New plans for West Loop high rise

Shifted mass meets little opposition at community meeting

10/10/2012 10:00 PM

Bill Motchan
Contributing Reporter

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New renderings of a proposed 33-story apartment tower at Adams and Halsted now shift the building’s mass towards the Kennedy Expressway.

Renderings courtesy FitzGerald Associates Architects

Nearly 50 West Loop residents and business owners saw the revised proposal for a 33-story apartment building at 765 W. Adams Street. last Wednesday, Oct. 3. The response from the audience was largely supportive of the 351-unit tower.

The most prominent change from the original design: the tower itself will be set against the Kennedy Expressway. Originally, the full north side of the tower covered the Adams Street side. The green space on the fifth floor — which will offer residents a park and dog run — is on the Halsted Street side.

“This design reduces the canyon effect,” said Pat FitzGerald, CEO of FitzGerald Associates Architects, the project’s architect.

FitzGerald then explained the other key changes: the elimination of a health club and grocery as tenants, and a redesign of balconies to improve the exterior design.

After two or three residents voiced concern about an increase in traffic and a height inconsistent with the character of the neighborhood, nearly a dozen others offered support for the proposal. Most of those individuals, like Meli owner Theoharis, said it would be a positive for the economy of the West Loop and the City of Chicago.

“My kids live in the area,” Theoharis said. “I own a business here. And I can tell you, without traffic and a hectic atmosphere, you have no restaurants. Without restaurants, you have no residents.”

Armando Chacon, treasurer of the Mary Bartelme Park Advisory Council and a West Loop resident, echoed Theoharis’ sentiment.

“If there’s more traffic, that’s a price I’m willing to pay for growth in business in the neighborhood,” Chacon said. “I’ll pay that price to get another deli, another bakery, another specialty shop.”

These types of businesses, known as “activity generators,” look for neighborhoods with robust growth when searching for new locations, said Scott Maesel, executive managing director of Sperry Van Ness.

“Development is going to happen,” Maesel said. “It’s inevitable. I’m a resident of the West Loop, and I’m going to be dealing with parking issues, too. But development overall is a good thing.”

Supporters of the proposed tower included West Loop business owners, longtime residents, and representatives of the West Loop Community Organization, the Greektown Neighborhood Association and the West Central Chamber of Commerce.

Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. and Richard Blum, the principal of developer White Oak Realty, spoke to the tax contribution to the City of Chicago — approximately $1.4 million. By comparison, the parking lot on the site currently generates about $100,000 in taxes.

The full-time jobs the apartment tower will bring to the West Loop number about 20, with another 80 or so likely from retail tenants. During construction — a process that should take about two years — another 300 to 350 jobs would be created.

Prior to the community meeting, White Oak Realty and FitzGerald Associates took their plans to the Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development for review. The result, after some recommended revisions, was approval of the plan.

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By mike from WL
Posted: 10/11/2012 9:20 PM

I'm still waiting on a building that doesn't look like every other high-rise being thrown up in the city. And the rest of the world for that matter...