New York-based firm submits three-tower plan for Fulton Market

The project, which could bring in 1,500 new residences, is part of a continued push by developers into sites west of downtown, despite signs of caution in the market.

SHARE New York-based firm submits three-tower plan for Fulton Market
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A rendering shows a southeast view of proposed towers at 370 and 400 N. Morgan St. A later building possible for 401 N. Morgan is shown in shaded form on the left.

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A New York-based developer that has invested heavily in Chicago is seeking zoning approval for two new projects west of downtown, including a three-tower complex that could add more than 1,500 residences to Fulton Market.

Vista Property has submitted to the City Council plans for buildings at 370, 400 and 401 N. Morgan St. Working with the architectural firm Gensler, Vista has proposed buildings in the 30- to 40-story range, with retail on the ground floor.

If commenced, the development would be a large new entrant in the development push through Fulton Market, an old meat- and produce-packing district that has been transformed into a trendy hub for offices, residences and restaurants. Even through the pandemic, the area has commanded high rents for offices and apartments.

Documents filed with the city show Vista intends the towers at 370 and 400 N. Morgan to be the project’s first phase. The later phase at 401 N. Morgan could be residential or offices, depending on market demand at the time, the documents show.

The three high-rises would replace small industrial buildings and vacant property. The 401 N. Morgan project would incorporate space for an ongoing business, Morgan Manufacturing. Despite the name, Morgan Manufacturing is an event space for weddings and other functions.

Vista’s other zoning proposal involves a parking lot at 640 W. Randolph St. It has retained architectural firm Antunovich Associates to design a 15-story office building, similar to one it put up at 609 W. Randolph.

Citing the ongoing zoning reviews, Vista Principal Hymie Mishan declined to comment on the projects. His firm has invested in residential buildings and small retail developments in Chicago, London and Naperville.

Vista said it will market 20% of the new Morgan Street homes as affordable units under rules set by the city. They are expected to be rentals rather than condos.

The proposed zoning changes start a city review process that includes a hearing before the Chicago Plan Commission, an agency of mayoral appointees that advises the City Council on major projects. The projects would then need approval from the City Council’s zoning committee before a final vote of all alderpersons.

The Morgan Street development is in the 27th Ward of Ald. Walter Burnett Jr., who said the matter still needs review from community groups. He said he’s examining its details, including its possible effects on parking for residences around Hubbard Street.

Vista’s proposal calls for a minimum of 317 parking spaces within the buildings. In December, the city’s Committee on Design, an independent group of architects and others involved in real estate, reviewed the plans and suggested some changes. It’s not known if final plans will reflect the panel’s input.

The committee also has recently reviewed other sizable projects for Fulton Market. They include a proposal from Crescent Heights for a 52-story residential building at 420 N. May St., and a submission from Onni Group calling for a 29-story office tower at 357 N. Green St.

“They’re working me to death,” Burnett said of the incoming projects, which get community and aldermanic review as well as the city hearings. “We’re trying to pace these things, but I don’t want to hold up progress and economic development in the city.”

Interest rates and inflation have hit construction budgets, while remote work has caused some companies to reconsider how much office space they need. Developers push new plans despite those headwinds, but analysts believe some projects could remain on hold for a while, even if they get zoning approval.

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