“If you ask developer Zack Cupkovic about Goose Island, he’ll tell you it’s been overlooked for too long.
“‘Goose Island is the ugly, red-headed stepchild of Chicago. … Nobody gets off at Division,’ said Cupkovic, who oversees investments and special projects for developer R2. ‘It never gets the attention it deserves. We’re finally getting some love,’ Cupkovic said.
“One of the Chicago-based firm’s highest-profile projects is turning the old Morton Salt factory into a concert venue along with Blue Star Properties, the development arm of 16 on Center. The group owns Empty Bottle, Thalia Hall, Beauty Bar and other Chicago venues.
“R2 has spent years reimagining Goose Island and the abandoned factories there. R2’s headquarters, 1315 N. North Branch St., turned the abandoned 1920s Raymond Brothers pulverizing factory into a series of subdivided office spaces with airy plants, mid-century furniture, glass-paneled offices and open-floor conference tables. The building has the trappings of millennial work-life culture, with an indoor gym and locker room.
“In the past few years, R2 has attracted several tenants to 1315 N. North Branch St.: CB2, the young-adult-focused home furnishings arm of Crate & Barrel; Elite Staffing Inc., a family-owned staffing agency that relocated from River North; and Transportation One Logistics.
“The $30 million Morton Salt project is expected to create 200 construction jobs and about 50 permanent jobs. It will generate $4.5 million in annual tax revenues, according to plans submitted to the city.
“The developers also worked to protect a piece of Chicago history: they sought landmark status for the old salt factory as they planned to keep the factory’s iconic sign, which shows a girl in a yellow dress holding an umbrella.
“During a recent public meeting, Mary Lu Seidel, of Preservation Chicago, praised the developers’ commitment to reusing a historical structure as opposed to tearing it down.
“‘It is really encouraging to have a developer like this come in and create a phenomenal asset. … We encourage future developers to model this behavior,’ she said.” (Alani, Block Club Chicago, 6/25/21)
Group Turning Morton Salt Factory Into Music Venue Sees Promise In Goose Island: ‘We’re Finally Getting Some Love’; Lower rents, edgier offices, parking and outdoor spaces are a draw in a neighborhood once known for industry, Hannah Alani, Block Club Chicago, 6/25/21