Chicago developers and architects know a thing or two about building on challenging sites. Think about the gravity-defying 150 N. Riverside, a 54-story tower with a narrow base wedged between the Chicago River and active train lines. And then there’s the overhaul of the Old Post Office, the art deco behemoth which straddles Ida B. Wells Drive.
And now, developer R2 Companies is marketing an opportunity to build a structure on a site that runs over the Kennedy Expressway near Fulton Market. Conceptual renderings in a marketing brochure depict a glass box surrounded by landscaped outdoor space at 708 W. Wayman Street, which could be a big opportunity for exposure says Zach Cupkovic of R2 Cos.
“The idea is that because of the visibility — 200,000 cars pass by it every day — you could build a structure that has ad potential, but it’s not a traditional billboard,” Cupkovic says. “It could something that’s interactive or experiential, and because it’s so close to Fulton Market and a unique site, you could build something with outdoor space.”
Currently, the site, which was one piece of a larger Fulton Market portfolio that R2 Companies purchased a few years ago, is being used as a parking lot. Cupkovic says that as it stands, the developer could only build a 12,500-square-foot structure as of right. Depending on the user, there could be the possibility to engage with the alderman and community for a slightly larger structure at the site.
The proposal for the Wayman Street site and images from the marketing brochure was first covered by Urbanize Chicago.
Because it’s a challenging and unique site, Cupkovic says that it’s an opportunity to think outside the box. He suggests that it could be a great fit for retail or maybe even a museum.
“My thought was because there’s all of this potential for outdoor space, could you do something that’s recreationally-focused, whether that’s a museum or outdoor food and beverage,” Cupkovic says.
But what about the potential hazards of having so many vehicles passing by? Could there be concern for safety and health?
“You’ve got many other restaurants and retail locations that are just as close to where our site is,” Cupkovic says of the unique property. “I personally don’t think it’s an issue.”
Cupkovic adds that the developer would comply with all measures presented by state and local authorities, such as IDOT and CDOT, on construction at the site.
Gensler, who R2 Cos. is working with on the overhaul of the Morton Salt campus near Goose Island, has offered a visual of R2’s idea for the site. Renderings depict a lush park with trees and sitting areas juxtaposed with the Loop skyline in the background.
And while the renderings almost look a bit fantastical, it’s certainly doable, Cupkovic says.
“To be able to take a parking lot that has 200,000 cars passing by it every day that’s located at the gateway to Fulton Market, it’s a no-brainer that we’d try to do something special with this site.”