The historic character of the Fulton Market District gateway is threatened by a 19-story office building proposed for the entire block bounded by Fulton, Halsted, Wayman and Green streets. This property is at the gateway to the neighborhood and is adjacent to the neighborhood’s distinctive gateway signage near the corner of Halsted and Fulton. The current development plan proposes to demolish all of the existing historic brick buildings at the site which are so characteristic of the West Loop and of the Fulton-Randolph Market Landmark District.
The development proposal by New York developer Thor Equities envisions an approximately 420,000-square-foot, 19-story office building to be designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). At a recent Zoning Committee meeting, the significant upzoning from C2-5 to DX-7 required to accommodate the large new building was approved. The proposed 326-foot height is over twice the 150- foot height maximum recommended by the Neighbors of the West Loop neighborhood plan adopted in 2018.
Preservation Chicago strongly encourages Thor Equities and SOM to save the historic loft building facades of 810 W. Fulton Market and 300 N. Green Street and incorporate them into the base of any proposed new construction projects. The proposed new building design steps back to help to reduce the building mass. The first step back is above the third floor. The existing historic loft warehouse buildings are of a similar height to this first level and could be adaptive reused.
These four-story, red brick, loft buildings are characteristic of the Fulton Market District and would provide the appropriate scale and material for the streetscape. It is even more important that these building facades be reused because they serve as the gateway buildings to the entire Fulton Market District. Ironically, these gateway buildings were not included within the boundaries of the Fulton-Randolph Market Landmark District.
Furthermore, Thor Equites has specific experience with façade adaptive reuse at their project under construction a couple of blocks away at 905 West Fulton Market. In this case, the facades were in much worse condition than those at 810 W. Fulton Market, yet they are being successfully incorporated into the new development and provide a sense of character and authenticity to the new construction. Preservation Chicago urges Thor Equities and SOM to pursue this direction.
Erin Bowler, a longtime resident of 720 W. Fulton Building stated that “maintaining the historic character [of the Fulton Market District] benefits not just us and the neighborhood but the whole city and the district itself.”
19-Story Building Planned At Fulton Market Gateway, But Streets Can’t Handle It, West Loop Leader Says; The booming area’s infrastructure need to be redesigned or upgraded to handle another large office building, the leader said. Mauricio Pena, Block Club Chicago, 10/10/18
SOM-designed office tower planned near Fulton Market gateway; Developers filed a zoning application for an 18-story building earlier this week, Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, 10/30/18
Big office building planned for Fulton Market District gateway; Thor Equities wants to put a 20-story glass-and-steel office building on a full city block at the doorstep to the Fulton Market District, Danny Ecker, Crain’s Chicago Business, 10/5/18
More West Loop Development Worries Some, Welcomed By Others, Vince Gerasole, CBS Chicago, 10/17/18