The West Loop's unprecedented building boom is gaining ground as developer the Marquette Companies proposes another project closer to Union Park and the city's Near West Side.

On Thursday, the Chicago Plan Commission approved the developer's proposal calling for a 12-story, 210-unit rental building at 140 N. Ashland Avenue. If approved by the Committee on Zoning and the full City Council, the $52 million project would become Marquette's fourth apartment development in the area. 

The latest project is part of Marquette's larger strategic push west of Fulton Market, explained Marquette president and chief investment officer Darren Sloniger at Thursday's Plan Commission hearing. 

The project at 140 N. Ashland will rise just west of Union Park and just south of the Ashland Green Line station.Marquette Companies/Brininstool + Lynch

"The goal is really to activate this neighborhood and continue to provide great amenities for residents," Sloniger told the commissioners. "One of the things we noticed was that a lot of the neighborhood residents had a pedestrian pattern going east and not west. We felt like Union Park and the Ashland station were underutilized."

The latest development will rise directly across from the Ashland CTA station at a site currently occupied by the Women's Treatment Center substance abuse facility. The pandemic took a toll on the nonprofit rehab center, which will move into a smaller facility elsewhere, according to Sloniger.

"When we were approached by the Women's Treatment Center, there was no question we wanted to jump at this opportunity," Sloniger said. "For me, this completes the picture of what we're trying to accomplish in the neighborhood." 

The existing five-story building (left) will be incorporated into the new apartment complex.Marquette Companies/Brininstool + Lynch

Under the plan, a five-story building at the southern portion of the property will be preserved and converted into apartments. The three-story structure on the north side of the parcel will be demolished for a new 12-floor residential building designed by Brininstool + Lynch. The project will feature ground-floor and below-grade parking, and 32 affordable-rate apartments will be located on site.

In 2019, Marquette delivered the 14-story, 263-unit apartment project at 180 N. Ada Street known as The Mason. In September 2020, the Naperville, Illinois-based developer simultaneously broke ground on two Randolph Street developments totaling more than 500 units. 

The 26-story tower under construction at 1400 W. Randolph (the former site of restaurant BellyQ) is on track to deliver 278 apartments. One block west, work continues on the 11-story, 242-unit project at 1454 W. Randolph. Both of these developments are expected to open in early 2022.

The 26-story apartment tower currently under construction at 1400 W. Randolph Street. Jay Koziarz/Urbanize Chicago

Additionally, Marquette has secured a deal to bring its own offices along with a 49-room boutique hotel to an existing five-story industrial building at 1436 W. Randolph, according to Sloniger.

The Marquette Companies isn't the only investor eyeing the West Loop/Near West Side border. At the 1300 block of W. Carroll Avenue, prolific developer Sterling Bay is demolishing the former Archer Daniels Midland silos for a yet-to-be-revealed redevelopment plan.

Further west, Brinshore-Michaels has city approval for a 12-story, 96-unit mixed-income project at the corner of Lake Street and Damen Avenue. The site is located across from the long-discussed Damen CTA Green Line station, which is currently slated to finally break ground this summer and open in mid-2023.

With so much activity in the pipeline, it's perhaps no surprise that developers were pushing to demolish a historic 1892 tied house at the corner of Lake Street and Ogden Avenue. The city stepped up and granted that property preliminary landmark status earlier this month.

A diagram showing Marquette's five properties at 140 N. Ashland, 180 N. Ada, and 1400, 1436, 1454 W. Randolph Street.Marquette Companies/Brininstool + Lynch