THREATENED: Fulton Market Block Endangered

Loft Building Targeted for Demolition at 810 W. Fulton Market, Photo Credit: Google Street View
Loft Building Targeted for Demolition at 300 N. Green Street, Photo Credit: Maurico Pena / Block Club Chicago

The historic integrity and character of the Fulton Market District gateway is threatened by an 18-story glass-and-steel office building proposed for the entire block bounded by Fulton, Halsted, Wayman, and Green streets. This property is immediately to the north of the neighborhood’s distinctive gateway signage near the corner of Halsted and Fulton. The block consists of a collection of industrial buildings, including Isaacson & Stein Fish Company and Mid nightclub. The current development plan proposes to demolish all of the existing buildings.

The development proposal by New York developer Thor Equities envisions an approximately 400,000 square foot, 18 story glass-and-steel office building to be designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). To proceed, a significant upzoning from C2-5 to DX-7 will be required to accommodate the large new building. Thor would need to win support for the project upzoning from neighborhood groups and 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett. Thor is scheduled to meet with neighborhood community groups including West Central Association sometime in November and Neighbors of the West Loop on November 13th to seek their support. Alderman Burnett is reserving judgment on the proposal until after the plan is presented at public meetings and community groups.

Carla Agostinelli, executive director of the West Loop Community Organization told Block Club Chicago, “It’s great to see Fulton Street developed because we want to see economic development … but the infrastructure cannot support what is currently on the street, let alone a developer proposing a 19-story building that will bring in thousands of more people to an already congested area.” (Pena, Block Club Chicago, 10/10/18)

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.”

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. These four-story, red brick, loft buildings are highly characteristic of the Fulton Market District and would provide the appropriate scale and material for the streetscape. It’s even more important that these building facades be reused because they serve as the gateway buildings to the entire Fulton Market District.

Additionally, taking steps to reuse, restore and incorporate the historic facades will demonstrate a genuine interest on the part of the developer in the existing character of the neighborhood and generate goodwill in advance of the neighborhood community meetings. Especially considering how many other properties Thor Equities owns in the Fulton Market District, generating and maintaining goodwill with the community groups should be a priority.

Furthermore, Thor Equites has specific experience with façade adaptive reuse as their project under construction a couple 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 strongly urges the Thor Equities and SOM to pursue this direction.

Loft Building Historic Facades to be Saved and Integrated into New Development at 230 N. Peoria Street DURING Construction, another Thor Equities Development, Photo Credit: Google Street View
Loft Building Historic Facades to be Saved and Integrated into New Development at 230 N. Peoria Street PRIOR to Construction, another Thor Equities Development, Photo Credit: Google Street View

Additional Reading
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

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