Fulton Market Innovation District Study Area, 2020. (Source: Fulton Market Innovation District Plan Update, 2021)


On February 18, 2021, the Chicago Plan Commission adopted the Fulton Market Innovation District Plan Update (“FMID Update”). If the newly-adopted policies are enacted into law by the City Council — and that may happen as soon as this spring – there could be significant new opportunities for development throughout the Fulton Market and Kinzie corridors, and particularly along the highly-desirable Fulton and Randolph streets.

The FMID is an approximately 217-acre district located in Chicago’s Near West Side, bounded roughly by Hubbard Street on the north, Halsted Street on the east, Randolph Street on the south, and Ogden Avenue on the west.

The initial FMID land use plan, adopted in 2014, set forth a vision for appropriate land uses and future development within the FMID. Based on the recommendations of the 2014 plan, the City established the Fulton-Randolph Market Landmark District to preserve and protect the cultural identity and historic assets of the area. The Chicago Plan Commission then adopted the West Loop Design Guidelines to promote high-quality urban design in the district.  Additionally, in order to support the demand for high-density office, commercial, and hotel development in the district, the City repealed portions of Planned Manufacturing District Number 4 and expanded the boundaries of the Downtown to the Fulton Market area. Because the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund bonus floor area system is only available in downtown districts, the enlargement of the Downtown area allowed for the opportunity to use the floor area bonus system in Fulton Market.

The February 2021 FMID Plan Update supersedes the 2014 plan and serves as the land use plan for the district, setting forth planning goals and strategies that will be used by City staff in the review of planned development applications and zoning change requests within the plan area.

Notable among the goals and strategies set forth in the plan, the FMID Update recommends promotion of mixed-use and mixed-income developments, specifically by allowing new residential uses north of Lake Street within the FMID. Implementation of this strategy would reverse a long-standing moratorium on residential development in this area. The City intends to introduce amendments to the Chicago Zoning Ordinance in March 2021 in order to revise the Kinzie Corridor Overlay District (the Kinzie Corridor Overlay District is generally bounded by West Hubbard Street on the north, North Halsted Street on the east, West Wayman Street and West Carroll Avenue on the south, and North Ogden Avenue on the west) to allow for residential uses.

The FMID Update also recommends prioritizing pedestrian safety and the pedestrian experience in the FMID. To further that goal, the Department of Planning and Development will evaluate portions of Fulton Market and West Randolph Street for designation as Pedestrian Streets (“P-Streets”). The P-Street designation prohibits the establishment of certain auto-oriented uses such as drive-through facilities, gas stations, residential storage warehouses, and strip centers. The P-Street designation further imposes certain pedestrian-oriented design standards on new development.

The P-Street designation also extends the benefits made available through the City’s Transit-Served Location (“TSL”) ordinance to properties that are located within 2,640 feet of a CTA station or other eligible transit service, where the maximum distance would otherwise be 1,320 feet. If the new P-Street designations are approved, proximity to the Clinton, Morgan, Grand, and Ashland CTA station entrances and the Ashland Avenue bus service could mean that the majority of properties situated on Fulton Market and Randolph Street within the district could take advantage of TSL benefits. For example, required parking ratios may be reduced by 50-100%. In the -3 zoning districts, developments may enjoy increased maximum height, greater residential density via reduced minimum lot area per dwelling unit standards, and an increase in maximum allowable floor area through a TSL floor area bonus.

For more information regarding the FMID Plan Update, contact any Elrod Friedman LLP attorney.