North Bridge’s Back Side Probed Again – Expansion Finally Coming?

It’s been a little over three years since we told you about the big plans for the Shops at North Bridge to get even bigger.  Now Near North Spy Andy has registered a trio of photos with our Tip Line for us to check out.  They show soil sampling crews busy sampling soil to see what lurks beneath the surface parking lot that now inhabits 53 East Illinois Street.

North Bridge soil sampling (Courtesy of Near North Spy Andy)

North Bridge soil sampling (Courtesy of Near North Spy Andy)

This was formerly the location of a Lakeshore Athletic Club, but that was torn down in the early half of this decade.

In 2014, mall owners Macerich and the Alaska Permanent Fund said they planned to add another 65,000 square feet to the shopateria, adding a seventh block to the already six-block retail sprawl.  At the time, real estate analysts were all owl-faced about it because the outline didn’t include a hotel tower.  After all, this location is just a couple of hundred feet from North Michigan Avenue.  How do you put stylus to tablet and not come up with a hotel tower?  Especially since the land is already zoned DX-12, the city’s third-densest zoning category after DX-16 and Wrigley Field Men’s Room?

North Bridge soil sampling (Courtesy of Near North Spy Andy)

North Bridge soil sampling (Courtesy of Near North Spy Andy)

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen soil sampling crews probing the depths of this parking lot.  In May of last year, Near North Spy Harvey spotted a crew from the same boring company spinning augers in the same location.  Does a return visit mean a revised plan with a big, fat hotel tower?  Or are they simply crossing their i’s and dotting their t’s before printing blue?



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Location: 53 East Illinois Street, River North


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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