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A look at the South Loop construction boom

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Thousands of apartment units and hotel rooms are on the way to Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood

Harry Carmichael

Construction crews are busy adding several major new projects to the South Loop area which will not only reshape the neighborhood’s skyline, but will deliver thousands of new apartment units and hotel rooms to the area. The upcoming entertainment district at McCormick Place is finally taking shape as the 39-story Mariott Marquis hotel is clad in glass and the new Wintrust Arena starts filling out.

However, the most dramatic project underway in the South Loop is the 792-unit One Grant Park which will exceed the 800-foot mark. The tower’s design, which resembles the bumbled tube style of the Willis Tower, comes from star architect Rafael Viñoly. Some skyscraper watchers suggest that the structural pinnacle could eventually reach as high 892 feet.

Construction activity doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon either as the area has at least one more major project that has yet to line up permits and financing. Here’s a quick look at the bigger projects underway in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood.

↑ Essex on the Park

Construction crews are starting on the foundation of what will eventually become a 56-story tower along Michigan Avenue. The project will see the old Essex Inn overhauled and expanded from 254 to 271 guest rooms while a glassy 479-unit apartment tower designed by Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture will be built next door.

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↑ Marriott Marquis Chicago

The under-construction Marriott Marquis will become the flagship hotel at McCormick Place’s new entertainment district when it is completed this year. The 39-story hotel will feature a large ground floor restaurant/food court and a pair of 25,000-square-foot ballrooms for a total of 90,000 square feet of meeting space. Gensler and Anderson/Miller served as the project’s lead designers while the design-build team is led by Clark Construction in collaboration with Goettsch Partners and Simeone Deary Design Group.

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↑ Wintrust Arena

Expected to open this fall, the ravioli-shaped stadium and convention space comes from star architect César Pelli’s firm of Pelli Clarke Pelli. The new facility, which will make room for over 10,000 attendees, will become the permanent home of DePaul University’s athletic program. The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority-backed project was granted $55 million in controversial Tax Increment Financing (TIF) from the City of Chicago.

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↑ 123 E. Cermak

The 22-story hotel and retail development at 123 E. Cermak will add to McCormick’s new entertainment district, bolstering retail and lodging offerings for business travelers and convention goers. The yet-to-be-named development will feature a trio of hotels with a total of 466 guest rooms, while the sizable retail component includes a two-story structure occupying the site’s western portion. The project’s design comes from Antunovich Associates and will feature no parking spaces.

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↑ 1101 S. Wabash

Developed by Hinsdale-based S.B. Yen Management Group with a design from local architect Lothan Van Hook DeStefano, the upcoming hotel tower will feature a 196-room Homewood Hilton, a separate 85-room extended stay component, 3,500 square feet of ground floor retail, and garage parking for 57 vehicles. Because the project is being built as-of-right (with no changes to the site’s underlying zoning), the tower has moved forward relatively quietly under the public radar.

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Harry Carmichael

↑ 1136 S. Wabash

A new 26-story glassy high-rise is on its way to replacing what was previously a surface parking lot at 1136 S. Wabash Avenue near the the Roosevelt Red Line station. The project comes from a joint venture between CA Residential and developer Keith Giles and will deliver 320 rental apartments and 5,000 square feet of ground level commercial space. Chicago’s SCB was tapped to lead the tower’s design duties.

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↑ 1200 S. Indiana

Dubbed One Grant Park, the new 800-plus-footer is a dramatic high-rise that will rule the southern edge of Chicago’s iconic skyline. Designed by notable Uruguay-born architect Rafael Viñoly for Florida-based developer Crescent Heights, the 792-unit rental tower utilizes the bundle-tube design that made Chicago’s Willis (fka Sears) Tower possible.

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↑ 1326 S. Michigan

Unofficially known as “SoMi,” this new 500-unit rental tower project comes from Chicago-based Murphy Development Group and California’s CIM Group—the LA-based firm behind Chicago’s Block 37 apartment tower and new owner of Tribune Tower. Designed by local firm SCB, the 47-story 1326 S. Michigan will feature a distinct glassy facade with chamfered corners.

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↑ 1411 S. Michigan

Though not expected to make a major dent in Chicago’s skyline, the upcoming 15-story mixed-use development headed to 1411 S. Michigan Avenue will deliver 199 rental units ranging in size from studio to three-bedroom and over 40,000 square feet of commercial space to Chicago’s South Loop. 1411 S. Michigan will also feature interior parking for 141 vehicles and tenant amenities such as a sauna, yoga studio, basketball court, dog run, and outdoor swimming pool.

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Essex Inn

800 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605