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3L Real Estate To Spend Up To $20M Turning The Johnson Publishing Building Into Apartments

A rendering of 3L Real Estate's plans for the Johnson Publishing Building in the South Loop.
A rendering of 3L Real Estate's plans for the Johnson Publishing Building in the South Loop.

The Johnson Publishing Building, once home to the legendary black-owned Ebony and Jet magazines, has a new lease on life as apartments. 3L Real Estate bought the landmarked building from Columbia College Chicago for $10M and plans to invest another $15M to $20M converting the 11-story office building into apartments.

CEO Joseph Slezak said 3L will build 150 apartments, most of them studios and one-bedroom units. The building was designed in 1971 by John Warren Moutoussamy, who studied under Mies van der Rohe, and is the only downtown building designed by an African-American. Slezak said the iconic Ebony/Jet sign atop the building will remain. Rents will range between $1,200/month for a studio to $2,700/month for one of the handful of two-bedroom units planned.

The Johnson Publishing building will receive a major tech upgrade. Slezak said 3L plans to have the best possible internet connectivity and related services available. There will be a fitness center on-site and each floor will have laundry rooms. A rooftop deck will offer unobstructed views of Grant Park and Hutchinson Field, and a new retail tenant will anchor the ground level. 

As for the Johnson Publishing Building's famous avant garde interiors, Slezak said that most have already been stripped away. But there is plenty of photographic evidence the firm can use to pay tribute to Moutoussamy's designs.

Slezak said 3L will spend the winter prepping the interiors, and work on the exterior will begin in spring 2018, with an anticipated completion of summer 2019.