Bringing New Life to the North Side: Lincoln Yards and the Salt Shed

Lincoln Yards and The Salt Shed: Unique Developments on Chicago’s North Side

Along the banks of the Chicago River on the city’s North Side, new developments are arising that have the potential to revitalize this former industrial area. A tour during NAIOP’s CRE.Converge showcased two projects that are part of this effort.

Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards is a massive new $6 billion mixed-use project that will eventually span 53 acres of mostly vacant land on either side of the river in the North Branch Industrial Corridor.

“This is Chicago’s once-in-a-generation development,” said Daniella Hemsley, Sterling Bay’s vice president of leasing.

Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards will eventually span 14 million square feet of mixed-use development across 53 acres.

When completed in about 10 years, Lincoln Yards will feature more than 14 million square feet of commercial and residential space. This will include 6,000 residential units and 21 acres of parks and public space, along with improvements to transportation and infrastructure. Additionally, construction of Lincoln Yards is expected to generate more than 23,000 jobs.

Lincoln Yards’ first building, which will open in early 2023, is an eight-story, 320,000-square-foot life science facility. According to Dr. Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay’s director of life sciences, properties that cater to science and research are a crucial focus of the development.

 “One of the things that Chicago and Illinois want to do is to raise Chicago’s profile as a major life sciences market,” she said. “We possess all the key demand drivers for life sciences to be highly successful here, with the exception of an adequate supply of Class A lab space. We’re definitely creating our own submarket here.”

Lincoln Yards will eventually include 2.5 million square feet of life science space, including a million square feet of lab space.

About a mile away, R2 and Blue Star Properties teamed up on a noteworthy adaptive-reuse project to transform a former storage facility for Morton Salt into an indoor/outdoor music venue. The Salt Shed, which began hosting concerts this summer featuring artists such as Jason Isbell, Fleet Foxes and Death Cab for Cutie, is expected to start hosting indoor performances in the winter of 2023. At full buildout, it will feature a 30,000-square-foot indoor concert venue and 60,000 square feet of leasable office and commercial space.

The Salt Shed is an adaptive-reuse project that transformed a 1930s-era salt warehouse into a concert venue.

“We think this is the most iconic adaptive-reuse redevelopment project going on in Chicago right now,” said Jason Trailov, R2’s principal and director of asset management. “This is going to be one of the best indoor-outdoor small-format concert venues in Chicago, and maybe in the entire country.”

Traylor said R2 initially sourced the investment opportunity in 2016. It took two years to close the $15 million sale from Morton Salt. Since that time, renovation work has cost around $40 million.

Check out this feature story from the Fall issue of Development magazine for an in-depth look at The Salt Shed project.

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This post is brought to you by JLL, the social media and conference blog sponsor of NAIOP’s CRE.Converge 2022. Learn more about JLL at or

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