to bring brand new utilities to raw land in order to prep the site for vertical construction for Lincoln Yards South.”

Residential projects

The biggest hotspots for medium and large new construction housing are in Bronzeville, the Near South Side (especially the area between the South Loop and Bronzeville), Jefferson Park and Portage Park, Uptown, and the West Loop and Near West Side, Chicago Cityscape says. These include significant Chicago Housing Authority developments.

Meanwhile, smaller projects are booming in Bronzeville, and to a lesser extent to the south in Washington Park and Woodlawn. “There are thousands of vacant lots here and they are being developed with market rate single-detached houses and two or three-flats. There are also many market rate townhouse developments scattered across Bronzeville.”

However, the presumed effect of the Obama Presidential Center in Woodlawn to spur more housing, now under construction, is not yet visible in building permit data, Vance reports.

Illinois Medical District and other hotspots

Several projects are underway in the Illinois Medical District (IMD), largely by the Marequette Companies. IMD’s Planned Development was modified this year to change the density and parking requirements across the district, to slightly upzone and significantly reduce parking requirements.

“Many developments go under the radar, by going the as of right route, using existing zoning allowances so as not to have to change the zoning district,” CityScape says. “These are more common in neighborhoods miles away from downtown, including Edgewater, Belmont Cragin, and Pilsen. Many of these developments follow the standard 1:1 parking ratio as they are not within transit-served locations.”

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