Chicago Could Have Its First Mass Timber Tower if City Council Approves

Chicago’s first mass timber building, a nine-story apartment tower, is being proposed by developer Sterling Bay. If approved by the City Council, the $50 million development could lead to widespread use of the modern building technique, which has become popular in many other North American cities.

However, Chicago will have to play catch up on mass timber construction with other cities. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 has left lingering concerns about wood-based building and a strict local code discourages mass timber construction, even as other cities have adopted and built such structures.

Since 2020, Chicago has been reworking its building codes, and they are slowly moving into better alignment with international standards. In turn, this has raised both advocates and developers hopes that they soon will be able to build mass timber structures within the City’s limits.

Sterling Bay officials say they hope to break ground by early next year and hope to have the 135 new rental unit mass timber building completed in approximately 24 months.

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