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Morton Salt Shed Development Gets $2.5 Million City Loan For Infrastructure Improvements

The Salt Shed, a music and performance venue under construction at the former factory, is set to hold outdoor shows this summer.

City leaders reviewed a plan to convert the Morton Salt building near Goose Island into a concert hall and office building.
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GOOSE ISLAND — Street and traffic upgrades are coming to the area around the former Morton Salt warehouse while the building is converted into a music venue and mixed-use development.

City Council approved $2.54 million in tax increment financing Wednesday for infrastructure fixes surrounding the former factory, 1357 N. Elston Ave. The funds will be issued as a loan to developers R2 and Blue Star Properties, which will repay it at 2 percent interest over a ten-year period, or immediately if the property is sold.

Improvements include:

  • The reconstruction of Blackhawk Street north of the venue
  • The resurfacing of Magnolia Avenue between Elston Avenue and Le Moyne Street, including reconstruction of sidewalks and creation of diagonal parking spaces
  • The installation of a three-way traffic signal at Elston, Blackhawk and Magnolia
  • The installation of a traffic signal and left turn lane at North Avenue and Magnolia
  • The installation of a traffic signal and pedestrian enhancements at Elston and Division Street

Dubbed the Salt Shed, the 97,000 square-foot mixed-use development will feature a 4,000 seat venue, as well as retail and office space.

The Salt Shed will begin hosting outdoor concerts this summer, featuring bands like Fleet Foxes, Lake Street Dive and more. 16″ On Center, the hospitality group behind local venues Thalia Hall and the Empty Bottle, is operating the venue.

Department of Planning and Development Deputy Commissioner Tim Jeffries said at a Finance Committee meeting Monday the city funds will be limited to public infrastructure improvements, which will “reduce the impact of the development, mitigate congestion and improve pedestrian safety.”

Jeffries said the city believes the development was “uniquely impacted” by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the loan will allow the project to progress.

“DPD believes this structure represents an ideal way to ensure that an important project is able to move forward, while simultaneously not providing an unnecessary subsidy, or an oversubsidiy of funds, to a private development,” he said.

The roof of the former salt warehouse features an updated version of the iconic Morton Salt girl logo, visible from the nearby Kennedy Expressway.

The logo was repainted last year, but began peeling during inclement weather this winter.

That was expected, a representative for Blue Star Properties told Block Club last month. Crews used a vinyl material as a temporary measure until they could do a “much more sturdy” paint job in the spring, the representative said. The permanent sign will be completed in June.

Credit: Izzy Stroobandt/Block Club Chicago
The old Morton Salt factory at 1357 N. Elston Ave. on Goose Island. Temporary vinyl letters on the redone roof are peeling due to winter weather.

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