Chicago’s South Loop Makes Big Gains

The South Loop was one of Chicago’s first residential districts. In the 1850s, working-class immigrants, primarily Irish, initially settled south near the river to work in the railroad industry. By 1900, railroad tracks filled the southern edge of the central business district now called the South Loop. As Chicago became the nation’s printing center, the South Loop was home to “Printers Row”. With the decline of passenger traffic on trains, the South Loop went into decline leaving empty buildings riddled with miles of unused train tracks. By 1973, the city of Chicago approved a new city plan to redevelop the South Loop.

The South Loop is one of Chicago’s hottest and most dynamic neighborhoods filled with swanky pubs, microbreweries, eateries and trendy retail stores.  As more people are attracted to the idea of living, working and playing in the same area, demand for stylish, modern housing is increasing in the South Loop.

In 1993 in an effort to bolster housing and commercial development, Mayor Daley moved to the South Loop. Soon, developers flooded in, followed by homebuyers, to move into new loft style units converted from old empty industrial buildings and construction of new high-rises. Rents for new apartment projects in the South Loop are just over $3 per sq. foot starting at $1700 month for a studio apartment while rents in downtown start at $4 per sq. foot.  And while the urban loft lifestyle appeals to many single working adults, young couples, and retirees, the South Loop has proven to be an ideal neighborhood to raise a family because of its close proximity to transportation, educational institutions, jobs, culture and recreation.

Large Scale Development Projects in South Loop

  • AMLI, a REIT and a leading owner of multifamily projects across the US, constructed a new 398-unit project called AMLI Lofts and is constructing another 469-unit project
  • Chicago’s Oxford Capital is planning a 48-story apartment tower of 388-units on the old Essex Inn site
  • One Place Condominiums – a 10-story mixed-use development with 18,000 sq. feet of retail and 8-floors of condos as well as a 44,000 sq. foot health club and 260-underground parking garage
  • JDL is building a 469-unit tower located at 1000. S. Clark
  • CMK is building a 72-story 714-unit condo tower called the River City Complex that will include three residential towers and 76-condos as Phase I and 2,700 units on 7.3 acres for Phase II and has recently purchased other sites in this area
  • Astoria Tower is a residential high-rise featuring studio, one and two bedroom units
  • Developer John Murphy is constructing a mixed-use project – 48-story 500-unit and 8,000 sq. feet of retail
  • Architect Helmut Jahn is designing a 86-story 500-unit apartment building standing 1030 feet tall, making it the fifth tallest building in Chicago or sixth if the 93-story Wanda Vista project gets approved
  • Crescent Heights is planning a 76-story 800-unit apartment project
  • The Old Post Office that is 46-acres is one of the last remaining large sites for development where developers are looking at different planning schemes
  • McCormick Place –  will be a 19-story 246  apartment tower together with a 144-room hotel
  • The South Works Development/McCaffery Interests, in partnership with U.S. Steel, are redeveloping the former U.S. Steel South Works site into a 500‐acre master planned community with zoning approvals for approximately 13,575 single family homes and high rise units, 17.5 million sq. feet of retail, 125 acres of landscaped open space with bike paths, a 1,500‐slip boat marina and a new high school

Other News in South Loop

  • The posh private British School has opened a campus in Chicago’s South Loop.
  • The Obama Presidential Library is expected to be located at the University of Chicago.
  • Chicago-based Laramar Group just closed on the Carriage House Lofts, an 81-unit building built in 1898 that underwent renovations in 1996, for $20.50 million.
  • The University of Chicago will build a new $8 million medical clinic and signed a 12-year lease for 18,000 square feet to offer primary care, cardiology, orthopedic, sports medicine and obstetrics-gynecology, reproductive and other services for women.
  • Pioneer Acquisitions of New York purchased 21 multifamily buildings, totaling 690 apartments, from the University of Chicago. The University intends to reinvest the proceeds to support its teaching and research activities.
About the Author
Ron Diller lives in Israel and has over 25 years’ experience in the US real estate industry, primarily in the multifamily sector.