South Water Market, designed by Fugard and Knapps and built in 1925, served as the major produce distribution market in Chicago, the largest of its type at the time of construction. Six warehouses occupy the site, the longest being over 800 feet, and have matching terra cotta facades.
Nearly vacant and decaying in the 1990s, the owners and the City of Chicago sought proposals for new uses of the site. While several other proposals involved demolishing most or all of the warehouse buildings, the Enterprise Companies alone put forward a plan which incorporated the existing structures and proposed renovation. The developer then set about securing ownership of the buildings from remaining tenants, as well as successfully listing the site on the National Register and securing state-level tax incentives from the IHPA.
Completed in 2007, University Commons has 926 housing units, affordable for a variety of residents. In addition to meeting the technical and structural challenges posed by the building, this project has made a significant contribution to the revitalization of the South Loop area and provided affordable student housing to serve nearby UIC. The project has been endorsed and praised by the City of Chicago, Testa Produce and other former tenants, the Eighteenth Street Development Corporation and won an award from the National Association of Home Builders in 2007.