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Along the western side of the Chicago River, at the northeast corner of Chicago and Halsted, sits a wide industrial building that can best be described as…well, just big and brown. 

It’s the former distribution hub for The Chicago Tribune newspaper and now sits vacant on 7 acres of land. It might not look like much now, but will soon be a hot spot to live and play in downtown Chicago.

The site of the Chicago Tribune Distribution Center, the future home of 700 West Chicago
Future site of a new office and residential development campus at 700 W. Chicago Ave.

Across the street from this 7-acre parcel is another massive 30-acre chunk of land owned by Tribune Media Company. Stretching along the Chicago River from Grand Avenue to the south to Chicago Avenue to the north, this plot of riverside land is a developer’s dream. 

A map showing where downtown Chicago's new River District near River West is located
Tribune Media’s 37-acres of riverside property is a megadevelopment on the eastern edge of River West. The larger 30 acres are highlighted in orange; the 7-acre site highlighted in pink.

The River District’s Twists and Turns  

Ground hasn’t even been broken yet, but a few chapters have already been written in the story of the site’s development. 

Since 2016, Tribune Real Estate Holdings has mulled over redevelopment plans for the both the 7-acre and 30-acre sites, and gave it a moniker – The River District. 

It’s one of three (yes, three!) megadevelopment sites planned along the Chicago River. The River District will join the 55-acre Lincoln Yards project to the north, and a 62-acre development adjacent to the South Loop, called The 78.

In 2017, the River District master plans, designed by architecture firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz, were presented to the city of Chicago. At one point, the plans were revised and pitched to Amazon as a possible location for their second headquarters (Arlington, Virginia won that bid).  

By October 2018 the city officially approved The River District plans, which allowed for 14 mixed-use new buildings. The vision included as many as 4,100 residential units, as well as office buildings and retail. Green space was top of mind too – over 4-acres of open space and walkways along the waterfront would welcome residents and visitors. 

But in a surprising turn, just four months after plans were approved, Tribune Media listed all but the 7-aces at 700 W Chicago Avenue for sale. 

Plans for those 7-acres are still moving forward in a joint venture with Riverside Investment and Development. Although smaller than originally planned, this first wave of development will initiate a massive transformation of this area.   

A sneak peek at what’s in store for 700 West Chicago

So what about those extra 30 acres? Tribune Media may choose to sell them outright or decide to partner with developers to bring their ambitious master plan to reality over the next several years.

The Future 700 West Chicago

Let’s talk about what the future holds for 700 West Chicago Avenue, or 700W as it’s also being dubbed. Good-bye forgettable brick building. Hello, brand-new beautiful…everything!  

Chicago-based architecture firm Goettsch Partners designed four glassy towers to fill those 7 acres. They include three loft-style office buildings, a single 310-unit apartment complex, and an underground garage with 540 parking and 50 bike spaces. 

Of course, being a prime location along water, the 4.5 acres of landscaped public park space, riverwalk, and outdoor dining will be amazing…especially if there are tacos! River West is a taco desert and the struggle is real for busy professionals that must trek to other neighborhoods to satisfy taco cravings. But seriously, any new alfresco dining options 700W brings our way will be wonderful.

To say 700 West Chicago’s new modern buildings and riverside green space will be an improvement from the current heavy industrial environment would be a ridiculous understatement. This is an area that is in dire need of softer landscaped outdoor areas to accommodate how people live and play in today’s modern city.

New Neighborhood Alert

The future River District sits in the River West neighborhood, but once it’s established, it’s likely to be considered Chicago’s newest neighborhood, creating greater cohesion between River North, River West, Fulton River District and the Loop. 

Developers envision the River District area to be a major Midwest tech hub, bringing new employers and residents to the area. River West and River North have already welcomed several tech-based businesses, such as mHub. In fact, you can peer across the river and spot the offices for Groupon, Tempus and several diverse tech-based businesses at 600 W. Chicago Avenue.

To prepare for the influx of new residents and workers, developers have committed to investing $1 million in improvements to utility infrastructure, traffic signals at nearby major intersections, and an increase of pedestrian and bike paths.

Public transportation will see a boost too. While Chicago Ave. and Halsted Ave. have bus stops at the intersection, and there is even a Water Taxi stop just south on the river, there are plans to run shuttle busses from this new development to CTA train stations, Union Station and the Ogilvie Transportation Center.  

Nearby Highlights and Conveniences:

  • mHub
  • Groupon Headquarters
  • Tempus
  • Uptake
  • Ameritrade Financial
  • VCA Lake Shore Animal Hospital
  • CVS
  • Target
  • The Goddess and Grocer
  • AIRE Ancient Baths Spa
  • Montgomery Ward Park
  • Jewel-Osco
  • East Bank Club
  • Erie Café
  • Jerk Jamaican Barbecue

River West is the neighborhood that will be transformed the most by this development, and over the last decade it has increasingly become a hot spot for new luxury apartment developments throughout the neighborhood. For insight on changes happening in this sweet pocket of Chicago, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to River West.

If living in a new luxury apartment in the super convenient River West neighborhood sounds perfect for you, reach out to HotSpot Rentals today. Our expert agents would love to help you find just the right place for your next move.

Blog Author Signature: Sarah
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