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CHICAGO-Although manufacturing zoning would seem to be a significant obstacle, speculators have continued to have visions of retail or other uses in a 53-acre area along the Kennedy Expressway, south of Addison Street. City officials are responding by designating the area a planned manufacturing district, effectively declaring it off limits to developers looking to bring anything but industrial uses.

The proposed planned manufacturing district has won the support of 22 of the 34 businesses operating in it, according to Nora Curry of the Department of Planning and Development, with seven objecting. The 34 businesses employ 900, according to the department, which notes jobs created by industrial users pay “living wages.”

Those supporting the measure at two public meetings said in addition to more traffic from retail development, the city’s North Side already lacks modern industrial buildings. Land costs are relatively high on the North Side, Curry notes, and the vacancy rate in the proposed district is a “very low” 6%.

The planned manufacturing district, which would be the city’s 14th, was recently endorsed by the plan commission. However, the Kennedy planned manufacturing district would have the lowest floor-area ratio, at 1.5. In the Chicago/Halsted Corridor, five to seven sf can be built on a square foot of property.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. has helped increase traffic at the nearby Addison Mall, redeveloping a former Montgomery Ward store at Addison Street and Sacramento Avenue with a 50,000-sf addition and three-story parking garage. However, owners supporting the planning manufacturing district say the additional traffic increases their shipping costs. The city adds it has spent $7 million on infrastructure improvements in the area since 1999.

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