Alderman Burnett to lift ban on resi development in Fulton Market

That’s sweet music for developers, who he said would in exchange make 20% of new units affordable

Ald. Walter Burnett (27th)
Ald. Walter Burnett (27th)

Alderman Walter Burnett sees things differently these days.

For years, he refused to change a policy that bans new residential projects in most of the Fulton Market District. But now, with a pandemic rocking the economy and a recession likely, Burnett is willing to play ball.

“If a developer comes to us with a proposal for residential, we’ll consider it,” the 27th Ward alderman told Crain’s. “We want to keep economic development happening in the city.”

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It’s sweet music to the ears of Chicago developers, some of whom have benefited immensely from Fulton Market’s ascended status as the coolest neighborhood in town — for corporations and restaurant-goers, anyway. In recent years, companies such as McDonald’s and Google have helped transform a once-shabby industrial corner into a mini boomtown, resulting in record building sales, and a wave of spec commercial projects.

Developers were willing to make 20 percent of residential units affordable if Burnett lifted his ban, he told Crain’s.

Burnett has long been a proponent of commercial development in the district, but has cited community opposition to apartment buildings as one reason to ban them north of Lake Street, according to Crain’s. Needing a tax base to weather the coming storm, he’s now embracing it.

Real estate companies poised to benefit include Sterling Bay, which owns several parcels on Green Street and has considered a big development of the Archer Daniels Midland wheat mill; and Shapack Properties, which recently bought a few properties north of Lake Street. [Crain’s] — James Kleimann