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Former Johnson Publishing Headquarters Transformed Into Residential Building

8/14/2019, noon | Updated on 8/14/2019, noon
For decades, Johnson Publishing Company was iconically headquartered in an 11-story building on South Michigan Avenue. The building, located on ...
Through a door on the top floor of the transformed high-rise at 820 S. Michigan Ave., residents can look out at Lake Michigan and the museum campus as they sit under the historic Ebony and Jet signs that are affixed to the top of the building. Photo Credit: 3L Realty

Former Johnson Publishing Headquarters Transformed Into Residential Building

BY KATHERINE NEWMAN

For decades, Johnson Publishing Company was iconically headquartered in an 11-story building on South Michigan Avenue. The building, located on 820 S. Michigan Ave., was designed by John Warren Moutoussamy and is the first and only downtown Chicago high-rise to be designed by an African American.

Johnson Publishing Company is an American publishing company that was founded in 1942 by African American businessman John H. Johnson and was headquartered in Chicago. The company is most known for publishing Ebony and Jet Magazines which were specifically created for African American readers.

In 2017, the city of Chicago added the Johnson Building to its list of city landmarks and shortly thereafter, 3L Real Estate, a leading developer of vintage real estate, took on the task of transforming the office building into 150 rental apartments.

During the renovation, 3L Real Estate attempted to salvage and repurpose as much as they could and while there wasn’t a lot there when they took over the building, they did manage to preserve some carpet and wall coverings to repurpose as mid-century modern decor and pay homage to the way the building looked when it was home to Johnson Publishing Company.

“Both as proponents of historic restoration and adaptive reuse, all of us at 3L are excited to tackle this project that is graced by the city’s front lawn,” said Joe Slezak, chief executive officer of 3L Real Estate, at the time of the renovation. “We will preserve the character of the original structure and signage while providing affordably priced options for housing in this vibrant and increasingly popular neighborhood.”

The studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units are priced on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to downtown living. The monthly apartment rental prices average from $1,495 for a studio unit to $3,600 for the three-bedroom unit. The rental prices vary depending on the what floor the unit is on, the square footage, and the view the tenant will have from inside their apartment.

While most of the inside structure of the building is completely different as residential space than it was when it was used as an office, Mr. Johnson’s private residence that he kept inside the building has remained in-tact. The one-bedroom unit is laid out just as it was when Johnson stayed there and has a perfect view of Lake Michigan.

Another iconic feature that was preserved is the Ebony and Jet signs that sit on top of the building and overlook the new outdoor terrace on the top floor.

To learn more about the building or to view viable floorplans visit www.820michigan.com.