South State Street slated for major $141 million redevelopment plan
August 4, 2017

By Madeline Makoul

A row of long vacant South State Street buildings will undergo redevelopment to create new residential and retail space.

A Chicago developer is set to purchase a row of long vacant South State Street buildings that will undergo a $141 million redevelopment, creating new residential and retail space.

CA Ventures submitted a $10.38 million proposal to acquire 202, 212, 214, and 220 S. State St. from the federal government, according to the Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) bought the properties on the west side of State Street in 2007, with an aim to consolidate federal agencies there. Due in part to difficulties acquiring funding for these historic structures, the GSA’s plan never materialized, and officials instead sought to sell the four properties.

According to the deputy commissioner for communication and outreach at the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Peter Strazzabosco, CA Ventures acquired the buildings as part of a three-way transaction with the City of Chicago and GSA. Officials expect to complete the sale this summer, Strazzabosco said.

“CA Ventures is committed to returning active uses to this now vacant portion of the South State Street block by the adaptive re-use of these historic highrise buildings,” JJ Smith, principal at CA Ventures, said. “The State Street streetwall and pedestrian experience will be reactivated in this endeavor, which will enhance the vitality of the neighborhood context through programmed uses for the public and residents.”

Key redevelopment elements will include converting the 22-story 220 S. State St. building to 270 micro apartments; rehabilitating and expanding the 202 S. State St. building as 159 furnished one-bedroom and studio apartments; demolishing the 212 S. State St. building, the only non-historic building of the four, on a lot where workers will build a connected addition to the 202 S. State St. structure; and new construction at the 214 S. State St. building that maintains its historic features.

“The 202 S. State St. building has a shallow depth and will receive an addition that takes advantage of the existing building’s vertical circulation core,” Smith said. “This addition will be a new construction component at the location of the non-historic 212 S. State St. building.”

Rehabilitating the four buildings will create more than 400 apartments, with the first two levels of all the structures serving as lobbies and retail space, Smith said.

While the timetable for the project is not yet set, Smith said the team plans to finish the project by early 2020. According to Strazzabosco, Smith will team with Keith Giles LLC and Joe Slezak for the redevelopment as well as an architect, Antunovich Associates.

“We look forward to finalizing the terms of the sale later this summer and for the rebirth of this historic portion of State Street to start shortly afterwards,” Strazzabosco said.

Historical significance

Both 202 and 220 S. State St. are historically significant Chicago buildings with distinct architectural details from the time they were built.

The Consumers Building at 220 S. State St., designed by the Chicago architecture firm Mundie & Jenson in 1913, is “Chicago School style with classical revival terracotta details,” Smith said. On the other hand, the Century Building at 202 S. State St. was designed in a “commercial style with neo-Manueline-style terracotta,” according to Smith.

Though the Chicago firm Holabird & Roche built 202 S. State in 1915, it underwent a renovation in 1951 that added more character to the design. “There was a significant renovation to the first two floors of the base in 1951 [which] is most visible at the exterior curbing glass and metal storefront at the corner of State and Adams Streets,” Smith said.

While it may pose a challenge to maintain these buildings’ history, their preservation adds a lot to the neighborhood, said Adam Lund, president of Friends of Downtown. Lund credited the structures’ historic features as their main attraction, although they require a much needed “facelift.”

Lund called the buildings “beautiful,” saying, “There’s only a small handful of these buildings left.” The 220 S. State St. building offers a “great example of an early Chicago School skyscraper,” Lund said.

CA Ventures has experience with historic buildings from past projects, including a historic preservation effort at the Arc at Old Colony at 37 W. Van Buren St., Smith said. With this project, CA Ventures transformed the historic office building into student housing.

For the upcoming project on South State Street, CA Ventures, in partnership with Keith Giles LLC, is confirming preservation details with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency in Springfield as well as the City’s Planning, Design & Historic Preservation Division.

Jobs and affordable housing  

According to Smith, the project will create 200 to 250 part-time construction positions. When the renovation concludes, project leaders expect the retail and management staff needs will generate 100 full-time jobs.

CA Ventures and Keith Giles LLC plan to surpass the City’s requirement for 50% City of Chicago resident participation, 26% minority business enterprise (MBE) and 6% women’s business enterprise (WBE) participation. CA Ventures expects to use UJAMAA Construction, an MBE a well as a disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE), which will work with McHugh Construction as the general contractor team.

“Taking a proactive approach to providing opportunities for minorities and women is an essential element with any project, and the project team will establish and implement a results-oriented program to achieve MBE and WBE goals,” Smith said.

Furthermore, according to the Mayor’s office, the project will include a $5.65 million payment to the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund as well as a $4.38 million payment to the Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus.

“The development team will be contributing to the Affordable Housing Fund and Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus assuming our planned development goals are met through the approval process with the City of Chicago,” Smith said. “The unit mix will also include affordable housing units per the City of Chicago planned development requirements.”

Martha Frish Okabe, the treasurer at Friends of Downtown, said continuing to create affordable housing in Chicago through payments to the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund remains important.

“Anything that we can do to finance affordable housing is something we ought to do as a society and as a city,” Okabe said.

Revitalizing the community

After years of the buildings sitting empty on South State, Okabe believes the new plan for them will increase street activity, breathing new life into an area that continues to grow.

“The Loop is effectively the biggest college campus in the world, and not only that, but there’s been a huge number of people moving in not because they are associated with a college but because it’s becoming a really nice place to live,” Okabe said. “That includes empty nesters, young singles, and young families.”

The increase in residents and foot traffic will benefit the City as well. Once the federal government officially transfers the buildings to CA Ventures, they will be back on City tax rolls, Smith said. The economic development and improvement they bring also will improve the area’s safety, Lund said.

While the benefits are clear, both Lund and Okabe hope CA Ventures and their partners will ensure community involvement.

“We would really like to see a lot of transparency and some neighborhood contact, reaching out to businesses, residents [and] schools, trying to really engage the people that it will mostly effect in that area,” Lund said. “That’s what we [Friends of Downtown] advocate for and what we believe leads to the strongest urban fabric that you can have.”