Downtown Chicago’s Latest Mega Development Hits City Hall With 4,000+ New Homes

A large, underutilized slice of downtown Chicago is about to get utilized out the wazoo.  Detailed paperwork has hit City Hall for North Union, the hefty plan to turn a five block slab of Near North Side property into the city’s latest mega development.

Diagram of North Union (Via JDL Development)
Diagram of North Union (Via JDL Development)

The property in question used to be domain of The Moody Bible Institute.  A few years ago, it decided to convert the mostly vacant space into cash, by selling it to JDL Development.  The Goose Island developer is now ready to turn its hopes and dreams into brick and mortar, filing the paperwork necessary to start turning loam into homes for the next eight years.

This is a plan so big, that for the first time in the 18 years we’ve been reporting on downtown Chicago development, the number of statements in the development plan reaches into double letters; from a, b, and c all the way up to dd, ee, and ff.  If you’ve wondered why good coffee and fine chewing pencils have become so scarce in West Town, the entire supply was probably bogarted by Hartshorne Plunkard Architects for this one.

March, 2021 diagram of 312 West Walton Street
March, 2021 diagram of 312 West Walton Street

Everybody and their dog are talking about affordable housing these days.  This project will generate a good number of new affordable housing units.  The exact number is still in flux.  But right now it looks like it’ll be between 354 and 491 units.  The way we read things, 236 units will be in this project, and the remainder will either exist off-site, or in the form of a check for a couple of dozen million dollars sent to the city.

By contrast, hardly anybody and their cat are talking about code orange buildings in Chicago.  There is one in this development: 221 West Walton Street.  This building was built in 1892 as Fire Patrol Station #2.  It will be visually preserved, but still renovated into a two-story home.

For those of you just tuning in, hold on to your rabbit ears and adjust your horizontal hold for the details:

  • Address: 142-172 West Chicago Avenue
  • Address: 800-934 North LaSalle Street
  • Address: 152-314 West Walton Street
  • Address: 801-921 North Wells Street
  • Address: 828-950 North Wells Street
  • Address: 201-315 West Oak Street
  • Address: 230-314 West Oak Street
  • Address: 859-1037 North Franklin Street
  • Address: 930-1036 North Franklin Street
  • Address: 210-212 West Chestnut Street
  • Address: 200-210 West Institute Place
  • Developer: North Union LLC
  • For realsies: JDL Development
  • Developer: Moody Bible Institute of Chicago
  • Architecture firm: Hartshorne Plunkard Architects 
  • Zoning: Institutional Planned Development 477 and C1-3 Neighborhood Commercial District → DX-5 Downtown Mixed Use → Institutional-Residential-Business Planned Development
  • Net site area: 749,186 square feet
  • Floor area ratio: 3.1723 to 10.67.  5.57 average.
  • Maximum number of residences: 4,028 (Not including existing Moody Bible Institute dorm rooms)
    • Subarea A: 1,372
    • Subarea B: 1,539
    • Subarea C: 248
    • Subarea D: None
    • Subarea E: 809
    • Subarea F: 60
  • Maximum heights:
    • 205 West Oak:
      • Maximum height: 408 feet
      • Height to roof: 396 feet
      • Floors: 38
    • 215 West Walton:
      • Maximum height: 91 feet
      • Height to roof: 83 feet, six inches
      • Floors: 6
    • 216 West Locust:
      • Maximum height: 51 feet
      • Height to roof: 45 feet
      • Floors: 4
    • 221 West Walton:
      • Parapet height: 31 feet
      • Height to roof: 25 feet
      • Floors: 2
    • 232 West Chestnut:
      • Maximum height: 70 feet
      • Heigh to roof: 70 feet
      • Floors 5
    • 235-305 West Oak:
      • Maximum height: 48 feet
      • Height to roof: 48 feet
      • Floors: 4
    • 300-310 West Oak:
      • Maximum height: Maybe 694 feet, paperwork is illegible
      • Height to roof: Maybe 694 feet, paperwork is illegible
      • Floors: Maybe 66, paperwork is illegible
    • 312 West Walton Street:
      • Maximum height: 380 feet
      • Height to roof: 380 feet
      • Floors: 37
    • 871 North Franklin:
      • Maximum height: 50 feet
      • Height to roof: 50 feet
      • Floors: 4
    • 878 North Wells: 
      • Maximum height: 279 feet
      • Height to roof: 261 feet, six inches
      • Floors: 25
    • 909 North Franklin:
      • Maximum height: 160 feet
      • Height to roof: 160 feet
      • Floors: 12
    • 919 North Franklin:
      • Maximum height: 34 feet
      • Height to roof: 26 feet
      • Floors: 2
    • 920 North Wells:
      • Maximum height: 217 feet, six inches
      • Height to roof: 201 feet, six inches
      • Floors: 19
  • Automobile parking: Lots and lots and lots.
  • Bicycle parking: A fraction of the automobile spaces.
  • Public open space: 110,500 square feet, just over 2½ acres
  • Park: Open to the public from 6am to 11pm every single day of the year.

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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