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.”
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