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20-story Fulton Market apartment high-rise gets public debut

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The 236-unit development would rise over 200-feet

A rendering of 166 N. Aberdeen as viewed from Randolph Street.

Last night, MCZ Development publicly took the wraps off of a plan to replace the Fabbri Sausage plant at 166 N. Aberdeen with a 20-story mixed-use tower. As currently proposed, the West Loop project would contain a 236-unit mix of studio, one-, and two-bedroom rental apartments plus 5,000 square feet of commercial space divided between its Aberdeen and May frontages, flanking existing retail on Randolph. The building will also fully comply with Chicago’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) and would include “at least” ten percent affordable rate units on-site.


Designed by Chicago’s Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB), 166 N. Aberdeen features a masonry base that is contextual to the neighborhood. As the tower climbs, the massing steps back from property lines and becomes more modern and interesting as materials transition from brick to glass and warm, “clay colored” metal panels. Consisting of two interlocking, slightly angled and offset volumes, the upper levels of the building form a zig-zag cut-out featuring a communal east-facing “sky lounge” for residents. The space supplements a lower amenity level on the structure’s western side.

166 N. Aberdeen is a transit-oriented development (TOD) and is proposed with 84 parking spaces on its first two floors, screened entirely behind active use at street level. While the parking count may seem skimpy for 236 dwellings, the development team is confident the project is adequately parked given the Morgan CTA stop two blocks to the east. If the building’s parking demands do rise unexpectedly, spaces will be made available across the street at the upcoming 171 N. Aberdeen development. Also from MCZ, the combination office/apartment project will feature roughly 140 garage spots.

The 166 N. Aberdeen project would be part of an amended existing Plan Development known as PD 1283. Surprisingly, the proposal is only seeking a zoning change to a relatively moderate DX-5 designation and therefore falls just short of contributing to Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund. Adopted last year and utilized by a number of recent proposals in the West Loop, the revised bonus system allows developers to essentially “buy” additional density for their projects from the city.

SCB’s Vladimir Andrejevic presents a cutaway elevation diagram of 166 N. Aberdeen. Note the landscaped “sky lounge” on level 13.
Jay Koziarz

As far as timelines are concerned, the project is still in its infancy. So far MCZ has yet to file a zoning application with the City of Chicago and Alderman Walter Burnett Jr (27th) and the West Loop’s numerous neighborhood groups have not officially taken a position on the project. As things stand now, the Fabbri Sausage company has four years left on its current lease. The developers did not rule out the possibility of buying-out Fabbri at an earlier date. MCZ’s Todd Mullen estimates a roughly 18-month construction period from permits to completion.

While far from the most contentious West Loop community development meeting in recent months, a number of neighbors in attendance did take issue with the project’s 217-foot height and expressed concerns that such a building could set a precedent for future high-rises in the area. Others called for a wait-and-see approach given the Planning Department’s West Loop Design Guidelines are still in the process of being finalized.

“It’s going to have to come back before the community after they [MCZ] meet with the community organizations and talk to the buildings next door,” explained Alderman Burnett to his constituents. “Nothing is etched in stone and we’re all going to work on it together.”