Alderman working to build public library in West Loop


Erin Brown

Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward) and the Sterling Bay Co., a real estate investment and development company, are teaming up to bring the first public library to Chicago’s West Loop near Skinner West Elementary School.

By Metro Reporter

Renovations and development have attracted many new residents to the West Loop over the past 20 years, and soon, they may be able to enjoy a public library in the neighborhood, according to Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward). 

Burnett and real estate investment and development company Sterling Bay Co. are working together to create the public library in the Fulton Market area. 

“It will be good for convenience,” he said. “Not only will it be for the West Loop, it will also be for the neighbors of River West. It will cover a lot of territory. We’re basically putting a public service in the area that previously did not have a lot of residential [areas].” 

Plans for the library are not final, Burnett said, but the project with Sterling Bay and City Hall has commitments to help with funding. 

“Once [Sterling Bay] starts to develop, then we [will] have more information,” Burnett explained.

The corner of Green and Halsted streets is the likely site for the library, close to Skinner West Elementary School and the Chicago Children’s Theatre, according to Burnett. 

Jacqui Russell, artistic director and co-founder of Chicago Children’s Theatre, said she is excited to see the plans for the new library come to life, especially because the library would be near the children’s theater. She also said that it will be a great community space for residents of the area.

“It’s going to be fantastic,” she said. “We’ve been partnering with the Chicago Public Libraries since we’ve started the company; they’re a great partner, and I think it’s a good thing for us and the whole community.” 

According to Chairman Matt Letourneau of the Development Committee for Neighbors of West Loop, the entire community is looking forward to the new neighborhood addition.

Letourneau explained that, depending on what the space becomes, it would be an ideal spot for a variety of programs that would benefit the community. 

“Our organization is excited to see things like this happening, and we have a lot of things we hope to see in the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s good to see things like this catch the imagination of the community and the attention of the alderman. We’re looking forward to seeing what it becomes.” 

Several developments in the West Loop in the past 20 years have attracted many new residents to the area, Burnett said. To accommodate them, the area requires more public services, he added. 

“The area is demanding all of the amenities that most other communities have,” Burnett said.