Developer to convert Morton Salt plant into offices and retail space

SHARE Developer to convert Morton Salt plant into offices and retail space

Morton’s distinctive rooftop sign will be preserved as the plant undergoes a major redevelopment project. | Provided Morton Salt

Morton Salt is selling its Elston Avenue plant to be redeveloped into spaces for offices, restaurants, retail and entertainment, the company announced Monday.

Chicago-based developer R2 will spend about $20 million to repurpose the 4.25-acre property at 1329 N. Elston Ave., with the deal stipulating that Morton’s distinctive rooftop sign will be preserved. The repurposed complex will be called the “Salt District.”

This is the latest announcement in a wave of development projects along the corridor between the Chicago River and Kennedy Expressway. The Chicago City Council approved new guidelines in July loosening regulations that designated the North Branch Corridor as a protected industrial area.

Morton Salt stopped operations in late 2015 at its Elston Avenue facility, which was used for packaging ice-melting and commercial salts. The company said Monday it is leasing 20,000 square feet of space from R2 to open a research and development office. Morton’s R&D center, which has about 20 employees, will move from Elgin to the Elston Avenue location in 2020.

“For generations, the Morton Salt site on Elston Avenue has been part of the fabric of Chicago,” CEO Christian Herrmann said in statement. “It is with that long, rich history in mind that we decided to explore a wide range of possibilities for the future of our iconic site. We knew it was ripe for redevelopment, and we took great care to find the right firm to help bring our vision to life. This redevelopment plan represents the next chapter of the Morton Salt story in Chicago.”

The deal closed on Dec. 29. The sale price was not officially disclosed, but a source told Crain’s it sold for $15 million. Morton’s Chief Marketing Officer Denise Lauer would not confirm that in an email.

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