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Fulton Market boom poised to push westward as two big projects clear key zoning vote

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The developments call for 243 more rental units and 259 hotel rooms

A gray brick and glassy hotel with an L-shaped footprint rises above surrounding buildings at dusk.
A rendering of the 16-story Standard Hotel slated for 1234 W. Randolph Street.
NORR Architects, courtesy Chicago Department of Planning and Development

A pair of notable developments slated for Chicago’s rapidly changing Fulton Market District earned the thumbs up from city officials at Thursday’s monthly meeting of the Chicago Plan Commission. The duo will not only bring more apartments and hotel rooms to the hot neighborhood, but will also continue the westward expansion of the area’s unprecedented construction boom.

First up was a 16-story hospitality development replacing dairy facility at 1234 W. Randolph. The mixed-use building would include a 259-room Standard Hotel with a rooftop pool and bar plus ground-floor restaurant space. The plan calls for zero on-site parking spaces and will instead rely on existing valet companies—prompting some neighbors to voice objections over traffic concerns.

The project comes from co-developers DDG and Marc Realty and features a contemporary glass and brick design from NORR Architects. At a public meeting last month, the team said they hope to begin construction on Chicago’s first Standard Hotel in late spring 2020.

The Plan Commission also voted in favor of an apartment building proposed for just down the street at 1440 W. Randolph Street. Here, developer Marquette Companies plans to renovate an existing five-story office building and replace a low-slung commercial structure with an 11-story apartment block containing 243 rental units plus parking for 87 cars. Chicago-based design firm Brininstool + Lynch will serve as project architect.

The approval of 1440 W. Randolph is somewhat surprising given comments made by Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. at an August community meeting where the elected official said the developers were effectively “wasting” their money. The alderman said he would not support putting residential units across the street from Union Park, which is a popular venue of concerts and other loud events.

Members of the Plan Commission (on which Alderman Burnett also serves) echoed similar concerns regarding noise and traffic issues related to events at Union Park during Thursday’s meeting. The Chicago Park District said it was in support of the development moving forward.

Meanwhile, the Plan Commission signed-off on several notable projects in other neighborhoods. These include a new 408-stall parking garage with ground-floor clinic space at the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Lakeview as well as the rehab and expansion of the Chicago Housing Authority’s Edith Spurlock building which will bring 80 additional units of affordable housing to Lincoln Park.

One item on Thursday’s agenda, the proposed residential conversion of Humboldt Park’s long-vacant Von Humboldt Elementary School, was deferred to a later date. The move comes one day after Alderman Daniel La Spata (1st) said he would ask members of the Plan Commission to delay a vote on the project, Chicago Block Club reported. Despite Mayor Lightfoot’s public pledge to reign in Chicago’s unspoken rule of aldermanic privilege, the practice appears to still be with us.

The go-ahead from the Plan Commission is an important first step in the city’s approval process. Although most projects typically require additional approvals from the city’s Committee on Zoning and the full City Council to move forward, Thursday’s votes represent a key hurdle and serve as a reliable indicator for future development.