Mayor Johnson moving forward with LaSalle Street redevelopment 

Initiative could convert vacant office buildings to residential, other uses

Chicago Mayor Moving Forward With LaSalle Street Redevelopment
Mayor Brandon Johnson with LaSalle Street (Getty)

As interest rates settle down this year, Mayor Brandon Johnson is moving forward with a plan aimed at repurposing the mountain of vacant office space in downtown Chicago. 

Known as LaSalle Street Reimagined and initiated by former Mayor Lori Lightfoot, it came in response to a decaying office sector that’s been in shambles since the pandemic triggered the remote-work era, driving up vacancies to record highs in 11 of the last 13 quarters.

Johnson is expected to reveal details this spring about the initiative, which will target buildings along and near LaSalle Street, Bloomberg reported

“It’s taken a little bit longer to get things going, but we are working closely with those projects and doing what we can to move them forward,” said Jill Jaworski, the city’s chief financial officer. “We expect that we will see projects get announced and get off the ground in the near future.”

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Lightfoot unveiled plans in September 2022 to repurpose nearly 2.3 million square feet of vacant space. However, uncertainty loomed over the future of the initiative after Johnson took office in May.

The mayor has faced opposition from much of Chicago’s real estate community following his proposal to raise property transfer taxes on high-end deals. On the other hand, he’s working to win real estate over with strategies like streamlining the city’s development approval process and deploying grants over $1 million to six downtown restaurants. 

Quintin Primo III, founder of Capri Investment Group, said he supports the mayor’s vision of rejuvenating the LaSalle Street corridor, which includes Primo’s proposed redevelopment of 111 West Monroe Street for residential and hospitality use. 

Despite challenges posed by fluctuating interest rates and higher development costs, developers remain committed to advancing projects under LaSalle Street Reimagined, aiming to breathe new life into distressed properties and revitalize downtown.

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