Commercial Lofts in Chicago

Loft spaces are now common in Chicago, with both commercial and residential lofts available throughout the city. Due to rezoning and pioneering real estate developers such as Owen Deutsch and his firm, Loft Development Corporation, lofts began to proliferate throughout Chicago.

Mr. Deutsch was an award-winning fashion photographer in Chicago during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. In the mid-60s, he brought the concept of lofts from New York City to Chicago when he embarked on a project to build out his first photography studio in Old Town. He purchased a historic four-story building located at 1759 N. Sedgwick, which was built in 1881, just 10 years after the historic Chicago fire. Mr. Deutsch purchased the property in 1968 and for the rehab project, he elected to employ a highly functional style that he had noticed artists and photographers utilizing in New York, the loft. Exemplified by high ceilings, exposed brick, gorgeous mezzanines and open spaces, this style was a perfect fit for the dramatic feel he wanted to achieve. After completing his studio, Mr. Deutsch recognized that the city afforded myriad opportunities for additional rehab projects, so he moonlighted as a real estate developer outside of his primary career as a photographer. In 1978, Mr. Deutsch founded Loft Development Corporation to manage his real estate ventures while he continued to focus on his photography business. Mr. Deutsch would go on to have a second career in real estate that would span half a century before selling his remaining commercial real estate assets in 2016 & 2017 to once again focus on photography, but this time with a focus on nature and birds.

Unused factories in commercially zoned areas became home to a variety of businesses, including galleries and office spaces. Today, the city offers a wide range of lofts for businesses and residents to enjoy. Lincoln Park, Fulton River District and Bucktown are among the neighborhoods that house some of the city’s most well-known lofts, while neighborhoods such as West Town and South Loop offer a variety of vintage and modern commercial lofts.

Chicago Neighborhoods with Commercial Lofts

South Loop offers a range of commercial and residential lofts. This neighborhood offers several vintage loft spaces that are suitable for commercial establishments, and South Loop has the advantage of being just minutes away from the main business district in the city. South Loop is also home to several of the city’s best attractions, including Museum Campus and the historic Motor Row District. River West is also a loft-heavy neighborhood in Chicago.

River West, a renovated warehouse district, is home to a variety of residential and commercial loft spaces. This trending neighborhood offers the benefit of combining residential spaces and commercial spaces in the same building, offering commercial businesses the opportunity to enjoy a loyal, local clientele among residents. River West also offers parking space, which is a big bonus in the city.

Printer’s Row offers the most concentrated number of lofts in the city. While many of the lofts are residential, commercial loft spaces are also available. The quiet neighborhood is just minutes away from the lakefront and several other attractions, including Grant Park, and the annual Printer’s Row Book Festival is held to honor the neighborhood’s history. Lofts in Printer’s Row have traditional brick combined with modern hardwoods for an open office space that is both comfortable and historic.

Notable Loft Spaces In Chicago

West Town is home to an iconic loft space in Chicago, The Universal Building. The Universal Building is a 150,000 -square -foot commercial space located just minutes away from the Loop, Chicago’s main business district, and the city’s major expressways, allowing for an easier commute to and from the city. The Universal Building offers a range of amenities, including easily accessible loading docks, secure on-site storage, and large, open office spaces for businesses.

West Town is a historic neighborhood that has been part of the city since 1837, when the city limits were originally established. West Town has evolved over time, but was once home to European immigrants. Today, the neighborhood is home to a diverse range of people, including younger people searching for new career opportunities within the neighborhood. The Universal Building is also located near several neighborhoods that are popular among young professionals, such as Wicker Park, offering business owners access to a talented workforce.

The historic Orleans Plaza, located in River North, is an eight story building that offers amenities such as covered parking, on-site storage and a 24-hour attendant. The building is a mix of timber, oversized windows and traditional masonry, and the office space is just minutes away from the train stations and expressway.

Like West Town, River North was included within Chicago’s original city limits. The neighborhood has evolved over time, and is now a center for artists and entrepreneurs. The neighborhood is particularly popular for restaurants and entertainment-related businesses.

Live/Work Lofts in Chicago

Chicago’s bustling reputation has been known to attract both the young and old, and folks from a wide range of professions. And to many who live in Chicago (old and new), lofts have become a highly coveted type of dwelling that fulfills both work and personal life into one space. What was once used and dismissed as storage, lofts have been refurbished to highlight a desired look: high ceilings, open floor plans, and industrial features such as exposed brick, steel, and wood.

Some of the popular live/work neighborhoods such as Lincoln Park and Pullman Historic District have new loft developments that sprout from historic buildings and refurbishments. Lincoln Park Condos hold a vast array of refurbished lofts that occupy spaces above area businesses and old buildings. Pullman Artspace Lofts, which has just begun construction, is located in the Pullman Historic District and was once used by the Pullman Company as worker housing.

The Pullman Historic District was recognized by the American Planning Association in 2011 as one of the Top 10 Greatest Neighborhoods. The history of this little town dates back to its conception around late 1800’s by one George M. Pullman, whose idea was to make an ideal community for the workers of his car company, Pullman’s Palace Car Company. He wanted to make the best possible living environment to increase the quality of life for his workers, with the idea that a good quality of life would result in happier and more efficient workers. This, in his mind, would lead to less strikes, higher productivity, and a better quality product.

The Historic Pullman Foundation intends to continue with this same ideal: to provide a good quality living environment to the working class. Average size of any loft is typically around 1,250 sq. feet, but can greatly vary. Lofts can range from 700 sq. feet to around 2,500 sq. feet. Interior and exterior finishes also vary, but the vast majority of lofts in the Chicago area are refurbished buildings that used to serve as warehouses or old plants. New construction seems to adhere to those same principles of high ceilings, large windows, and exposed brick.

Resources to other live/work loft spaces in the Chicago area include: