Is Polk Street in Line For a New 40-Story Skyscraper?

South Loop (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)

The South Loop in all its south loopiness. (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)

Some days we put one and one together and get two.  Other days we get eleven.  Today feels like an “eleven” day.

Joe Zekas over at YoChicago! has a thing for photographing Chicago from altitude.  Sometimes it’s a plane.  Sometimes it’s a helicopter.  Often it’s just from the roofs of many of downtown’s buildings.  So it wasn’t all that surprising when a couple of days ago he sent us a picture of the South Loop taken from the roof of 1000 South Clark a couple of weeks ago.  What caught out attention was the little truck in the corner.  A soil sampling truck.

Soil sampling truck at Polk and Rock Island tracks

Hello, Sailor! (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)

There’s one thing we’ve learned in the dozen years we’ve been publishing: As sure as a robin thrusting his beak through the snow signals the coming of spring, a geotechnical crew tasting Chicago soil means someone is going to build something big.

A check of city records for this location shows that it’s part of the Roosevelt Collection property, and has been previously approved for a 380-foot-tall tower, or a maximum F.A.R. of 12.5.  It also shows that as of 2013, a 425 foot tower was proposed.

So now that the seeds of curiosity have been sown, when will we see a skyscraper sprout?  It’s hard to say.  Sometimes the lag between truck and tower is a few months.  Sometimes it’s a year or more.  But whatever happens, it gives us another location to add to our list of properties to keep an eye on.

Location: Polk Street at Rock Island tracks, South Loop


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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