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Plan Commission Gives Blessing to Two Near West Developments

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It's time to bid farewell to a pair of Near West Side surface lots. Highest and best use is set to win out, at long last. According to the Sun-Times, the city's planning agency (The Chicago Plan Commission) has endorsed a controversial 22-story office tower at 625 W Adams (though we never quite grasped the controversy— Aesthetics? Obstruction of views? Seems to us you could do far worse on both counts). Dubbed the Old St. Pat's Plan because it's on church land, the tentative approval awaits full council support. Assuming that's on its way, the church, working with developers Alter Group and White Oak Realty Partners, will have its tower complete with shared garage parking and extra space for outreach operations.

At the same time, the Plan Commission approved changes to a long-standing proposal for a two-acre lot at 645 W Madison. Developer Philip Mappa has been trying to court office tenants for nine years now, and, with stiffened competition from developments like 625 W Adams, it got to the point where Mappa began lobbying for permission to build apartments. The Plan Commission has sympathized with the request, and Mappa can now move forward with housing. Previously, up to 1.5 million square feet of office space was permitted for the site (translating to around 50 stories). But, in a February Sun-Times article, Mappa said he'd build residential less intensively. He also said fanciful things about wanting to build a casino here, but acknowledged the tricky politics of such an endeavor. The above rendering is for the old office concept. Mappa plans to hire a new architect within the next couple months, so expect a complete re-do. All-in-all, it's encouraging to know that treatments are on the way for the area's unsightly pockmarks.
·Office high-rise by Old St. Pat's wins backing [Sun-Times]
·Hedging on W. Loop [Sun-Times]
·Office Tower & Hotel Proposals Heading for More Scrutiny [Curbed Chicago]