Nine New Skyscrapers, Transit Hub Planned for Chicago’s South Loop

Revised plans for the One Central megadevelopment will be discussed with the public for the first time Monday night (January 25th). It’s a huge plan. Nearly $4 billion just for Phase One. If built as presented, it would radically alter Chicago’s downtown skyline, especially when viewed from Lake Michigan and Indiana.

January 2021 diagram of One Central (via City of Chicago)
January 2021 diagram of One Central (via City of Chicago)

If you want to participate in the public videoconference, you’re already too late. It’s scheduled for 6pm, but because the city didn’t spend your tax dollars on the really expensive Zoom license, it’s only allowed to have 500 participants. And all 500 slots have been taken.

That said, you can still watch the action on the interwebs. Follow this link to the Department of Planning and Development’s YouTube channel where the event will stream live.

Here are the highlights of the new One Central project:

  • Net site area: 1,358,264 square feet
  • Open space: 395,339 square feet
  • Floor area ratio: 16.42 (16.0 base + .42 bonus)
  • Nine new skyscrapers, arranged north-south between East McFetridge Drive and McCormick Place
    • Four residential towers on the north end, plus several small residential buildings.
      • 9,300,000 square feet
      • 9,050 residences total
    • Four commercial towers in the middle.
      • 9,450,000 square feet
    • One hotel tower at the south end, next to the convention center.
      • 1,500,000 square feet
  • A new transit hub
    • CTA train spur from the current Green and Orange tracks
    • Metra commuter trains
    • South Shore Line commuter trains
    • Amtrak trains
    • “ChiLine” service. This looks like one of those downtown transit circulators that certain second- and third-tier cities have. It’s just a bus route with a fancy paint job, so don’t get excited. You can put puppies in the oven, but that don’t make them biscuits.
    • 100 feet tall above podium, 161 feet above grade
    • 5 stories
  • A “welcome center”
    • 350,000 square feet
  • A pedestrian bridge linking East 15th Place and Solider Field
  • Miscellaneous other buildings and infrastructure
  • Phase 1
    • Transit center
    • Common podium to link all buildings
      • Decks over the train tracks and Weldon train yard
      • Height: 61 feet
      • Automobile parking: 3,500 spaces
      • Cost $3,800,000
    • Four residential buildings
      • 42 feet tall
      • 5 stories
      • 190 total residences
  • Phase 2A
    • Estimated construction dates: 2025-2035
    • 4 residential towers
      • 9,300,000 square feet total
      • 8,860 residences total
      • Each between 60 and 89 stories
      • Tallest building: 890 feet above podium
    • 1 commercial building
      • 1,200,000 square feet
      • Between 45 and 55 stories
      • 770 feet above podium
    • 1 hotel building
      • 1,500,000 square feet
      • 2,500 hotel rooms
      • 60-80 stories tall
      • 806 feet above podium
  • Phase 2B
    • Estimated construction dates: 2030-2040
    • 3 commercial buildings
    • 8,250,000 square feet
    • 55 to 73 stories tall
    • Tallest building: 1,015 feet above podium
January 2021 diagram of One Central (via City of Chicago)
January 2021 diagram of One Central (via City of Chicago)

Location: 1501 South Prairie Avenue, 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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