A sprawling piece of land next to the Calumet River in southeast Chicago used to house the steel industry. But the area has been vacant since the steel plants in the area began to close in the 1970s and ’80s—largely because the industry left the ground so contaminated that no developer can afford to clean it up.
A new project aims to bring jobs back to the neighborhood by building down instead of up. The Invert Chicago, “a subsurface real estate complex,” is designed to be built 300 feet below the surface. It avoids disturbing the contaminated soil, and has a second advantage: When you go that deep underground, the ambient temperature is a steady 60 degrees, even in subzero Chicago winters or sweltering summers.