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River North fire station to be rebuilt, joined by new mixed-use skyscraper

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The newly announced venture would be a partnership between the City of Chicago and Friedman Properties

City of Chicago

The City of Chicago took the wraps off of a proposal to replace River North’s Engine Co. 42 fire house at the southwest corner of Illinois and Dearborn with a new state-of-the-art facility topped by a new mixed-use high-rise. Much like the city’s plan to combine public libraries with affordable housing in new developments slated for Chicago’s West Ridge, Little Italy, and Irving Park neighborhoods, the River North plan would be a partnership that brings together both civic and private interests.

A conceptual (and poorly scanned) rendering from the MOU drafted by the city and Friedman.
City of Chicago/DLR Group

As proposed, the existing fire house at 55 W. Illinois Street would be replaced with a $20.2 million station financed by local developer Friedman Properties. When completed, the old structure would be demolished and replaced by up to 614,000 square feet of office and mixed-use space in a new tower designed by Chicago architecture firm DLR Group.

While a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Friedman and the City of Chicago shows a grainy image of the glassy skyscraper, it’s been communicated that the building’s final design is still being refined. The city is also entertaining alternative bids from other potential development partners for a 30-day period from the time the terms of the Friedman deal are posted online.

As it stands now, Friedman would pay the city $5 million to acquire the current firehouse site and an adjacent alley to build the tower. The parcel is currently zoned DX-7 Downtown Mixed-Use and could see the developer pay as much as $10 million into Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus system for additional zoning rights. Under that system, the funds would then be redistributed to projects in areas of the city that currently see little investment.

So far no approvals for the project have been granted and it will need to go through the traditional channels such as community outreach meetings and a trip before the Chicago Plan Commission and City Council. According to an official release, the city expects to receive roughly $4.4 million in new annual real estate taxes from the development.

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