South Loop Air Rights Neighborhood In Play Again

Recently I was watching House Hunters on HGTV and a couple was looking at condominiums in the South Loop.  Someone commented that the view of Soldier Field from the unit they selected would remain unobstructed.  I told my wife, “No it won’t.  Those air rights have already been bought for development.”  Such are the perils of high-rise living in Chicago.

The approximate boundary of what was once called The Gateway (via Apple Maps)

We’ve reported several times on previous plans to deck over the Metra Electric tracks and build a neighborhood of skyscrapers on top.  To date, none have come to fruition.

But Crain’s Chicago Business reports that another effort is being made to transform what many American cities would consider lost industrial space into new urban life thanks to Chicago-style big thinking.

The man the plan this time is Wisconsin businessman Bob Dunn, according to Crain’s.  The business publication reports that he’s been talking with local politicians and bureaucrats about his vision for 34-acres of hovering potential between McFetridge Drive and McCormick Place.

The most recent plan from 2015 was for three thousand new homes in the sky.  We reported on plans back in 2012 when it was going to be called “The Gateway,” and again further back in 2008.  The Chicago Tribune did a piece on yet another proposal back in 2001. 

We should get another chance to write about this latest one in two weeks, as third ward Alderman Pat Dowell has called a public meeting on the plan for March 13th.

Location: McFetridge Drive, 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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