Apr 3, 2024 - Development

LaSalle Street corridor plan to build more housing downtown advances


Chicago's historic LaSalle Street financial district could become a mixed-use residential area under a new plan. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

A plan to reimagine areas with empty office space along the LaSalle Street corridor into a mixed-use residential district is moving ahead.

Why it matters: The projects could transform Chicago's financial district and spark an economic restart for the Loop — which has struggled to recover from the pandemic.

Catch up quick: Former Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the LaSalle Street Reimagined plan late last year, and some had worried it would stall after her departure.

  • But Mayor Brandon Johnson has pushed affordable housing as one of his central policies and is now offering over $150 million in tax increment financing (TIF) to convert four old office buildings into at least partial residences.

What they're saying: It's "one of the largest adaptive reuse efforts to move forward within any central business district in the United States," Department of Planning and Development commissioner Ciere Boatright said at a press conference Wednesday.

By the numbers: The four projects could cost over $500 million and aim to create 1,000 housing units.

  • The projects span over 1.3 million square feet, using 40 stories of downtown real estate.
  • 319 of those units would be set aside for affordable housing.
  • Affordable units would be available to those making an average of 60% of the median Chicago income, or about $53,000 for a household of two.
Photo of a building
208 S. LaSalle St. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

The projects would be constructed in parts of existing buildings on Monroe and LaSalle Streets, at the following addresses:

  • 79 W. Monroe St.: The Bell Federal building would redevelop eight floors into 117 units, with 41 affordable units available. The project would also restore the "Weather Bell" sign.
  • 111 W. Monroe St.: The building dates back to 1911. The reuse plan would use 14 floors of the high-rise to create 345 units, 105 affordable. If the developer can get Landmark status, they would also develop a 228-room hotel.
  • 208 S. LaSalle St.: The building is the original home of the Continental and Commercial National Bank. This redevelopment project would create 226 apartments, 68 affordable.
  • 30 N. LaSalle St.: This high-rise redevelopment would create 349 units, 105 affordable. The original proposal called for ground-floor retail, and outdoor street seating.

The intrigue: Two other projects, at 105 W. Adams and 135 N. LaSalle, were not approved Wednesday, but Boatright says the city is planning more adaptive reuse projects for those historic buildings.

What's next: The four proposals still need approval from the City Council and the Landmarks Commission.

  • If approved, construction could begin this year and be completed by 2027.

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