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Massive 550-Unit Residential and Retail Complex Planned for Chicago's West Loop

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The site is currently the vacant former home of the H2O Plus company

Chicago’s West Loop may be in store for a new residential development near Mary Bartelme Park as the vacant H2O Plus headquarters at 845 W Madison may soon approach its inevitable appointment with the wrecking ball.

The lotion and shampoo manufacturer sold their two-story facility to real estate giant John Buck Company in spring of 2014 for $20 million. The sale included a caveat that allowed the company two years to relocate before Buck would move on the site. With H2O Plus headed to San Francisco and the two year grace period set to expire, timing couldn’t be better for the project to get going with downtown Chicago riding the crest of a significant new construction cycle.

A single rendering appearing on the John Buck Company’s website envisions a warehouse style building spanning nearly the entire city block. The proposal is at least eight stories in height with additional penthouse and amenities levels possible. No architect has been officially linked to the design. The glass and masonry neo-industrial aesthetic of the rendering evokes plenty of other recent West Loop projects from a number of firms. According to the JBC, 845 W Madison include 550 residential units and 10,000 square feet of retail space. The plan’s status is described as currently in the "pre-development" phase.

The site carries a DX-5 downtown mixed-use zoning designation, but considering the project’s scope of 500 plus units, Buck will most likely pursue a Planned Development (PD) which would require City of Chicago approval. So far, the plan has not surfaced on any city legislative agendas nor have any community meetings been announced.

While West Loop homeowners have generally welcomed new restaurants, hotels, and office buildings to their trendy neighborhood, recent conversations regarding new residential developments — particularly those involving rental units — have taken a decidedly nastier tone.