Plans to bring the midwest's first dedicated professional esports facility to Bronzeville got a boost on Thursday after the Chicago Plan Commission voted to approve the $30 million project.

Dubbed Surge Esports Stadium, the proposal would transform the 2500 block of South Wabash Avenue with a 106,000-square-foot complex for watching and broadcasting organized multiplayer video gaming as well as virtual reality gaming for non-professionals.

The entertainment complex will be developed and operated by Scott Greenberg and Chris Lai of Smash Interactive LLC. The plan incorporates an existing timber loft building at 2540 S. Wabash (home to Kozy's bike shop) and constructs a 73,000-square-foot building on the vacant truckyard next door.

Although the new two-story building is window-less precast concrete by design, its exterior features different textures, angles, and perforations to bring visual interest to the site.

"A three-dimensional screening element creates the opposite of a blank wall," explained architect Jackie Koo, founder of KOO LLC. "[It] gives an energetic identity to the building."

The development includes a merchandise store, food and beverage options, and a green roof with solar panels. Roughly 90 parking spaces are provided, and the site is three blocks from the Cermak-McCormick Place CTA Green Line stop.

Maurice Cox, Commissioner of Chicago's Department of Planning and Development, said he was "fascinated" by the project and eager to see how it will evolve and create new opportunities for Near South Side residents. 

"Historically [esports] were located in the suburbs, and that means only certain young people were getting ahead in this technology-driven format," said Cox. "It's wonderful to see it in an urban context." 

With the Chicago Plan Commission's support, the development will still need to go before the city's Zoning Committee and the full Chicago City Council for final approvals. 

The team behind Surge Esports Stadium hopes to break ground later this year and open the facility in 2022.

Chicago Department of Planning Development