Planned Construction in Chicago's Little Italy

Upcoming Construction in Little Italy, Chicago

In this article, we take a deep dive into planned construction in Little Italy, Chicago’s longtime Italian-American cultural and communal base. In addition to serving as a cultural landmark and both residential and meeting place for Italian-Americans for generations, the area is also recognized as University Village because of the adjacent University of Illinois-Chicago campus.

Home to both great Italian-American heritage and a youthful university community, Little Italy and its famed Taylor Street and Lexington Street are just as well known for their numerous dining spots as they are for architectural and historical attractions like the Jane Addams Hull House Museum, the built-in-1871 John Coughlan House, and the Saint Basil and Holy Family church.

In order to find projects located within Little Italy, we used Geospex’s Custom Boundary Area tool within ConstructionWire’s planned construction data. We limited projects to those that fall within the northern boundary of the Eisenhower Expressway, West 16th Street to the south, the Dan Ryan Expressway to the east, and South Ashland Avenue to the west.

These projects are sourced from BuildCentral’s ConstructionWire, per a query for projects in the Little Italy, Chicago, area. These projects are listed in order according to estimated project value, with three in planning and one already under construction.

Little Italy 

Screenshot from BuildCentral’s ConstructionWire of Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood outlined by Geospex’s Custom Boundary Area tool

Above is a screenshot from BuildCentral’s ConstructionWire of Geospex’s mapping tool. Using Geospex’s Custom Boundary Area tool, we outlined the Little Italy neighborhood with the aforementioned boundaries of the Eisenhower Expressway, West 16th Street, the Dan Ryan Expressway, and South Ashland Avenue in mind. Not only does this tool allow us to isolate only those construction projects that fall within the Little Italy area (or any area that you want to define), but it also provides us with construction and demographic data about the bounded region.

Screenshot of Little Italy’s planned construction data sourced from Geospex’s Custom Boundary Area tool

According to the counts above, as of this article’s writing, Little Italy currently has 15 projects either in planning or under construction, per ConstructionWire. Additionally, you can see estimated total values for those projects.

Screenshot of Little Italy’s demographic data sourced from Geospex’s Custom Boundary Area tool

Now, as promised, it’s time to dig into some of Little Italy’s projects in planning and under construction.

UIC Computer Design Research and Learning Center

Rendering of the UIC Computer Design Research and Learning Center project (Courtesy UIC Today)

With ground already having been broken on this project earlier this year, this project’s construction end date is projected for fall 2022.

Project Type/Size: Universities/Colleges (135,000 sq-ft)
Construction Type: New
Estimated Value: $83.1 million
Sector: Public
Location: ChicagoIL 60607. 900 Taylor St
Details: Plans call for the construction of a 135,000-square-foot building for the University of Illinois-Chicago’s computer science department. The development is anticipated to consist of laboratory and office space.
Stage: Early Construction
Construction Start: Q3/2021
Construction End: Q3/2022
Bid Due Date: N/A

South Ashland Avenue Commercial Building 

The City of Chicago Committee on Zoning, Landmarks, and Building Standards has reviewed this project’s site plan. The site is owned by the Julian Grace Foundation, whose billionaire founders demolished a church at the site to make way for offices for community service businesses and nonprofits. 

Geospex screenshot of the South Ashland Avenue Commercial Building project

Project Type/Size:  Retail/Office (43,131 sq-ft) 
Construction Type:  New 
Estimated Value:  $5-$25 million 
Sector:  Private 
Location:  Chicago, IL 60608. 1319-1325 S. Ashland Ave. 
Details:  Plans call for the construction of a new 43,131-square-foot, five-story building with commercial space including office and retail, an outdoor rooftop garden, and parking for 4 automobiles, 7 bicycles and one loading berth. 
Stage:  Planning (Active) 
Construction End:  N/A 
Bid Due Date:  N/A 

Rush University Medical Center Outpatient Tower

Geospex screenshot of Rush University Medical Center Outpatient Tower project

The City of Chicago Planning Commission reviewed this project’s application in September 2021.

Project Type/Size: Medical
Construction Type: New
Estimated Value: $5-$25 million
Sector: Private
Location: ChicagoIL 60607. 1401 W Congress Pkwy
Details: Plans call for the construction of a five-story, 78-foot tall, 127,100-square-foot inpatient hospital building with 70 parking spaces.
Stage: Planning (Active)
Construction End: N/A
Bid Due Date: N/A

Lexington Street Convent Conversion

Geospex screenshot of Lexington Street Convent Conversion project

The Chicago Committee on Zoning has reviewed and approved this project’s rezoning request.

Project Type/Size: MultiFamily (14 units)
Construction Type: New
Estimated Value: $1-$5 million
Sector: Private
Location: ChicagoIL 60607. 1218 W Lexington St
Details: Plans call for renovations and the conversion of an existing structure into 14 apartments. There will be four one-bedroom units, four two-bedroom units, and six three-bedroom units. The one-bedroom units will range from 395 to 475 square feet, the two-bedrooms will be 680 square feet, and the three-bedrooms will range from 1,035 1,055 square feet.
Stage: Planning (Active)
Construction End: N/A
Bid Due Date: N/A

Because of Little Italy’s proximity to the University of Illinois-Chicago and its student population, the area is sure to see consistent additions not only to campus infrastructure, but also in the form of restaurants and other attractions for the area’s relatively youthful population. What’s more is that the area’s high concentration of churches and other religious institutions often require upkeep projects. One thing never to forget is that churchgoers often have an appetite by the time they’ve concluded their day’s worship, so proximity to a house of worship is usually a good thing for a restaurant.

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