POTENTIAL WIN: Three Historic LaSalle Street Skyscrapers Selected For Adaptive Reuse

Harris Bank Building, 1910, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, 111 W. Monroe. Rendering credit: Stantec
The Field Building, 1934, Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, 135 S. LaSalle St. Rendering credit: Solomon Cordwell Buenz

“City officials have picked three projects totaling 1,000 apartments to kick off their push to revive the beleaguered LaSalle Street business district by providing subsidies to developers that convert office buildings there into mixed-income housing.

“The developers of the projects at 111 W. Monroe St., 135 S. LaSalle St. and 208 S. LaSalle St. are seeking a combined $188 million in tax-increment financing from the city, money they say they need to make the developments financially feasible. In return, the developers would set aside nearly 320 apartments for low- and moderate-income renters.

“Mayor Lori Lightfoot is betting that the initiative, known as LaSalle Reimagined, will spark a wave of development and create new energy in the central Loop, which has suffered greatly since the beginning of the pandemic more than three years ago as many office professionals have worked remote or hybrid schedules. The downtown office vacancy rate hit a record high at the end of 2022, but the downtown apartment market remains healthy.

“‘The LaSalle Street corridor is a vital economic engine for our entire city, and we must ensure it remains that way by transforming it from a homogenous office district into a thriving, mixed-use community,’ Lightfoot said in a statement. ‘By converting underutilized office space to residential units, we will make the Loop a safer, more dynamic and vibrant place to live and work.’

“City officials selected not one but two projects proposed by Chicago developer Michael Reschke, one totaling 280 units at 208 S. LaSalle St and one with 349 units at 111 W. Monroe St. that he would develop with Chicago-based Capri Investment Group.

“Reschke, chairman and CEO of Prime Group, has invested heavily in LaSalle Street over the years, developing the JW Marriott, Marriott Residence Inn and LaSalle Hotel there. He and Capri are also teaming up with Google on a major redevelopment of the James R. Thompson Center across from City Hall and is revamping an office building at 115 S. LaSalle St. where the state of Illinois plans to move.

“City officials also picked a $258 million proposal by Chicago-based Riverside Investment & Development and New York-based AmTrust Realty to build out 430 apartments in the lower floors of the landmark high-rise at 135 S. LaSalle, the former home of Bank of America.

“The city chose the developments from a short list of six proposals that developers presented to the public at the beginning of March. City officials scored each project on multiple criteria, including the amount of affordable housing created, historical preservation factors, the financial structure of the deal and the developer’s ability to execute on its plan, said Samir Mayekar, deputy mayor for economic and neighborhood development.

“To receive TIF funds or other incentives, the LaSalle Street developers are required to set aside at least 30% of the units as affordable, more than the 20% minimum for many new high-rise residential developments in the city. The affordable units in the LaSalle Street projects will target tenants earning 60% of the area median annual income, or $50,040 for a two-person household. (Gallun, Crain’s Chicago Business, 3/28/23)

“The winning proposals total 1.6 million square feet of space and include:

“The Monroe Residences & Hotel, 111 W. Monroe St.
The $180 million proposal from The Prime Group Inc. and Capri Interests LLC would adaptively re-use 610,000 square feet of space to create 349 studio, one-, and two-bedroom units within the upper stories of a 1910 National Register high-rise. Related improvements would include lobby renovations, a bar and restaurant, and basement parking. The proposal’s TIF request is $40 million. A separate, 226-key hotel project would proceed simultaneously within the building’s lower floors.

“The Field Building, 135 S. LaSalle St.
The $258 million proposal from Riverside Investment & Development and AmTrust Properties would adaptively re-use 750,000 square feet of space to create 430 studio, one-, and two-bedroom units within a 1934 landmark high-rise. Related improvements would include the activation of more than 80,000 square feet of multi-level retail space that could include a neighborhood grocer. The proposal’s TIF request is $115 million.

“The LaSalle Residences, 208 S. LaSalle St.
The $130 million proposal from The Prime Group Inc. would adaptively re-use 222,500 square feet of space to create 280 studio, one-, and two-bedroom units within a 1914 landmark high-rise. Related improvements would include 6,900 square feet of retail upgrades, a full-service restaurant, plus a variety of tenant amenities. The proposal’s TIF request is $33 million.” (Chicago Press Release, 3/28/23)

Preservation Chicago encourages Chicago Landmark Designation for the LaSalle Street buildings that are not currently landmarks, including 111 W. Monroe and 105 W. Adams. Landmark designation would require a higher quality adaptive reuse, retention of the historic building features, and would help ensure these buildings qualify for millions of dollars of Historic Tax Credits.

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