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Fulton Market office tower with affordable-rate retail clears key city vote

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Affordable rent requirements aren’t just for residential units

Chicago Department of Planning and Development

More office space is on its way to Chicago’s hot Fulton Market District, but this time with a innovative twist aimed at keeping local businesses in the area. Approved Thursday by the Chicago Plan Commission, the new 13-story development will be the first building to include a city-mandated affordable retail component.

The project, slated for a parking lot at the southeast corner of Fulton Market and Ogden Avenue, will offer “at least some” of its 15,000 square feet of ground retail space below market rate, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The 315,000-square-foot office building was first proposed as an 18-story, 315-unit apartment tower. Developer Trammell Crow changed its plans once local Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. placed a memorandum on residential projects north of Lake Street. Burnett has been a vocal advocate for affordable rents for for neighborhood businesses.

The move could set a precedent for future Fulton Market developments to include an affordable option for smaller shops and restaurants to remain in the trendy (and increasingly expensive) former meatpacking district. As companies like Google and McDonald’s move in, the area has seen rents rise and a number of longtime retailers—especially restaurants like Wishbone, West Loop Salumi, Jaipur, Perez, and others—close their doors.

The new office development wasn’t the only project approved at the August meeting of the Chicago Plan Commission. The group cast votes in favor of zoning changes supporting several new projects across the city.

These include a four-story office building in Ravenswood, a recycling facility along the Calumet River, an addition to the Chicagoland Laborers’ District Council Training and Apprentice Fund building in North Austin, and the the adaptive reuse of an old industrial building at 838 W. Kinzie Avenue into a restaurant.