Fulton Market is already one of the nation’s hottest housing markets, and another massive apartment tower is likely to break ground before the end of the year. Developer Sterling Bay unveiled Wednesday night during a virtual community meeting its latest plan for phase one of 1300 W. Carroll Ave., a 515-foot structure that company officials say they hope to secure city approval for in the coming months.
Sterling Bay updated its original design from late 2021 after Department of Planning and Development officials and community residents said they wanted to see more green space. The fat podium initially called for would have stretched across much of the block, and was replaced by one with a smaller footprint, opening enough room for a pocket park on the building’s east side and a public plaza on the west.
As builders transform the former industrial area into a sleek residential neighborhood and high-tech office center, bigger parks and other open spaces are likely to become more common in new developments, according to Sterling Bay Managing Director Fred Krol.
“It’s not achievable on every site,” he said. “But there simply are more residents in Fulton Market and the West Loop, and they want additional green space.”
Sterling Bay and its architectural firm SOM expanded the amount of green space at 1300 W. Carroll St. by more than 50%, he added. After hearing similar demands at another series of community meetings, the company also added green space to its original design for a boutique office building nearby at 360 N. Green St., where it broke ground last year.
“People love their dogs and want some place to walk them,” he said.
The property at 1300 W. Carroll St. was once home to Archer Daniels Midland Wheat Mill, a collection of loft office buildings, grain elevators and silos familiar to commuters on the adjacent Metra train tracks. Historic preservationists fought to save the buildings, some dating to the 19th century, and after buying the site for $25 million in 2020, Sterling Bay first drew up tentative plans to preserve and incorporate the old structures into a residential development. But after structural engineers nixed the idea, Sterling Bay in early 2021 cleared the site.
Other major changes were unveiled during Wednesday’s meeting, sponsored by the West Central Association, a local community group. Sterling Bay’s original plan called for a 418-foot tower in the first phase, with a second phase building of 515 feet. The new plan flips the buildings’ heights, and the slender first phase will reach 515 feet, have a total of 361 units, and sit atop a redesigned podium meant to resemble the old silos. The developer also decided to put much of the parking underground, which opened even more room for the public parks.
Sterling Bay has yet to release a final design for its second tower, but when complete, the complex should total 741 units. The first phase will next go before the Chicago Plan Commission, perhaps as early as April, Krol said, but will still need final approval from the full City Council.
Like most major housing developments recently launched in Fulton Market, Sterling Bay’s latest project will set aside 20% of these units as affordable housing, Krol added.
Developers in the pricey neighborhood had for years resisted pressure from planning officials to include that many affordable units, preferring instead to fulfill their obligations under the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance by donating to a city development fund, or constructing units off-site in less expensive areas. But an incentive program signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in 2021 promises steep cuts in property taxes for developers willing to place all affordable units on site.
“That is something we will definitely be looking at,” Krol said.