Johnson greenlights four ‘LaSalle Reimagined’ sites to build downtown residences | Trending Viral hub

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Mayor Brandon Johnson will continue his predecessor Lori Lightfoot’s program to fix up four aging Loop office buildings, offering $151.2 million in public money to help convert them into residences as the city looks for a way to repurpose the Loop’s empty offices. center.

Together, the projects would cost approximately $520 million and create 1,000 more housing units. Of those, 319 would be rented at affordable rates, if approved by various city panels.

The proposals still must be reviewed by the city’s Community Development Commission, Historic Landmarks Commission and City Council.

Two of the development teams are also in the process of applying for federal loans. If approved, the four projects could break ground early next year and open in 2027. They would include a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom units and reduce the estimated 5 million square feet of vacant space and affordable housing shortage in the middle. Currently, only 32 units on the circuit are affordable.

With the exception of one new project, Johnson’s announcement on Wednesday is almost identical to the sleepless by the Lightfoot administration in the spring, although somewhat reduced. The announcement, however, offers assurances to anxious downtown developers and councilors that city assistance is coming.

Amid a pandemic that changed work patterns and a steady migration of employers to the city’s West Loop, Lightfoot’s LaSalle Reimagined initiative aimed to put unused office space downtown for residential and retail use. It was put on hold after Lightfoot’s defeat in the 2023 election.

In an interview Tuesday with the Tribune, Johnson’s new housing and planning commissioners said this program, plus Johnson’s planned $1.25 billion economic development bond (an idea also first floated by Lightfoot administration leaders ) show the new mayor’s dedication to equity and affordability, while preserving historic history. buildings.

Johnson Planning Commissioner Ciere Boatright told the Tribune on Tuesday that the proposal is one of the largest adaptive reuse efforts to move forward within any central business district in the country and “speaks volumes to this administration’s commitment to attracting investment.” .

The winning proposals have changed slightly since last spring and include more creative funding that includes federal loans, Boatright said. In some cases, the city has reduced the tax increment financing, or TIF, dollars offered, while developers have changed the number of units they plan to offer:

  • 79 W. Monroe St.: Campari Group would redevelop eight floors of the Bell Federal Building into 117 residential units. 41 would be affordable thanks to $28 million in TIF aid. The $64.2 million project would also include restoring the “Weather Bell” sign that changes color when predicting changes in temperature. The team is seeking landmark city designation and federal historic tax credits.
  • 111 W. Monroe St.: The most expensive plan of the four, the new version of this 1911 skyscraper would take place between 14 floors in a pair of adjacent buildings. 345 rental units would be created, of which 105 would be affordable. The $202.8 million project from Prime Group Inc and Capri Investor LLC would be financed with $40 million in city tax increment financing dollars and potentially low-income housing tax credits, tax-exempt bonds, a federal loan and historic tax credits. Prime Group is also working on renovating the Thompson Center for Google’s new headquarters. If the project receives a city landmark designation, a property tax reduction “would also support a planned 228-room hotel within the complex,” according to a city statement.
  • 208 S. LaSalle St.: Prime Group is also involved in this slightly scaled-down $122.7 million project to create 226 apartment units at the original headquarters of Continental and Commercial National Bank. 68 units would be affordable. The project was initially planned to cost $130 million and provide 280 units, 84 affordable. Financing for the proposal would include the use of $26.2 million in TIF ($6.8 million less than the initial proposal) plus low-income housing tax credits, tax-exempt bonds and a federal loan.
  • 30 N. LaSalle St.: The redevelopment of this half-century-old skyscraper by Golub & Co would create 349 units, of which 105 are affordable. The original proposal included ground-floor retail, as well as green space and seating on the streets bordering the property. The city would offer $57 million in TIF, $5 million less than the original submission.

Two other proposed projects, at 135 S. LaSalle and 105 W. Adams, “continue to be evaluated” by the city’s planning and housing departments for city support.

The affordable units would be reserved for renters earning an average of 60% of the area median income, or about $53,000 for a two-person household.

The tax increment financing district surrounding the developments is among the best funded in the city. Despite concerns from local council members Brendan Reilly, 42nd, and Bill Conway, 34th, the city has budgeted a total of $320 million for LaSalle Reimagined projects in 2025 and 2026. The district is expected to collect between $170 million and $200 million in diverted funds. property tax revenue each year until due in 2030.

aquig@chicagotribune.com

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