Noted Chicago developer Sterling Bay has unveiled ambitious plans to build the city’s largest and tallest timber building since the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. They are planning a nine-story, 130-unit apartment building at 2100 N Southport Avenue in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.
The techniques utilized for timber buildings have been gaining popularity for some time now, however, the method has only recently caught the eyes of Chicagoland developers. There have been a number of Chicagoland proposals but few completed builds. According to a recent Crain’s piece, as of June 2022, there are 1,502 mass timber projects in construction or in the design phase across all 50 states. The Sterling Bay project will be the tallest proposal of its kind in the region and has been designed by Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture. Hartshorne Plunkard has also designed a five-story office building, mass timber structure that was constructed at 1040 W Fulton Street in the Fulton Market District.
Sterling Bay is not the only developer pushing for timber builds in Illinois. Houston-based Hines proposed a series of wood-framed office buildings on Goose Island in Chicago and in Oak Brook, however, neither project has broken ground. Similarly Chicago-based Perkins & Will released conceptual designs for a proposed 80-story wood tower on the South Branch of the Chicago River. There are not yet any formal plans for a build.
The $50 million Sterling Bay development will need to go through several stages of approval, including zoning changes before its future is secure. Sterling Bay reps have indicated that they hope to break ground on the project early next year. In a statement, Sterling Bay CEO Andy Gloor said that “Sterling Bay is reintroducing Chicago to large-scale timber construction, setting a new standard for future-forward development in our city. Mass timber buildings are safe, sustainable, and beautiful, and we are excited to lead Chicago’s real estate community in working with this innovative building material at 2100 N Southport Avenue.”
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It’s really nice to see all this development come to fruition. These areas on or near the north branch have so much potenial.
Also depending on how you define ‘region’, Milwaukee is just wrapping up a 25 story timber building called Ascent.
Cleveland also just wrapped up a significant timber building in its Ohio City neighborhood, which I believe is larger than this.
The Cleveland building is beautiful. It was actually designed by Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, same architect for this proposed building! I’m in Cleveland right now and just grabbed coffee in the cafe located at the ground floor. This whole development is impressive. Timber building, large and spacious apartments, native species landscaping, great pedestrian experience.
It seems to me the fire escapes being wood might offer less protection to escapees and access for firemen to reenter structure