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Chicago Mayor Will Move Forward With $1B Revamp Of LaSalle Street Corridor

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson will go ahead with his predecessor’s plan to spend an estimated $1B breathing new life into old office space along the city’s flagging LaSalle Street corridor.

LaSalle Street facing the Chicago Board of Trade

After remaining mum on the subject for months, Johnson officials told Bloomberg the mayor has been working with developers to hone plans for repurposing several office buildings in and around the district that is home to the Chicago Board of Trade.

The city’s chief financial officer, Jill Jaworski, told the outlet that a high interest rate environment had delayed the projects, and a formal launch announcement is expected by this summer.

“It’s taken a little bit longer to get things going but we are working closely with those projects and doing what we can to move them forward,” Jaworski told Bloomberg. “We expect that we will see projects get announced and get off the ground in the near future.”

Former Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the LaSalle Street Reimagined initiative with great fanfare in September 2022, pledging that the city would finish what Google began earlier that year when it announced plans to make the architecturally famed James R. Thompson Center between LaSalle and Lake streets its new Chicago headquarters.

Offering tax increment financing dollars and other incentives to transform historic but emptied office buildings along the street, the Lightfoot administration requested proposals from developers to help build 1,000 new apartments and condos, 300 of which would be affordable.

Three finalists were selected in 2023, projects at 111 W. Monroe St., 135 S. LaSalle St. and 208 S. LaSalle St. Two of the projects came from Mike Reschke’s The Prime Group, which is redeveloping the Thompson Center for Google and has converted historic buildings in the LaSalle corridor since 2007, including the JW Marriott Chicago and the Residence Inn Chicago/Downtown.

The city later added two additional projects to the program, 30 N. LaSalle St. and 105 W. Adams St.

But Lightfoot’s historic defeat in the 2023 primary, the first time a Chicago incumbent mayor failed to win a second term in 40 years, threw those plans into question, and Johnson officials were silent on the fate of the initiative until now.

The news comes as the mayor’s office battles back from a judge’s decision to knock a controversial real estate transfer tax change off voters’ ballots later this month and as the city suffers a 50% drop in real estate sales prices.

The mayor last week announced new proposals to give the Loop area a shot in the arm, including a Chicago Board of Trade museum and grants to seven proposed storefront projects through the city’s small-business improvement fund. 

Johnson also announced the city would launch a committee to revitalize a downtown area grappling with record commercial and retail vacancies. A new downtown economic growth advisory committee will provide business leaders, organizations and key stakeholders with a direct line of communication to the mayor’s office, he said.