Residents of the West Loop and other interested onlookers gathered at Merit School of Music Tuesday night to absorb the details of a "final revision" to the rental tower proposal at Green & Madison. The Gateway, as it's been known since being tied to the Mariano's retail complex a few years ago, is the long-absent tower component on the development block bounded by Halsted, Green, Monroe, and Madison. It's Sy Taxman's baby and it has progressively stepped down in height and density from a two-building proposal containing a 330' residential tower and shorter Hyatt hotel to the latest compromise— a 17-story, 175' apartment building with 167 units and 95 parking spaces. The glass "luxury" tower will also have a rooftop pool and amenity deck.
Architect Joe Antunovich and attorney Jack George defended this revision with turns at the podium, with the key stipulation that a Planned Development (PD) for a 250' hotel has already been approved for the site, and, should neighbor groups shoot down the residential alternative, that larger option can be freely pursued. The 125+ members of the audience patiently awaited the opening of the floor to questions, at which point frustrations boiled to the surface.
The testy environment was, if anything, fueled by an alderman (Walter Burnett Jr, 27th) who struggled to stay in front of the opposition's demands. Ald. Burnett didn't offer unequivocal support for the new residential proposal but made it clear it was this or a 250' hotel tower, even engaging in a little theater with developer Sy Taxman over just how much of a height reduction would be economically feasible. The initial answer, according to Taxman: absolutely none. But after whispered negotiation between the two men, Taxman came back with a 5-foot height reduction.
Other items caught the ire of attendees: the shoebox-sized units (1,077-square-foot two-beds) and predominance of studios and one-beds in the unit mix; the $7M taxpayer subsidy already directed at Mariano's; and the increased strain on traffic, schools, and other infrastructure. No surprises on that list.
Burnett also expressed his feeling that the West Loop was "hot" and he'd be happy to see development of any kind in other sections of his ward. That didn't fly with the crowd, who time and again demanded the Central Area Plan-recommended 12-story height ceiling and step-down approach for areas west of Halsted be respected by every developer. Burnett responded each time that a 12-story cap was never adopted by City Council, and thus it's in the neighborhood's best interest to accept the compromise before them. And, grudgingly, that's just what the attendees did.
·Shrunken Gateway Tower Heads to Another Public Meeting [Curbed Chicago]
·All-Residential Gateway Tower Fails to Win Hospitality [Curbed Chicago]