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Sterling Bay hatches two-tower plan for Fulton Market

The development firm has proposed high-rises with a blend of residences and offices.

A rendering of the first phase planned at 1300 W. Carroll Ave.
A rendering of the first phase planned at 1300 W. Carroll Ave.
Sterling Bay/Skidmore, Owings and Merrill

Sterling Bay, the most active real estate investor in Fulton Market, has revealed its biggest plan to date in the community, where development interest has remained intense despite disruptions from the pandemic.

The firm has submitted to city officials plans for a two-tower development at 1300 W. Carroll Ave. Its zoning application, to be introduced at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, calls for a two-phase project that would mix residences with office floors.

The first building, on the east end of the site, would be 418 feet tall and contain 338 homes, 204,000 square feet for offices and a large parking allotment for 460 cars, according to the submission. The second proposed building would be 515 feet tall, with either 633 homes, 569,000 square feet of offices, or a combination of the two. The building would have parking for 255 cars.

The roughly two-acre site is vacant but was the home of an old Archer Daniels Midland grain mill and silos that Sterling Bay tore down earlier this year. The group Preservation Chicago criticized the destruction of a building it said dated from 1897, but area residents didn’t object to losing a relic of Fulton Market’s history in food production.

The zoning application sets in motion community meetings and hearings by city agencies before the City Council votes on it. The plan could be revised or scrapped based on feedback. Residents have mostly backed the area’s transformation into a trendy high-rise neighborhood.

Damone Richardson, president of the West Loop Community Organization, said he has not seen details of Sterling Bay’s plan. “We know that it’s coming. We know that it’s tall. Right now, the community has accepted that this is a new reality for the West Loop. There’s a will for this to happen,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Sterling Bay declined to comment about the possible timing of construction or other aspects of the plan. The firm has hired the Chicago architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill for the project.

The plan is subject to the city’s ordinance governing affordable housing. It requires that most residential construction projects build 20% of the units at reduced rents, either on the property or at another city location. Sterling Bay said in the filing it will provide all 20% of the affordable units on-site.

Ground-floor retail uses would be part of both buildings.

By leaving open the precise use of the second building, Sterling Bay is hedging its bets on continued growth of the office market. The pandemic has made remote work common, but many developers believe companies will expand office footprints, often with amenities designed to draw workers back from home.

Companies also continue to flock to Fulton Market. The area has attracted leases from Kimberly-Clark, Calamos Investments, Flock Freight, Farmer’s Business Network, Glassdoor and many more.

Also due for submission to the City Council is another Fulton Market zoning proposal for 210 N. Morgan St. The firm Newcastle has proposed a 30-story building with 204 residences on the property.