More Major Development Plans Take Root in the South Loop

The South Loop is in the middle of a transformative period. Some of the new projects going up in the neighborhood include the luxury condo building 1000M, two new Hilton hotels, and a new student center for Columbia College.

The neighborhood is also getting a new residential project at the site of a former public housing development, and more news about the ambitious 78 project has been revealed.

"The 78" rendering courtesy of Related Midwest

Southbridge Residential Development

The Harold L. Ickes Homes public housing development was demolished nearly a decade ago, and now, the site could be home to approximately 900 new residences, according to the Chicago Tribune. The proposed 11-acre development—known as Southbridge—would be built in three phases. When complete, the Southbridge project will bring 107 townhomes and condos and 770 apartments to the neighborhood. 

Developer McCaffery Interests and nonprofit Community Builders are leading the redevelopment of the Harold L. Ickes Homes site.

“We are another of these projects that are part of a major reinvestment in this Near South Side area,” Will Woodley, the Community Builders Chicago office director of development, told the Tribune. “Living near downtown Chicago, in vibrant neighborhoods where you can get to work and to the lakefront quickly, it’s just becoming more and more attractive to people. This is just an expansion of that.”

The first phase of the project, expected to cost $90 million, will involve constructing two apartment buildings and 18 townhomes. If approved, the project would join a number of other projects set to take off where the South Loop meets Bronzeville and Chinatown

The project has earned $17 million in tax increment financing, but it still needs to secure final approval from the City Council, according to the report.

4 Million Square Feet of Office Space at the 78

Developer Related Midwest has a number of big projects in the works, including The 78. The 78, set to sprawl across 62 acres, aims to become the city’s next neighborhood and to serve as a connection between the surrounding neighborhoods of Chinatown, Bronzeville, and Pilsen. As a part of the development, Related Midwest could be bringing as much as 4 million square feet of office space to the South Loop, according to a Crain’s Chicago Business report.

Related Midwest hopes to create “sidescraper” buildings, which the developer considers shorter than skyscrapers and with large floor plans. The developer is working with commercial real estate company Savills Studley to find office tenants. 

"Historically speaking, when someone wanted a corporate campus, they moved to the suburbs. The 78 is about accommodating them to give them all the amenities of the downtown experience without having to be in a high-rise,” Robert Sevim, vice chairman of Savills Studley, told Crain's. 

Home Plans for the 78

In addition to building office space to attract major companies to The 78, Related Midwest is also incorporating significant residential elements into its plan. The exact number of homes planned for the site has yet to be revealed, but the city’s Planned Development Designation will allow for a maximum of 10,000 units, according to the Gazette Chicago. Of the units built, 20 percent will be affordable housing.

The project could take a decade or more to complete, but it does have plenty of amenities planned for future residents. According to the plans, The 78 will have a seven-acre park along the Chicago River and a five-acre riverfront spot with bike paths and restaurants. 

“One of the things we’re really trying to do is maximize open space. It will be high density housing,” Michael Ellch, vice president of development at Related Midwest, told the Gazette. 

In addition to these major developments, the City of Chicago is in the process of selling a 2.4-acre lot in the neighborhood, according to The Real Deal. The site, located at 1701 S. Clark St., is being used as a parking lot for the Chicago Police Department. The report posits that the site, open to bidders this month, is attractive because of its proximity to other major South Loop developments. The lot is located near the 78 and the Riverline development, a project that will bring new towers and thousands of new homes to the waterfront.

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