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Salvation Army puts big River West complex up for sale

A brown and beige building topped by a Salvation Army sign and water tower. There is an overgrown vacant site and train tracks in the foreground.

The Salvation Army facility includes a family store, warehouse, and an adult rehabilitation center. | Jay Koziarz

The site is located just steps from the massive River District megadevelopment

Looking to take advantage of Chicago’s downtown construction boom, the Salvation Army decided to unload its River West complex. The move could potentially open the 70,000-square-foot, multi-building site to mixed-use redevelopment.

The charitable organization hired brokerage firm SVN Chicago Commercial to market its block-sized campus along Grand Avenue between Union Avenue and Desplaines Street, Crain’s reported on Tuesday. The asking price was not disclosed, but the publication says the property could sell for between $30 million and $40 million.

The transit-oriented parcel is currently home to a donation warehouse, a family store, and an adult rehabilitation center. It has the potential to support more than 500,000-square feet of new development if buyers purchased extra density from the city under Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus System.

The Salvation Army parcel looks particularly attractive to investors based on its location just west of Tribune Media’s massive River District megadevelopment. Stretching from Grand to Chicago avenues, the project is slated for the newspaper’s Freedom Center printing plant and surrounding truck yards.

The waterfront site has zoning approval for up to 14 mixed-use buildings spanning 8.5 million square feet, supporting an estimated 4,100 residential units and 19,000 jobs. The northern portion of the 37-acre site was recently mentioned as a possible location for Chicago’s first casino.

Meanwhile, the area to the immediate west of the Salvation Army campus has seen its fair share of new construction thanks to its proximity to the CTA’s Grand Blue Line stop. Recent transit-oriented projects here include the 227-unit Kenect apartments and the 105-unit Seven 10 West apartments.

The Salvation Army made its decision to sell the near-downtown property after plans to renovate the aging buildings proved too expensive. The nonprofit hopes to use the proceeds from the sale to build a new, more efficient facility as close to the River West campus as possible, reported Crain’s.

A brown and beige brick building with vertical piers, rectangular windows, and a mid-block entrance. A Salvation Army truck is parked on the tree-lined street.
Jay Koziarz
The four-story structure along Desplaines would likely be redeveloped.

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