Downtown Dairy Depot to Become Hip Hostel Hotel

312 West Chestnut - 004

One of the great things about Chicago buildings is that not only do they inspire us to look to the future, but many of them are also ties to the city’s past.

312 West Chestnut - 002One of  our favorites is the old Borden Dairy Depot at 312 West Chestnut Street, hard against the CTA Brown Line tracks snaking through River North.

The building is narrow and runs the entire length of the block between Chestnut Street and West Locust Street.  Cook County records show it was built in 1931.

More importantly, it has a huge, friendly terra-cotta “Borden’s” sign over its front entrance, which features a garage door.  It’s not hard to imagine horse-pulled wagons pulling out of the sally port loaded down with massive steel vessels of milk and fanning out across the Gold Coast.

Disused for years, the building will now get a new life.   Marc Realty has filed paperwork with the city to turn the building into a two-story, 46-room hostel.  Downtown Chicago has seen a surge in hostels in recent years as hotel rates remain sky high for middle-income travelers, and stratospheric for the backpacker set.

312 West Chestnut - 001Marc’s partner in the project is Urban Holiday, which operates a well-regarded hostel in the Bucktown neighborhood.  It appears to appeal largely to Spaniards and Australians seeking clean accommodations at reasonable prices who don’t mind riding the Blue Line into downtown to see the majority of the city’s attractions.

The hostel going into the Borden’s building would put its clients within walking distance of the Gold Coast, and bus distance of everywhere else downtown.



Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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