Onni buys Goose Island site near casino site for $45M

Developer is among firms seeking to profit from project

Onni Group’s Duncan Wlodarczak with 700 West Chicago Avenue (LinkedIn, Google Maps, iStock)
Onni Group’s Duncan Wlodarczak with 700 West Chicago Avenue (LinkedIn, Google Maps, iStock)

Onni Group paid $45 million for a site at 700 West Chicago Ave. as it seeks to profit from land near the location of Chicago’s first casino.

The Vancouver, Canada-based firm completed the deal last month to buy the seven-acre property from a venture of Nexstar Media Group and Riverside Investment & Development.
While Onni hasn’t revealed its plans, people familiar with the project have said it’s likely to be residential. The site could accommodate as much as 1,000 apartments on 1.5 million square feet.

The building on the site was once owned by Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Media. In 2018, Riverside and Tribune Media, which has since been bought by Dallas’ Nexstar, won City Council approval to demolish the vacant 115,00-square-foot building and build a four-tower office and residential complex. The companies gave up on those plans in April of last year after the pandemic crushed demand for office space.

Onni’s property is a former Tribune advertising insertion plant that closed in 2012. At one point, Bally’s planned to use the site as a temporary casino while building its permanent one. The group now plans to instead use the Medinah Temple at 600 North Wabash Avenue in River North.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in May that Bally’s bid had been accepted to build a $1.7 billion casino, which will include an entertainment center and hotel, at the 30-acre site just south of the old Tribune building in River West.

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Chicago developer Shapack Partners has also purchased property near the new casino site. A venture controlled by the firm bought the Salvation Army’s downtown River West campus for $25 million in May. The developer also plans to build a 1,110-unit apartment building and a hotel near the site.

Bally’s also has the option to buy the 30-acre printing plant site from Nexstar for an undisclosed amount.

Onni is responsible for the Halstead Point development on Goose Island, a project at the site of a former Greyhound bus maintenance facility at 901 North Halstead St. It will include a 300-room hotel and 1,400 parking spaces as well as Goose Island’s first apartments.

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