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How a public-private partnership will bring a new office tower and firehouse to River North

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The long-discussed project is preparing to break ground in 2020

A rendering of “Rivere.”
Friedman Properties/Goettsch Partners

The Engine Co. 42 firehouse at the southwest corner of Illinois and Dearborn streets in River North will soon bite the dust for a new fire station topped by a 30-story office building, under a unique public-private partnership between the city of Chicago and developer Friedman Properties.

First revealed in 2017 and approved by the city in late 2018, the redesigned tower from Chicago architecture firm Goettsch Partners is expected to break ground later this year at 450 N. Dearborn and open in 2023. The plan involves completing a new three-story station just west of the existing Engine Co. 42 firehouse and then demolishing the older brutalist facility to construct the new office tower in its place.

“This is a unique development proposal, unlike any other that I have worked on before,” said Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd) at a community presentation in 2018. “The public benefit here would be a brand new firehouse for the neighborhood, something the Chicago Fire Department has been seeking for many years now.”

The glassy high-rise would contain 620,000 square feet of office, more than 50,000 square feet of retail or restaurant space, and tenant amenities including a fitness center, meditation room, multiple outdoor terraces, and an underground parking garage.

The new building is known as Rivere which is a reference to a hotel that once operated nearby, reports Crain’s. The developer is also looking into transforming the alleyways behind the project into a pedestrian-friendly promenade or “mews,” according to the publication.

The existing Engine Co. 42 firehouse at 55 W. Illinois Street would be demolished under the plan.
Jay Koziarz