Vacant River North building could become migrant housing 

Former Museum of Broadcast Communications eyed as solution to growing crisis

Vacant River North Building Eyed For Migrant Housing

Alderman Brendan Reilly and the vacant building at 360 North State Street (Getty, Google Maps)

Chicago officials may be targeting a vacant River North building for a migrant housing facility, not the Hotel Chicago, as Alderman Brendan Reilly initially speculated. 

According to Reilly, Mayor Brandon Johnson and his staff are considering the former Museum of Broadcast Communications building at 360 North State Street to house thousands of migrants that have poured into the city, Crain’s reported

Reilly recently misidentified the nearby Hotel Chicago as a potential shelter site, blindsiding the owner, Pebblebrook Hotel Trust. He has now corrected this information, saying that a source within the mayor’s office “supplied the wrong address.”

Reilly claimed that a “high-ranking member of the Johnson administration” confirmed the possibility of using the North State Street property for migrant housing, which is mostly owned by a venture of Chicago-based developer Fern Hill. While no one from Johnson’s administration has confirmed their interest in the former Museum of Broadcast Communications, one of his staffers  “recently toured the space” Reilly told the outlet.

He added that the 360 North State Street building is not equipped for residential use, also citing concerns about local crime and a lack of amenities in the neighborhood.

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The confusion regarding the targeted properties reflects an ongoing, and seemingly disorganized process to accommodate the influx of migrants in Chicago. City Council members, including Reilly, have criticized the lack of their involvement on the matter, alleging that the mayor is making unauthorized agreements.

Local residents have also initiated lawsuits against Johnson and city officials, asserting that properties cannot be unilaterally converted into migrant housing without proper zoning. Administration officials cite a disaster proclamation issued by Gov. J.B. Pritzker as a basis for bypassing regular zoning rules.

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Reilly emphasized the need for transparency and a comprehensive plan to address the migrant crisis, while Mayor Johnson announced his intention to join other mayors from major U.S. cities in Washington, D.C. to advocate for increased federal investment in managing the influx of migrants.

“From day one, I’ve said that the federal government has to do more,” Johnson told reporters. “Tomorrow, I’m going to be in D.C. in solidarity with these mayors . . . and we’re going to push the federal government, just like we’re going to push the state of Illinois to do its part.”

—Quinn Donoghue