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Alderman Drops Opposition To New Fulton Market Residential Development

The Kinzie Industrial Corridor
The Kinzie Industrial Corridor

Reversing a long-held position, 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett has decided he will no longer oppose residential development north of Lake Street in the Fulton Market neighborhood, according to a report in Crain's Chicago Business. Burnett said he hopes his change of position will help spur economic activity, as many sectors shut down due to the pandemic.

Chicago's aldermen essentially have the power to block development projects in their districts, and for years Burnett would not allow new residential towers in this portion of Fulton Market. He had said adding thousands of residents north of Lake Street would have been a threat to the area's remaining manufacturing jobs, as apartment dwellers usually don't want to live next to industrial operations.  

Much of the area has already been transformed by developers into a sleek office hub, now home to tech firms such as Google, which occupies a former cold storage facility at 1000 West Fulton, and other top firms like McDonald's. But with so many firms putting their plans on hold, the office sector may no longer be much of an economic engine.

"We want to keep economic development happening in the city," Burnett told Crain's Chicago. "It's one of the most desired areas for residential right now, and I think this may help."  

Burnett has also pushed residential developers in his ward to boost the percentage of affordable units they include in new projects. He said developers interested in Fulton Market have told him if he lifted the ban, they would agree to set aside 20% of these units for affordable housing, double what the city normally requires.