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As Nearby Offices Extend Work-From-Home Policies, 16-Story Life Science Hub Breaks Ground In Fulton Market

Despite the global pandemic, the team behind Fulton Labs believes there is still a strong demand for laboratory space.

Fulton Labs, a towering life science hub rising at 400 N. Aberdeen St., will feature a glass and metal facade with two private balconies per floor.
ESG Architects/ Fulton Labs
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FULTON MARKET — Dallas-based developer Trammell Crow Company is gearing up to begin work on a new 16-story life sciences hub along the northern edge of Chicago’s West Loop. 

On Wednesday, the developer and Gov. JB Pritzker held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the $220 million project slated for 400 N. Aberdeen St. 

Dubbed Fulton Labs, the roughly 423,000-square-foot structure is poised to be the area’s first dedicated life science building. It will include 12 floors of lab space, a fitness center, a rooftop tenant lounge, ground-floor retail, and 170 parking stalls. 

The Aberdeen Street development is arriving on the scene as other West Loop office tenants like Google extend work-from-home policies through next summer in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Still, the team behind Fulton Labs says there remains strong demand for laboratory space. 

“We listened to the needs of the Chicago life science community when designing Fulton Labs,” Grady Hamilton of Trammell Crow said in a statement. “From startups to established global companies, we wanted to create a space that provides the flexibility and room for growth that our prospective tenants need to expand their R&D capabilities.”

Additionally, the building will house a technology incubator known as Portal Innovations to help smaller companies get off the ground and develop new medical products and treatments.

“I’ve watched countless friends and colleagues head to the coasts due to perceived lack of opportunity or infrastructure,” said Portal Innovations founder John Flavin at Wednesday’s groundbreaking. “One of the barriers to scaling our companies and our burgeoning life science ecosystem is [a lack of] programmed lab space. That’s changing today in a big way.”

Some West Loop and River West neighbors initially said they were concerned the planned 16-story facility would exacerbate the area’s existing traffic and parking problems. At a community meeting held last fall to discuss the project, Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) told residents that increased traffic in the neighborhood was a “foregone conclusion,” but he encouraged Trammell Crow to work with neighbors to reach a compromise.

The development ultimately passed the city’s Committee on Zoning but with conditions that the developer pay $250,000 for upgrades to the nearby Metra railroad crossing plus another $300,000 for a new traffic signal slated for Grand Avenue and May Street. The project includes additional streetscape improvements such as wider sidewalks.

During the zoning process, Trammell Crow also agreed to contribute $3.6 million to Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, which allows developers to build taller and denser projects in exchange for paying into the fund, which fuels economic development in underserved communities on the city’s South and West sides. 

Fulton Labs is expected to welcome its first tenants some time in 2022. 

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