Developer acquires 62 acres of vacant land in Chicago

Related Midwest will turn the strip that connects the South Loop to Chinatown into a neighborhood with homes, stores, and offices.

May 23, 2016 |

Related Midwest will transform 62 acres of undeveloped land, as pictured here in 2005, into an area containing thousands of homes and millions of square feet of office and retail space. Photo: Payton Chung/Creative Commons

As urban sprawl continues to chew up the Chicagoland area, it’s odd that a little swath of land just outside the city’s downtown has remained vacant for decades.

A green space that was once railroad land has been snatched up by developers. The Chicago Tribune reports that Related Midwest, a developer of luxury condos, mixed-use, and master-planned projects, now controls 62 acres that connect Chicago’s South Loop to its Chinatown.

Related Midwest, which developed Hudson Yards in Manhattan and counts Chicago's 500 Lake Shore Drive, One Bennett Park, and OneEleven as its properties, will lead a multibillion-dollar joint venture that will bring thousands of homes and millions of square feet of office space and stores. Located next to the Chicago River, the site might even have its own Riverwalk. 

Other ideas pitched include a CTA station (light rail service), a Metra stop (commuter train service), and a high school. Chicago’s Wells Street will also extend through the area. The street currently ends at Roosevelt Road, at the site’s northern border.

"It's been this missing link, a hole in the center of Chicago," Phil Enquist, who leads SOM’s global city design practice and has advised Related Midwest and others over the years about the site, said to the Tribune. "I think it's a very positive story — this allows us to rethink a long stretch of the Chicago River."

Related Midwest has not yet formed a detailed plan for the site. The city will also have to rezone the land and allow for residential use.

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