“Morton Salt’s former warehouse along the Chicago River could soon begin its transformation into a music and events venue, after a $50 million redevelopment plan was approved Friday by the City Council.
“Friday’s vote was the final step Chicago developers Blue Star Properties and R2 needed to allow nonindustrial uses for the former salt storage facility, which sits on 4.25 riverfront acres on the city’s North Side.
“The complex will be able to accommodate crowds as large as 3,600 inside one of the former salt sheds, and 7,000 people outside, Golden said. Multiple events can happen simultaneously, such as a wine festival outside and a show inside, he said.
“We’re very optimistic about the future of live entertainment and live experiences in general,” Golden said. “We want to redefine what a live music experience is in Chicago. Having that fairground allows you to have some food, walk around, look at some jewelry or books, and after the show you have a drink on the river or take a boat ride. It is a magical type of place. At night it’s beautiful.”
“The developers are in talks with groups such as breweries, coffee roasters and small manufacturers of products such as furniture to lease space in the main brick structure, Golden said.
“The developers have lined up construction financing, which is expected to be finalized next month, and hope to begin the project by this summer. The first tenants could move in by early next year, and the indoor events venue should open by late summer 2022, Golden said.
“The Morton Salt redevelopment has been envisioned for years. The salt storage and packaging warehouse shut down in 2015, after Morton Salt used it for 86 years.
“The distinctive sign will stay, as will most of the existing structures. The developers are seeking Chicago landmark status for the building. Earlier this month, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted to approve preliminary landmark status. Formally landmarking the building would place restrictions on how the building is altered, but it would preserve the unique structures and create tax incentives for the developers. (Ori, Chicago Tribune, 2/26/21)
Morton Salt project heads toward zoning approval; The proposal for the old industrial site calls for space for live music, entertainment and offices while preserving the iconic sign, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 1/19/21