Two years ago, the City Council adopted a change to the zoning code that allows properties in certain areas of two industrial corridors to be rezoned to a B, C, or DX district, depending – these are zoning classifications that allow more uses than extant. Rezoning to non-manufacturing zoning districts was not previously allowed. To rezone, though, the law requires a "conversion fee" from the property owner.

The conversion fee is a function of average property prices in the corridor and average renovation and remediation costs, among other factors (see 16-8-080). It's applicable in the North Branch Industrial Corridor's Subdistrict A and Subdistrict C, and all PMD and M-zoned properties in the Kinzie Corridor Overlay district. The map shows the eligible "conversion areas" in green.

To ameliorate this conversion fee as a barrier to building reuse, the Emanuel administration has proposed a change to the zoning code that would waive the conversion fee under specific circumstances. The ordinance, O2019-2682, would amend Chicago Municipal Code 16-8-070, waive the entire fee for rezoning from a PMD zone to a non-PMD zone, and add new standards.

The map shows the conversion areas (in green) that would be eligible in the proposed ordinance. They are part of the Kinzie Overlay District and the North Branch Industrial Corridor. Conversion areas are areas that had been reserved for manufacturing uses and can, since July 2017, be rezoned to B, C, and DX, depending on the area.

The map shows the conversion areas (in green) that would be eligible in the proposed ordinance. They are part of the Kinzie Overlay District and the North Branch Industrial Corridor. Conversion areas are areas that had been reserved for manufacturing uses and can, since July 2017, be rezoned to B, C, and DX, depending on the area.

The proposed ordinance assumes the rezoning is being made to allow new uses in an existing building, and to renovate the building to accommodate the new uses.

The proposed standards comprise:

  1. The rezoning must be a Type 1 map amendment (where only the City Council-approved use and building design are allowed after the rezoning), or a planned development.

  2. The building height cannot increase by more than 10 feet.

  3. The building coverage cannot increase by more than 10 percent.

  4. The floor area ratio can be expanded to maintain, reuse or rehabilitate buildings, to the extent the expansion does not increase the height or building coverage amounts specified in items 2 and 3.

Property owners who apply for and receive a conversion fee waiver would not be eligible to purchase the density bonus available in the two industrial corridors. The property would still be eligible for the free TOD density bonus for being near a CTA or Metra station.

The ordinance's limitations on height, coverage, and density would stay with the property for 40 years. MAPS's zoning attorney Tim Barton pointed out that there's precedent for a long-term restriction. The "Class L" program gives a 12-year tax abatement for a renovation project in exchange for landmarking a building. Landmarking is a permanent status change.

Contact MAPS for a more detailed map, or to review how this proposed ordinance may affect your properties.

Photo of 939 W Fulton Market by Harry Carmichael