Salt Shed to Pepper West Town With Entertainment, Bars, Offices

The massive salt shed that has greeted commuters coming into town on the Kennedy Expressway since before there was a Kennedy Expressway is about to start a new chapter in its existence.  

Morton Salt's Elston Avenue terminal (by Cosmo1976 [CC BY-SA 3.0)
Morton Salt’s Elston Avenue terminal (by Cosmo1976 [CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Chicago Plan Commission has approved a $30 million project to turn the old Morton Salt Elston Avenue Terminal into a mixed-use development.

It was a little over five years ago that our our Bill Motchan reported that Morton was dashing the packaging and warehousing facility at 1357 North Elston Avenue.  At the time, it only had 23 employees, not including the forever-eight-year-old Morton Salt Girl, who has been spilling product on the roof of the structure since the late 1920’s.

The Morton Salt Girl.

Now it is expected to have 50 permanent employees in a combination of offices, bars, restaurants, and a concert hall. Plus, this will complete another section of the Chicago Riverwalk along the rapidly gentrifying north branch of the river.  While there is no regulation requiring those bars and restaurants to use the yellow-haired girl’s seasoning, the developers have agreed to have at least portions of the property landmarked by the city.

Missing from the plan: A basement speakeasy called The Salt Cellar. Opportunity missed.

The Lamar Johnson Collaborative design appears to embrace the site’s industrial history, from a new painted metal roof, all the way down to echoing the paths of the freight railroad tracks in the sidewalks.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Morton is expected to move its research lab from Elgin to the revitalized complex.

  • Address: 1357 North Elston Avenue
  • Zoning: M3-3 Heavy Industry District → C3-3 Commercial Manufacturing and Employment District → Waterway Business Planned Development
  • Packaging Building
    • Floors: 4
    • Maximum height: 51 feet, 5 9/16 inches
  • Garage Building
    • Floors: 2
    • Maximum height: 15 feet, 3 1/16 inches
  • Shed Building
    • Floors: 3
    • Maximum height: 64 feet, 2 7/16 inches
  • Automobile parking: 17 spaces

Location: 1357 North Elston Avenue, Goose Island

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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