WEST LOOP — Fulton Market could see an increasing variety of development projects next year as city officials consider rolling back industrial corridor restrictions.
Still, the proposed actions were a relief to neighbors Thursday as the city said it wants to repeal just a portion of the Kinzie Industrial Corridor's designation as a manufacturing district.
The Kinzie Industrial Corridor, established in the early 1990s, is roughly bounded by Hubbard Street and Grand Avenue to the north, Halsted Street to the east, Lake Street to the south and a winding trail of streets just east of Kedzie Avenue on the west.
City officials want to repeal a portion of that manufacturing district east of Ogden Avenue, opening it up to more commercial and retail uses like office space.
The proposal is a step toward implementing the Fulton Market Innovation District plan, which was approved in 2014 as a way to help shape development in the West Loop. If enacted by City Council, the repeal would open up the Fulton Market area to more uses beyond traditional manufacturing, but would still not allow residential developments.
Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said the proposal is beneficial for the booming West Loop and will also help the neighboring Near West Side attract residential developments to serve employees commuting to West Loop businesses.
"If it were not for this area being off limits for residential [developments], all the residential surrounding it would not have been built," Burnett said. "So in order to encourage more to build up the West Side of the city, we have to limit the concentration in just one area."
The city began work on implementing the $42 million Fulton Market Innovation District plan in July, and the Thursday meeting was the first chance for neighbors and business owners to see just what the Department of Planning and Development had in store for implementing the FMID's overarching goals.
The Fulton Market area has become more a hub for information and technology development than the business support services readily found across the Kinzie Industrial Corridor, said Erika Sellke, a coordinating planner with the department.
Within the Fulton Market Innovation District, city officials want to repeal a portion of the Kinzie Industrial Corridor limitations on which types of development are allowed. [Provided/Department of Planning and Development]
And Burnett said more developers are approaching him with such proposals — particularly since they've learned of his firm opposition to allowing residential buildings north of Lake Street.
"Particular developers want the fastest buck they can make, and that's often residential," Burnett said. "But I'm trying to keep a balance and keep it growing while pushing things west, too."
Neighborts can weigh in on the plan at two future meetings in September and October ahead of the ordinance's introduction into City Council.
West Central Association President Armando Chacon asked officials to reconsider plans to set the new Kinzie Industrial Corridor boundary in the middle of Ogden Avenue, suggesting it would pose challenges for developing the strip.
Meanwhile, West Loop urban planner Levar Hoard asked that the plan focus on innovation and find ways to encourage artists, makers and other creative trailblazers to set up shop in the neighborhood.
"What is the city doing to foster actual innovation?" Hoard said. "I'd love to see this area become a true innovation district, but that requires a bit of vision."