Replacement roofing can now be seen taking place atop the main shed at West Town’s former Morton Salt Warehouse. This replacement serves as the first key step in a larger adaptive re-use project, which will transform the former facility into a new entertainment and office venue. Located at 1357 N Elston Avenue, the factory was originally completed in 1930, where it long served as the central production and manufacturing hub for the salt company. In 2017, R2 Companies purchased the aging complex from Morton Salt, while partnering with Blue Star Star Properties and Skydeck (a subsidiary of The Michael Polsky Family Office in Chicago) in the process.
The programming will be anchored by a new music and event venue, situated within the main shed. There will also be 20,000 square feet of office space in the former packaging buildings, which will be anchored by Morton Salt’s research and development department. Lastly, the former garage section will house a food and beverage stand.
Lamar Johnson Collaborative is the firm behind the adaptive re-use design. Given that the factory received landmark status this past summer, the overall massing and masonry materials will largely stay the same. Notable exceptions include the removal of the east shed due to disrepair, as well as the roof replacement for the west shed due to the presence of asbestos. The new roof will display Morton Salt’s updated logo, and will be corrugated to reflect its predecessor. The shed will also see the addition of an event stage, a two-story backstage area, sloped seating, and a new one-story access corridor in the rear.
Within the packaging buildings, the formerly bricked-up windows in the packaging buildings will be opened up and replaced, while landscaping improvements will be carried out throughout the 4.25-acre site.
Closest bus service includes stops for Route 70 via five-minute walk south to Division & Elston. As far as closest CTA L service, the Blue Line at Division station is a 13-minute walk southwest, while the Red Line at North/Clybourn station is a 16-minute walk northeast. Tenants and patrons will also find Metra rail service via a 17-minute walk northwest to Clybourn station.
This current adaptive re-use serves as a harbinger for the extensive transformation set to befall the North Branch corridor, as the massive Lincoln Yards mega development kicks off nearby. Alongside other projects like 1525 N Elston Avenue and Triangle Square, the Morton Salt Factory conversion will be one of the first projects to kickstart this larger metamorphosis. With Blue Star Properties also serving as general contractor, the roof replacement stage is expected to complete this coming winter, while the entirety of the $46 million project should wrap up by next summer.