City blesses plans to add apartments to two Loop office buildings, boost LaSalle Street corridor

Two more projects to convert outmoded offices into residences got support from city officials Friday as part of a campaign to revitalize the La Salle Street corridor.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said it is recommending developers’ plans to renovate buildings at 105 W. Adams St. and 30 N. La Salle St. receive city subsidies.

Together, the proposals represent investments of $320 million and add around 600 housing units to the Central Loop, almost half of them affordable under city rules. The proposals join three others city officials embraced in late March.

The plans still must be reviewed by the Community Development Commission and the City Council. Subsidy agreements must still be negotiated.

“As La Salle Street continues to evolve as one of the most distinguished and storied corridors in the Midwest, these conversions reaffirm the City’s support for innovative projects and improvements that reinforce its economic vitality for all Chicagoans,” Lightfoot said in a news release.

In its “La Salle Street Reimagined” initiative, the city is offering tax-increment financing subsidies and other help for developers trying to reduce vacant space in their properties. Money would come from the cash-rich La Salle Central TIF district.

The idea is that office layouts no longer popular with tenants can be converted to residences — and that adding more downtown residents would, in turn, encourage retailers to fill empty storefronts.

“La Salle Street has long been seen as an almost exclusively business-oriented neighborhood,” said Samir Mayekar, deputy mayor for economic development. “More residents will naturally bring more small businesses and nightlife to the area and improve public safety with more foot traffic and eyes on the street throughout the Loop.”

Officials provided these summaries of the two latest projects:

• 105 W. Adams St. — Celadon Partners and Blackwood Group would replace office floors with 247 apartments, 185 of them rated affordable, at a cost of $178 million. The developers’ initial request for a TIF subsidy was $192 million.

• 30 N. La Salle St. — Golub & Co. and American Life Insurance would create 349 apartments, 105 rated affordable, at a cost pf $143 million. The plan appeared smaller than what the team proposed earlier this year, when it sought a TIF subsidy of $75 million.

The proposals did not pass muster when the city announced its three initial selections under the La Salle program.

Asked about that, a spokesman said the initial selections emphasized renovations of historic buildings. At 30 N. La Salle, the building is not historic but has drawn a viable proposal, he said, while officials sorted out two competing development teams vying for 105 W. Adams. He said the ownership has agreed to work with the Celadon-Blackwood team.

Other renovations in line for city support involve work at 135 and 208 S. La Salle and 111 W. Monroe St.

In all, the five plans call for more than 1,600 housing units in the Loop, around 600 of them affordable, and more than $870 million in private investment.

City Hall also said it is offering $5 million in small-business improvement grants to help retailers build out vacant space for cafes, grocery stores and other amenities in the Loop. Funds will be available for about 20 spaces, with grants reaching up to $300,000 per project.

Officials said a tour of vacant sites will be conducted June 7 and grant applications will be taken starting Sept. 1.

The planning and transportation departments are due to take public comments about improving the streetscape along La Salle from Wacker Drive to Jackson Boulevard.

A rendering of changes proposed for the 30 N. La Salle building, where developers would add 349 apartments.

A rendering of changes proposed for the 30 N. La Salle building.

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