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Apartment conversion of Chicago’s Johnson Publishing Building moves forward

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The landmarked building’s iconic Ebony/Jet sign will remain


Once home to Chicago-based Ebony and Jet magazines, South Michigan Avenue’s 11-story Johnson Publishing Building is preparing to start its transformation from office space to 150 rental apartments. Today, developer 3L Real Estate announced that it has acquired the old building from Columbia College and expects to start work on the conversion in early 2018.

A rendering showing the planned addition of a rooftop tenant terrace.
3L Real Estate

Built in 1971, the tower was designed by John Warren Moutoussamy, an architect who studied under Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology. The tower represents the first and only downtown Chicago high-rise to be designed by an African American. Vacant for the past seven years, Johnson Publishing was designated a city landmark earlier this fall.

Its new owners intend to leave the tower’s iconic Ebony/Jet sign at the building as well as add a new rooftop deck. The 150 unit mix of studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments will average over 500 square feet and rent for between $1,200 to $2,700 per month, says the developer.

Though today’s release from 3L mentions an intention to maintain the historic character of the building, it’s still unclear how much of the 46-year-old structure’s delightfully 1970s interior will actually be saved and reused in the tower’s shift to residential. Delivery is expected in the summer of 2019.

Meanwhile, an interior demolition permit for the Johnson Publishing Building was issued last week. The scope of the work includes replacing the eastern windows as well as preparing the structure for the future creation of a interior lightwell.

A shot of one of Johnson’s retro hallways.
Photo courtesy of Lee Bey