New housing proposals build excitement in South Loop


Santiago Covarrubias

Residents in the South Loop mixed and mingled with developers who are bringing new buildings to the neighborhood. 


Four new multi-use projects that  have been proposed for the South Loop were the subject of much discussion and debate by neighborhood residents at an event hosted by The Greater South Loop Association Nov. 2 at Vice District Brewing, 1454 S.

Michigan Ave. 

Both developers and architects were on hand to answer questions, according to Deborah Soehlig, president of the Greater South Loop Association. 

The neighborhood association also distributed surveys for residents to share their thoughts about the four new developments, Soehlig said. 

The four projects  call for  condo towers and other structures at 1200 S. Indiana Ave., 1326 S. Michigan Ave., 800 S. Michigan Ave. and 1136 S. Wabash Ave., according to Josh Ellis, board member of the Greater South Loop Association.

“If there are concerns or suggestions about the new developments, I hope people share that and we can pass it on to the developers and the alderman,” Ellis said.

According to Ellis, 50–60 residents attended the open house. The survey results will be released  at the next State of the South Loop meeting on Nov. 21 at Overflow Coffee, 1550 S. State St. 

Aaron Galvin, a managing broker and owner at Luxury Living Chicago Realty, said many residents are concerned about the traffic the new developments would bring to the neighborhood. He also said the properties must be at a  realistic price  for the South Loop.

“The downside is that traffic becomes a little bit challenging; parking starts to a go away a little bit, but in the long run the change that is going to happen in the South Loop will be tremendously beneficial,” Galvin said.

Edward Curley, an architect for Rafael Vinoly Architects, works with Crescent Heights, a luxury condominium developer that owns the 1200 S. Indiana Ave. site. He said the tower will include 76 units, with a mix of studios and one-to three-bedroom apartments.

“It’s a beautiful, iconic structure to the south end of Grant Park,” Curley said.

Jessica Leo, an architect at Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture,  works on the 800 S. Michigan Ave. project—currently the site of the Essex Inn—to redesign the hotel and combine it with adjacent residential housing.

“The parking lot at this location will be torn down and turned into a residential tower,”  Leo said. “The hotel will be renovated to offer a smaller quantity of rooms with upscale quality.”

This location will offer  amenities  like restaurants, pools, ballrooms, bars and a fitness center.

“We want to bring an increase[d] vitality to the Essex Inn and the South Loop,” Leo said.

Kristen Stanziale has been a South Loop resident for almost 12 years and works as a project manager for a liquor company. One of Stanziale’s concerns about the new developments is that it could potentially detract from small local businesses in the neighborhood.

“We could lose the opportunity to have things that are small and local, so from corner to corner, it could end up being a Jamba Juice and a Gap, and that would be horrific,” Stanziale said.

Tim Shields is a representative of Murphy Asset Management, a development company working on the property at 1326 S.

Michigan Ave. 

According to Shields, this location will  become  a  500-unit apartment tower.  Shields said 60 percent of the building will become one-bedroom apartments, and about 20 percent will be two-bedroom apartments.

“It’s really geared toward smaller units, and hopefully a more affordable retail price point for this neighborhood,” Shields said.

Rent will be approximately  $1,800 to $3,000 a month, according to Shields. 

Overall, attendees at the event were optimistic and curious  about the new developments coming to the neighborhood.

Ellen Lorden, a South Loop resident, said she is excited about the new developments but wants the developers to keep families in mind while proposing projects.

“I would love [to live in] a neighborhood that supports young children, old people and everyone in between,” Lorden said.

Keith Giles, a developer for 1136 S. Wabash Ave., said the project will offer 320 units. 

According to Giles, the units will consist of  micro-apartments at 500 square feet for about $2,000 a month. Giles said residents could expect to see the completed project by the end of 2017.

The four projects would be completed within the next three years, Galvin said.

Matthew Young, a commercial real estate worker, said he spends his free time in the South Loop and has heard many concerns about the traffic the new development

could bring to the area. 

However, he said he does not think it will be a huge problem.

“If you’re concerned about whether you can get home [in] 15 minutes, you probably should not be living in the South Loop-. You should move to the suburbs where you don’t have worry about high rise buildings,” Young said.