33-Story apartment building unveiled
Proposed property at corner of Adams and Halsted
07/18/2012 8:46 PM
A spirited—and sometimes heated—discussion took place tonight at a community meeting hosted by Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. The topic was the proposed development at 765 W. Adams Street.
The location, currently a parking lot, is directly across Halsted from Greek Islands. If approved, the $100 million development will include a retail space at ground level, several levels of parking and 351 rental apartments.
And, by the way, the building will be 33 stories tall. The developer, White Oak Realty, and architect, FitzGerald & Associates, were quick to point out that at a height of 355 feet, the 765 W. Adams property would be 95 feet shorter than Skybridge.
That distinction did little to generate enthusiasm among a half dozen West Loop residents who voiced their concerns about a potential “canyon effect” should other high-rises come forward.
One resident questioned whether the development would be consistent with “community cohesion.” Another resident said the artist’s rendition looked “visually enormous—it will stick out like a sore thumb.” Several residents expressed concern that the building would negatively impact the quality of life in the West Loop.
Responding to a barrage of resident feedback, Michael Blum, the principal of White Oak, shot back: “It is what it is—a 351-unit apartment building.”
The building height was clearly the issue of the hour. Several residents—and Alderman Burnett—inquired whether the building could be scaled down to 20 stories. Blum said it would be economically unfeasible to make it one floor shorter.
Although the City of Chicago can technically allow a 33 story building on the east side of Halsted, there is a small matter of current zoning for the block in question. It’s zoned DX5, which means the developers could build 20 stories right now with a rubber stamp from the city. However, the 33 stories they want will demand a rezoning to DX7. That will require a special review from the city and the Department of Housing and Economic Development. The latter has not yet occurred. This clearly is not how Alderman Burnett would prefer it to go. But, as Mr. Blum from White Oak said, “it is what it is.”
The building design will fit in nicely with the Greektown neighborhood, promised Pat FitzGerald, the architect. That includes a blue-and-white color scheme at street level. The apartments will average 1,000 square feet and run approximately $2,500 per month. Plus parking.
Burnett thanked the audience—about 30 residents—for attending and expressing their views. He also said, height concerns aside, the project would be good for the neighborhood, particularly from an economic perspective.
“I’ve never seen a building developed in the roughest communities, or on the Gold Coast, that didn’t benefit the community in some way,” he said.