The historic Central Manufacturing Distric warehouse at 1769 W. Pershing Road, Chicago, is the focus of the city's request for development proposals.

City Pitches Historic Warehouse Redevelopment Again

Published September 16, 2022

The City of Chicago is once again pushing for redevelopment of its underused and dilapidated Central Manufacturing District properties, including the historic Quartermaster Depot warehouse at 1769 W. Pershing Road, Chicago, and the neighboring vehicle storage lot and shed building at 1717 W. Pershing Road.

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A tour of the properties on September 15, 2022, had Chicago Department of Planning & Development Lead Planner Nolan Zaroff showcasing development opportunities to attending architects, planners and developers.

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The tour follows the July 18, 2022, release of the City of Chicago’s Pershing Road RFP (or Request For Proposal) detailing the site, development requirements and necessary developer qualifications.

This push is the latest in a series of city attempts to inspire development here, including a larger package of city-owned Central Manufacturing District properties failing at the finals of the C40 international urban design competition.

So what’s different now?

“This time, we’re splitting it up,” Zaroff said.

1.5 Million Is a Lot

Earlier development proposal requests included all three sibling warehouses fronting Pershing Road — 1769 W. Pershing Road, 1819 W. Pershing Road and 1869 W. Pershing Road — each with about 500,000 square feet of floor space.

“We tried to market all the buildings as one,” Zaroff said. “1.5 million [square feet] is a lot.”

Now, both 1819 and 1869 W. Pershing Road are undergoing multimillion dollar redevelopments for continued municipal use while the two properties to the east hopefully get developed.

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Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community

“There’s lots more interest in the properties this time,” Zaroff said.

No Demolition of Warehouse

The RFP details options for developers, including mandates that the 1717 W. Pershing Road property not be split off into a standalone development, and requirements to maintain the historic character of the Central Manufacturing District warehouse.

“We will not entertain proposals for demolition [of the warehouse],” Zaroff said. “There is an expectation to maintain the facade.”

The properties are currently zoned for commercial and manufacturing use, however, development proposals could include changes in land use, Zaroff said. “We’re open to creative and adaptive use.”

Residential Remains Challenging

“Residential remains challenging here,” he said, adding that any proposed residential development must mitigate the impacts of the adjacent Planned Manufacturing District No. 8, an area the City of Chicago has designated for heavy industry.

Jason Roberts, director of Logistics and Supply for the City of Chicago, also accompanied the tour and detailed how the warehouse is on the National Register of Historic Places, but has not received landmark designation by the city.

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Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community

Roberts said the RFP included a stipulation that the development continue to support operations and storage for the three city departments that use the properties, or the developer can work with the city to propose an alternative site for these operations and vehicle storage.

Neighborhood Focal Point

“We’d have a conversation about this,” Zaroff said.

The area map from the City of Chicago's Pershing Road RFP shows the site location within a red box at the south edge of the McKinley Park neighborhood.The area map from the City of Chicago's Pershing Road RFP shows the site location within a red box at the south edge of the McKinley Park Community Area.In the RFP, Maurice Cox, commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development, said the development “has the potential to create a new neighborhood focal point that catalyzes additional investment within the Central Manufacturing District complex and throughout the Southwest Side.”

The RFP spelled out some potential ideas for the property, including “local retail, dining, institutional or research uses, technology or development centers, or office space, light manufacturing, or other appropriate, contributing uses.”

It offered three potential suggestions for how the warehouse alone, or both properties, might be redeveloped.

McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan

A development that meshes well with the McKinley Park neighborhood is a priority, the RFP said, pulling goals from the McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan: a document published in early 2021 by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) as a project of the McKinley Park Development Council.

These neighborhood priorities include promoting equitable transit-oriented development, revitalizing commercial corridors, modernizing the Central Manufacturing District, enhancing parks and recreational opportunities and creating a resilient community, the RFP said.

Has To Pencil Out

Zaroff said the city was establishing no set target budgets for the project, especially since his department is waiting on an appraisal of the property and an evaluation of environmental remediation requirements. “We don’t have a figure,” he said.

However, “financial feasibility, first and foremost” is the factor that must support any successful proposal, Zaroff said. “The numbers have to pencil out.”

Although safety issues prevented the September 15, 2022, tour from entering the Quartermaster Depot warehouse, the McKinley Park News covered an earlier tour of the property in the February 27, 2018, article “Tour Offers Peek Inside Central Manufacturing District Buildings.” The following photo gallery accompanied that article and displays photos from the building’s interior:

I mean who wouldn’t want to be able to eat, shop, work and be able to look out and smell all the pollution from the mat asphalt plant?

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