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Morton Salt Building Could Receive Landmark Status This Week Before Becoming Music Venue

Morton Salt’s Elston Avenue operations began in the late 1920s and ceased in 2015. Developers want protections for the building and keep the sign and other features when it's transformed into an office building and music venue.

City leaders reviewed a plan to convert the Morton Salt building near Goose Island into a concert hall and office building.
Chicago Department of Planning and Development / Provided
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GOOSE ISLAND — The old Morton Salt plant on Goose Island will be reviewed for landmark status this week before it’s converted into a concert hall and office building.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks will consider the developers’ application to secure protected status for the building and surrounding properties along 1305-1357 N. Elston Ave and 1213-1251 W. Blackhawk St. at its Thursday meeting, which will be livestreamed.

Morton Salt’s Elston Avenue operations began in the late 1920s and ceased in 2015. In December 2017, the company sold its property to its current owner for redevelopment, according to the company’s website.

Before the city’s Plan Commission approved redevelopment plans last month, the developers signed a letter of intent to landmark the site, as they’re keeping the Morton Salt building’s brick facade and sign that faces the Kennedy Expressway.

RELATED: Plan To Transform Morton Salt Building Into Riverfront Music Venue, Office Space Gets Early Approval

Credit: Chicago Department of Planning and Development / Provided
City leaders reviewed a plan to convert the Morton Salt building near Goose Island into a concert hall and office building.

Co-developed by Blue Star Properties, the development arm of music venue group 16 on Center, and R2, a Chicago-based commercial developer, the $30 million project would create 200 construction jobs and about 50 permanent jobs and will generate $4.5 million in annual tax revenues, according to plans submitted to the city.

16 on Center owns Empty Bottle, Thalia Hall, Beauty Bar and several other Chicago venues. R2’s portfolio includes several recent developments along the riverfront, including Goose Island’s 1315 North Branch and the sprawling REI flagship building, 905 W. Eastman St. 

View the redevelopment proposal here.

Credit: Chicago Department of Planning and Development / Provided
City leaders reviewed a plan to convert the Morton Salt building near Goose Island into a concert hall and office building.

Landmark status protects a building from demolition and requires approval for any design changes or work permits.

Preservation Chicago has advocated for the landmarking of historical industrial sites in addition to residential buildings. Not all have been saved, however.

A Prairie School industrial building once stood at 1404 W. Wabansia Ave., near the Morton Salt building along the North Branch of the Chicago River. Built in 1919, the building was demolished in 2018.

Members of the public can submit written comments for the meeting by emailing ccl@cityofchicago.org before 12:45 p.m. Wednesday. 

People wishing to speak during the virtual meeting must complete an online form. The form, which can be found here, must be emailed to ccl@cityofchicago.org before 12:45 p.m. Tuesday. There are only 15 slots available and speakers will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis.

The project still requires final approval from City Council.

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