Office to Apartment Conversion Coming to Uptown – For Realsies This Time

Combined Insurance Company of America Building - Chicago, Illinois - August, 2012 - 004a

Combined Insurance Company of America Building, courtesy of Artefaqs architecture photography

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.  A real estate development company has bought the former Combined Insurance Company building at 5050 North Broadway  and plans to turn the office building into apartments.  Sound familiar?  That was what we expected back in 2011 when Imperial Realty bought the building.  Now Crain’s Chicago Business reports that Cedar Street has bought the building and plans to revive its residential future.

According to Crain’s, the company plans to spend $150 million converting the building into apartments and retail.  Its predecessor never got very far with the apartment portion of the program, and half of the building ended up with office tenants.

On the surface, Cedar Street’s plan seems to have legs.  It has been very active in the neighborhood turning older, sometimes historic, dilapidated buildings into hip new apartment buildings.  And the purchase transaction comes at a time when Chicago is seeing increased demand for apartment homes, especially in the Argyle area, and especially ones with transit-oriented potential.

How many new homes will be carved out of the building is still to be determined.  The redevelopment project includes adding another mid-rise tower to the property.  Where exactly would that tower go?  The Crain’s article is murky.  But the sale included the low-slung parking garage across the street.  You may know it as the home of the Vintage Garage series of antique shows.  But that may be spared, as Cedar Street owns other property nearby which might be suitable.

Location: 5050 North Broadway, Uptown

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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