GOOSE ISLAND — A city commission has signed off on landmarking the iconic and historic sign on the Morton Salt building.
The Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted unanimously Thursday to offer landmark designation to the old factory. In February, City Council approved a zoning change needed to convert the factory, 1357 N. Elston Ave., into office space and a music venue. The landmarks commission approved preliminary protected status for the building and surrounding properties that same month.
The landmark designation now needs to be reviewed by the city’s zoning committee and the full City Council to be finalized.
“This looks like a great project,” Commissioner Ernest Wong said following the vote.
Mary Lu Seidel, of Preservation Chicago, praised the developers’ commitment to reusing a historical structure as opposed to tearing it down.
“It is really encouraging to have a developer like this come in and create a phenomenal asset … We encourage future developers to model this behavior,” she said.
Co-developed by Blue Star Properties, the development arm of 16 on Center, and R2, a Chicago-based commercial developer, the $30 million project is expected to create 200 construction jobs and about 50 permanent jobs. It 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 other Chicago venues. R2’s portfolio includes recent developments along the riverfront, including Goose Island’s 1315 North Branch and the sprawling REI flagship building, 905 W. Eastman St.
The developers sought landmark status for the old salt factory as they planned to keep the factory’s iconic sign, which shows a girl in a yellow rain jacket holding an umbrella.
Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), has said he was happy the project would retain the sign, which “most of us have known for all of our lives.”
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