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River Point Developer Presents Plans at Community Meeting

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To update our coverage of River Point, we attended yesterday's community meeting, hosted by Ald. Brendan Reilly. A rep from developer Hines Interests was on hand to discuss plans for the site, located at 444 W. Lake, and take questions from community members. Unfortunately, the presentation side of the meeting was rather abbreviated with very little new information provided. Here's what we did find out: Hines recently closed on the transaction that will finance the project. The timetable is still uncertain and a general contractor has not yet been hired. But when construction does begin, work will be broken up into two phases. Phase one will involve the overbuild of the site and is expected to take 13 months. In the second phase, work will take place on the tower portion and last around 23 months. Expect highly-detailed materials similar to 300 North LaSalle, another Pickard Chilton-designed building, also developed by Hines.

The only access to the 1.5-acre park will be via a stairwell (and elevators, for ADA-compliance) on Lake. The lack of a point of entry from the north has the effect of isolating the park and eliminating a pedestrian short cut between Canal and Lake. Pedestrians will be able to access the 470 feet of new riverwalk below the park from the north, but they'll be forced to cross the railroad tracks to do so. Another unfortunate element of the project is the existence of a virtually blank wall along Lake. Perhaps the developer can be pressured into mitigating the bleakness of the wall with artwork or green elements similar to those which cover the side of the building along the riverwalk. Lastly, for all the preservation-minded folks out there, the city has agreed to dismantle a Prairie-style bridgehouse currently on the site and reconstruct it in another location. Overall, public sentiment toward the project was generally favorable with some expressing concerns over the ability of Canal to handle increased pedestrian traffic resulting from the development.
·Financing in Place at 444 West Lake, Groundbreaking Soon to Follow [Curbed Chicago]