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958-foot SOM-designed skyscraper proposed at Chicago’s Union Station

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Developer Sterling Bay has revealed its plans for a new office tower in Chicago’s booming West Loop

Real estate juggernaut Sterling Bay has taken the wraps off an ambitious plan to construct a 958-foot skyscraper designed by local architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The tower, first reported by Crain’s Chicago Business, is likely to replace the parking garage located just south of Union Station’s new Transit Center, and could contain as much as 2 million square feet of office space. Sterling Bay is reportedly in talks with tenants large enough to potentially anchor the development and get the project off the ground.

The redevelopment of Union Station’s air rights and and other adjacent Amtrak-controlled assets has been on the table for a long time and experienced several false starts over the years. Though Amtrak put out a request for qualification for a master developer earlier this year, it declined to publicly confirm Sterling Bay’s involvement in its plans. A short list of potential master developers, however, is expected to be announced by the rail operator shortly.

If the recent SOM rendering looks somewhat familiar, it’s likely due to its uncanny resemblance to an unbuilt 40-story design for 625 W. Monroe from SMDP Studio that was revealed back in 2013. That project — spearheaded by Fifield Cos. — evolved into a redesigned 75-story proposal the following year and has been more or less silent ever since.

The Crain’s story also sheds light on several previously unreported details regarding a number of Sterling Bay ventures. The Chicago-based developer revealed it is planning residential high-rises at 300 N. Michigan Avenue and 160 N. Morgan Street and intends to buy the 18-acre site currently occupied by the City of Chicago’s Department of Fleet and Facility Management on the north branch of the Chicago River.

If that wasn't enough, Sterling Bay plans a 600-spot parking facility in the West Loop, a 200-room extended-stay hotel just west of McDonald’s upcoming HQ, a "moderately dense" mixed-use development at the former Finkl Steel site, and an eastward extension of 606 trail. The firm’s redevelopment of the recently acquired Coyne College campus has also grown to 1 million square feet of new office space — up from the previously reported 400,000 square feet.


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Early design for 625 W. Monroe