Here are Chicago’s 10 biggest new projects proposed in 2018

As expected, Related Midwest’s The 78 and Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards mega-developments lead the list

From top left, clockwise: A rendering of the Union Station redevelopment and John O’Donnell, Onni Group President Rossano de Cotiis, A rendering of The 78, and A rendering of the Habitat Company’s planned West Side mixed-use complex (Credit: Twitter)
From top left, clockwise: A rendering of the Union Station redevelopment and John O’Donnell, Onni Group President Rossano de Cotiis, A rendering of The 78, and A rendering of the Habitat Company’s planned West Side mixed-use complex (Credit: Twitter)

Proposals for several new mega-developments were among the most talked-about stories in Chicago real estate in 2018.

Several developers either submitted plans or continued work on projects that could reshape neighborhoods — and the skyline — when they’re finally completed.

Two of the developments — The 78 and Lincoln Yards — lead the list of the 10 biggest projects proposed this year. Combined they account for more than 25 million square feet of new development, more than the eight other projects on the list combined.

The list is made up entirely of projects in Chicago. And while some city officials have been criticized for prioritizing downtown’s development over neighborhood investment, only three of the 10 projects on the list — The 78, Union Station and 444 North Dearborn — are Downtown.

Some of the projects could bring radical changes to the neighborhoods where they’re proposed, and not everyone agrees whether that’s for the better.

Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards proposal — the second biggest project of the year — is slowly winding through an approval process that’s highlighted concerns over traffic, density, displacement of neighborhood businesses and the use of tax-increment financing.

Onni Group’s third phase of its years-long redevelopment of Atrium Village in Old Town divided the city’s Plan Commission, with neighbors saying the developer has not lived up to its affordable housing pledge.

The Real Deal compiled this list using developments that sought zoning reclassifications in 2018. Only ground-up new construction projects were considered. The projects were then ranked by the proposed square footage included in their rezoning requests.

1. The 78 | 13 million square feet

Related Midwest’s $7 billion, neighborhood-sized development could include 13 million square feet of office, hotel and residential space, with as many as 10,000 resi units planned. The Chicago developer won its first city approval for the 62-acre project in November, and infrastructure improvements — a new north-south street through the site, reworked Metra tracks and eventually a new CTA Red Line stop — could begin within the next couple months.

2. Lincoln Yards | 12.4 million square feet

Plans for Sterling Bay’s $6 billion redevelopment along the North Branch of the Chicago River could include 12.4 million square feet of residential, office and recreational space, including a 20,000 seat soccer stadium and other entertainment venues. Alderman Brian Hopkins (2nd) has slowed the approval process for the development as the city considers spending $700 million on infrastructure improvements, including a pair of new bridges over the river and a “transitway” connecting the site to Downtown.

3. Pullman redevelopment | 9.2 million square feet

Nonprofit developer Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives won approval for its 9.2 million-square-foot mixed-use development on the Southeast Side, which includes plans for 1.75 million square feet of new industrial space and up to 700 residences. CNI is partnering with Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies on the project, which could bring thousands of jobs to the area, according to the Chicago Tribune.

4. Union Station redevelopment | 3 million square feet

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The redevelopment of Union Station by Riverside Investment & Development and Convexity is headlined by a planned 1.5-million-square-foot office building on the site of an existing parking garage. But the development team also is planning to overhaul the historic train depot, including the addition of 175,000 square feet of office and retail space as well as 400 hotel rooms. The developers won approval for the plans after nixing a seven-story addition atop the station that did not sit well with neighbors or city officials.

5. ComEd Chicago North Headquarters | 2.9 million square feet

Electricity utility ComEd is demolishing its existing offices and warehouse complex in Avondale and will replace it with a three-story building set to include 120,000 square feet of office space and an 80,000 square-foot warehouse. The $57.5 million project also will include a 10,000-square-foot public “STEM education center” and a 1,200-space parking garage.

6. Old Town Park Phase 3 | 1.9 million square feet

Onni Group is seeking the city’s approval for the third of three planned luxury apartment towers on the site of the former Atrium Village affordable housing complex. The first phase already delivered a 405-unit towe, and phase two’s 428-unit tower just received a construction loan. But the third phase is not going as smoothly. The Chicago Plan Commission withheld its recommendation for approval for the 41-story, 456-unit tower after opponents raised concerns about the developer’s pledge to include affordable units. Neighbors are mad Onni agreed to include 300 affordable units, but more than 200 of those are going into a rehabbed mid-rise from the 1970s, and not in one of the three new luxury towers.

7. Rush University Medical Center Outpatient Facility | 1.5 million square feet

Rush University Medical Center got the green light in September to build a new outpatient complex next to its existing campus in the Illinois Medical District. Plans call for an 11-story building, a six-story parking garage and a skybridge over Ashland Avenue connecting the new building to the existing campus. The new facility will mostly serve cancer and neurology patients and could be completed by 2022.

8. Ogden Commons | 1.1 million square feet

The Habitat Company, Sinai Health Systems, Cinespace Film Studios and the Chicago Housing Authority are teaming up for this redevelopment of a former public housing site. Plans call for six residential buildings totaling 332 apartments and a three-story office building with ground-floor retail. About 80 percent of the units will be affordable. The project received initial approval in November.

9. Robeson High School redevelopment | 927,000 square feet

In May, Chicago Public Schools received approval to begin work on a $85 million school in Englewood. It is being built on the existing campus of Robeson High School, one of four area schools being phased out in favor of the new, centralized facility. CPS said the school should be ready to accept its first freshman class in fall 2019.

10. 444 North Dearborn Street | 808,000 square feet

Friedman Properties is building a 29-story office tower in River North that will have a fire station on the ground floor. The Chicago developer will rebuild the existing fire station and then begin work on the 600,000-square-foot office tower that will wrap around it. Friedman bought the property from the city for $5 million and won approval for the project in October.

The top 10 Chicago projects filed in 2018

NAME234 East 70th StreetPRICE RANGEFrom $1,930,000 to $2,550,000
ADDRESS234 East 70th StreetSIZE RANGEFrom 1,471 Sq Ft to 1,977 Sq Ft
TYPENew BuildingAVG PPSF$1,314
BROKERCorconran GroupFINISHED BY2014