With many people still working from home, there have been a number of news stories on what will happen to near-empty office buildings in the Loop. In early January, the Board of Trade building was seized by its lender. In a post-pandemic world, will we be seeing more and more of these buildings converted for residential use? That is exactly what might happen with the city’s LaSalle Street Reimagined initiative, which is hoping owners fill the nearly 5 million square feet of vacant commercial space with mixed-use developments. Some proposals on the table are calling for new student housing, apartments, and hotels. It harkens back to Chicago’s industrial past when former factories got a new lease on life, whether it was a structure that once manufactured electric tools or stored phone equipment. While their original functions might have changed, the following former industrial spaces for sale all got a second chance. 

3312 W Belle Plaine Ave #3, $899,000

In the middle of a tree-lined street in the Irving Park neighborhood is a four-story brick building from 1913 that looks as though it was always intended for residential use. Architects Holabird & Roche created this generic Georgian design to blend in with its surroundings, the wish of the Chicago Telephone Company that commissioned the firm to create more than 20 exchanges to house cable and switchboard equipment across the city and suburbs. With 4,600 square feet of living space, this massive four-bedroom, three-bathroom loft feels like a single-family home with its multiple levels, two parking spaces, and a private patio. 

5823 N Ravenswood Ave APT 205, $425,000

Once home to Atkins Industries, a manufacturer of scrollsaw and various electrical tools, this two-story brick building located across from Rosehill Cemetery in Edgewater was converted to 32 residential units in 1997. Listed at $425,000, the two-bedroom, two-bathroom loft is a flexible live/work space that overlooks an interior courtyard. A colorful mural by local artist Mitch Reardon livens up the former industrial space full of trusses and skylights. It’s located one block from the long-awaited Peterson Ridge Metra train station, scheduled to open sometime in 2023. 

222 S Racine Ave APT 307, $450,000

Before the West Loop became the vibrant and popular neighborhood it is today, in the early 2000s this nondescript brick building was converted into a condo development. It was originally the garage that housed the delivery horses and trucks for the city’s afternoon paper, the Chicago Daily News. Listed at $450,000 (with $586 monthly HOA fees), this two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit has a lot of character, from its exposed brick walls to the terracotta ceilings. It comes with lots of closet space and full-size washer and dryer.

2614 N Clybourn Ave APT 402, $449,900

MCZ Development converted this 1920s four-story building, once home to an insulation company, into 61 loft condominiums in 1995. Located on the edge of Lincoln Park, the two-bedroom, two-bathroom penthouse duplex has one of the largest layouts in what’s now called Riverbend Lofts. Its dramatic 24-foot ceilings and southern-facing windows make the interior of the two-story unit feel bright and airy. Not only does it have great views of the city skyline, but this home is walkable to all the shopping on Clybourn and many public transportation options.

130 S Canal St APT 424, $372,000

Metropolitan Place was built in the late 1940s by the Florsheim Shoe Company, which used the space for corporate offices, showrooms, and custom-shoe production.  Nearly demolished for a skyscraper in the late 1980s, the mid-rise “went condo” 25 years ago. On and off the market for almost a year, the price for this two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit has dropped from $475,000 to $372,000. Not only do residents have their own outdoor space, but the original sleek horseshoe design brings in lots of natural light to the interior. It’s conveniently located across from Union Station and everything else Chicago’s Loop has to offer.