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Renderings show rumored office tower to replace parking lot at LaSalle and Illinois

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New images suggest that a glassy high-rise could be in the works for the River North corner

With River North in the midst of a major construction boom, it is little surprise that many of the downtown neighborhood’s surface parking lots are being put to higher and better uses. Based on a pair of mysterious renderings appearing on the discussion forum at, the prime lot at the southwest corner of Illinois and LaSalle may be the future recipient of a glassy high-rise office development.

Though the images are unattributed, such a project could potentially come from developer Porritt Group who is pursuing an 18-story hotel development for the parking lot to the immediate south. At last summer’s community meeting, Jake Porritt said that his firm was exploring what it would take to redevelop the northern parcel but was not prepared to announce anything specific. Since landing city approvals, a dispute over a sub-lease agreement to develop the land has reportedly put the hotel project on hold.

As for the rumored office building, the blue/green glass design appears to wrap around the historic low-rise structure at 444 N. LaSalle. Previously home to the shuttered English bar, the vacant terracotta-clad building is landmarked by the City of Chicago and therefore must remain in place. While no architect is attached to the new images, some clues suggest that Chicago-based Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) is involved.

Though the corner in question currently holds the fairly dense DX-7 Downtown Mixed Use zoning designation, a project of this size would likely involve the approval of a Planned Development (PD). That process involves public engagement, community meetings, and ultimately the support of the local alderman. With Ald. Brendan Reilly’s recent denial of two River North proposals—a 60-story tower at Wabash and Superior and a 15-story expansion of the Dana Hotel—approval is hardly a forgone conclusion.

Illinois & LaSalle.
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