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Fulton Market office building gets planners’ blessing

The 14-story project will rely on demand picking up as worries about virus subside.

The Chicago Plan Commission unanimously endorsed construction of a 14-story office building in Fulton Market for 1200 W. Carroll Ave, where it would replace a one-story building.
Provided rendering

The city’s planning agency Thursday approved construction of a 14-story office building in Fulton Market, a proposal backed by the neighborhood’s busiest developer, Sterling Bay.

With praise for the building’s design, the Chicago Plan Commission unanimously endorsed the project for 1200 W. Carroll Ave, where it would replace a one-story building. At 485,000 square feet, the building would include 90 parking spaces.

The proposal represents a bet that growth will resume in the business district beyond the Loop once concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic abate. For the time being, many office users have put off decisions about expanding or moving to new space, unsure about the state of the economy or how many staff might continue working from home.

Sterling Bay has not announced any tenants for the building.

In meetings with Near West Side community groups, the building’s design by the firm Gensler won overwhelming praise. Its large windows and hidden placement of structural supports give it a nearly transparent look. It includes terraces so tenants can spend time outdoors.

“I think it’s going to be a signature building in the Fulton district,” said city planning Commissioner Maurice Cox.

The commission’s approval of a zoning change means the project has cleared a key hurdle. The matter now heads to the City Council for final action.

The building is a $110 million project. City officials said the zoning deal requires Sterling Bay to contribute $4.3 million to the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund that supports commercial improvements on the South and West sides.

In other business, the commission approved construction of a 580,000-square-foot distribution center at 3044 E. 122nd St., a $45 million project near Ford’s Southeast Side factory. A source said Ford is leasing space in the building to store and reuse containers for parts shipments.