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Multiple waterfront towers planned for Tribune site in Chicago’s River West

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Riverside Investment plans a campus containing 1.5 million square feet of residential and office space

Riverside Investment & Development/Goettsch Partners

While Tribune Media announced a partnership with Chicago’s Riverside Investment & Development to cultivate its waterfront parcel at 700 W. Chicago Avenue back in 2015, plans for the River West site are now coming into clearer focus. The multi-phased, mixed-use strategy for the property at the northeast corner of Chicago and Halsted will see the current 115,000-square-foot Tribune building replaced with new commercial space, residences, retail, and roughly 4.5 acres of publicly accessible open space and riverwalk.

According to the project description on Riverside Investment & Development’s website, the plan calls for 1.5 million square feet of “residential and loft office” in multiple towers. With regards to design, the busy developer is once again teaming up with local architecture firm Goettsch Partners. The duo have paired up on other projects such as 150 N. Riverside, 110 N. Wacker, and the massive master redevelopment plan for Chicago’s Union Station and neighboring Amtrak real estate assets.

The 700 W. Chicago site is not to be confused with the much larger 30-acre Tribune parcel to the immediate south. Though a prime candidate for future mixed-use redevelopment in its own right, the current home of the 850,000-square-foot Freedom Center printing facility has yet to change hands or publicly land a redevelopment partner.

700 W. Chicago Avenue.
Google Street View

Both Tribune properties fall under the scope of the new North Branch Industrial Corridor zoning ordinance slated to go before the Chicago Plan Commission later this week. The proposed legislation would lift the area’s restrictive Planned Manufacturing District (PMD) designation and see one portion of the land revert to its underlying industrial zoning while the rest would change to DS-5 Downtown Service District.

Mixed-use, non-industrial development at these riverfront sites will still require the developer(s) to apply for zoning changes. Though the open space and riverwalk components will help lower the project’s overall Floor Area Ratio (FAR), density bonuses under Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity system are likely to also be sought in order to hit the targeted square footage.

While designs are being finalized and no approvals have so far been granted, the first phase of the 700 W. Chicago project is expected to feature a mid-rise building containing 435,000 square feet of office, reports the spring 2017 issue of NAIOP’s Development Magazine. The greater development could also include a hospitality component as well as an open-air market.