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Fulton Market Project Fuels Chicago’s Life Sciences Ambitions

A new 16-story life sciences facility coming to Fulton Market will add more than 500K SF of laboratory, office, and research and development space to the city as leaders push to make Chicago a top life sciences hub.

Rendering of 400 North Elizabeth St.

Chicago-based Mark Goodman & Associates announced this week it had closed on a 1.5-acre parcel of land at 400 North Elizabeth St. and will start construction later this year on the project it calls the “first purpose-built lab and research and development building in Chicago designed to specifically accommodate the rapidly growing life sciences and biotechnology industry.” 

“The life sciences market has never been stronger, and with the addition of this building, Chicago is quickly on track to emerge as one of the next centers of excellence in the field to attract highly sought-after investment and premier talent,” MGA principal Mark Goodman said in a release. “With 400 N. Elizabeth, Chicago will have one of the only new R & D/Lab buildings designed by and for scientists to create best-in-class innovation.”

Designed by Solomon Cordwell Buentz, the 503K SF structure will be a low embodied carbon building carrying both LEED Gold and WELL certifications. The space will be suitable for a range of industry uses, including biotechnology, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, clean energy, food sciences and nanotechnology, MGA said.

The announcement comes amid a city and corporate effort to transform Chicago into a life sciences mecca rivaling Boston and San Francisco, one that would help fill out several of the massive mixed-use developments set to rise on the downtown’s periphery while propelling new job creation and infrastructure improvements in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Citing JLL data, MGA said Chicago is well-positioned to grow its life sciences-based enterprises, with a highly educated workforce, a number of high-tech accelerators and medical research institutions, and the nation’s second-largest concentration of pharmaceutical and manufacturing anchor firms and second-largest urban medical district, the Illinois Medical District. The city also collected the largest percentage increase in life sciences venture capital and National Institutes of Health funding of any major market over the past three years, per JLL.

Yet a shortage of lab space has been often cited as a major impediment to the growth of Chicago’s life sciences industry. That could be changing with the addition of 400 North Elizabeth and other projects in the works, JLL Managing Director Scott Brandwein said.

“While Chicago is attracting life sciences investment in many neighborhoods, Fulton Market is quickly becoming a de facto hub in the city, with additional supply of lab space being planned and delivered,” Brandwein said, adding the neighborhood's proximity to the medical district and major educational institutions as well as nearby amenities like high-end housing and upscale restaurants make it desirable for employees.

MGA said pre-construction planning and work at the site, formerly home of the Lakeshore Beverage distributorship, will start immediately. Site preparation, including demolition of the Lakeshore Beverage building, will follow, with a groundbreaking set for next year and a 20-month construction timeline. The building is expected to deliver in 2024.