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Chicago Mayor Pulls Trigger On Initiative To Bring Hundreds Of Apartment Units To The Loop

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is moving forward with a Lori Lightfoot administration initiative to transform aging, mostly vacant offices in the hard-hit LaSalle Street corridor into 1,000 new housing units.

A portion of LaSalle Street ending at the Chicago Board of Trade

Eleven months after taking office, Johnson pledged Wednesday that the city will commit just over $151M in tax increment financing to developers planning to transform four flagging office buildings into apartments as part of the LaSalle Street Reimagined program, the Chicago Business Journal reported

Lighfoot announced the LaSalle Street initiative to 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 renowned James R. Thompson Center between LaSalle and Lake streets its new Chicago headquarters.

Johnson administration officials signaled they planned to move forward with the program earlier this month but offered few details, blaming high interest rates for a delay in getting the projects moving. The assistance offer unveiled this week is pared down from the $260M Lightfoot had proposed allocating to five projects.

“These transformative projects within the Loop signify more than a revitalization of space. They embody our city's dedication to inclusivity and growth,” Johnson said at a Wednesday press conference. “By creating more than 1,000 homes, including more than 300 affordable units, we are investing in the futures of countless Chicago families and keeping our Loop community a welcoming hub for all.”

The four projects selected for repurposing by Johnson’s predecessor are valued at nearly $530M in combined development costs, the CBJ reported. They include 319 units designated for renters making 60% of the area median income of $116K annually.

The Loop is home to just 32 affordable units, Planning and Development Commissioner Ciere Boatright told the outlet. The buildings would be converted into studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments.

“We are certain from careful underwriting that this investment in affordability is viable, sustainable and essential to the Loop’s mixed-use, mixed-income future for all Chicagoans, especially given the total absence of affordable homes within the corridor,” she said. “These four projects are sure to become poster children for the Loop’s rebirth as a mixed-use neighborhood.”

The projects on the conversion radar are: 

  • 111 W. Monroe St., a $203M project that would create 345 apartments developed by The Prime Group and Capri Investment Group.
  • 79 W. Monroe St., a $64.2M project that would create 117 units developed by Campari Group.
  • 30 N. LaSalle St., a $130.2M project that would create 349 units developed by Golub & Co.
  • 208 S. LaSalle St., a $203M project that would create 226 units developed by The Prime Group.

Boatright said the city would likely add more projects to the roster as it studies adaptive reuse proposals for 135 S. LaSalle St. and 105 W. Adams St., which were also selected as finalists for TIF funding while Lightfoot was in office.

All four projects still need approval from the city’s Community Development and Landmarks commissions, the city council’s Zoning Committee and the full city council.

Alderperson Bill Conway, whose 34th Ward includes the project sites, told Block Club Chicago he will be in full support.

“The pandemic had a huge impact on our central business district, as it has every central business district in the world,” he said. “I am thrilled and grateful that these projects are moving forward and grateful to Mayor Johnson as well as to the Department of Planning and Development.”