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West Loop Tower May Be First Highrise Construction of 2016

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The year is coming to a close but it looks like 2016's first high-rise construction start might be in the West Loop. Last week, a 30-story, 308-unit apartment tower from developer Related Midwest was awarded a foundation permit. The permit now clears the way for a long awaited high-rise to move forward on the vacant site. A 27-story building was first approved in June of 2005 as part of a larger development plan which included the renovation of the older warehouse building to the east into student housing known as the Automatic Lofts. The original high-rise proposal was to be a postmodern design crowned with an angled mansard roof rising to approximately 340 feet in total height. While the rest of the block did move forward with redevelopment, the condo tower never began construction and was subsequently cancelled as the recession set in. In February of this year, it was announced that Related Midwest had acquired the development site and was moving forward with the current design drawn up by the New York architecture firm of Morris Adjmi, while using local office of GREC Architects to serve as the architect of record. The design includes a shift from postmodern to modern, with a glass and metal tower perched above a parking podium rising to slightly above 330 feet, just below the peak of the original project's decorative roofline. The large parking podium will maintain the ratio of 1.11 spaces per unit as specified in the original planned development, and will be positioned towards the rear of the property facing the Eisenhower Expressway to the south. The podium roof would then have a amenity deck featuring an outdoor swimming pool. Because the new design had fit largely into the parameters of the already approved planned development, modification of the existing zoning was not needed and the project was allowed to proceed through the use of an administrative amendment.

The clock now ticks for construction to begin. Will this tower on Van Buren Street or the project at 640 North Wells Street on the site of the recently demolished Ed Debevic's carry the title of 2016's first new major construction start? We should have our answer very soon.

Shawn Ursini

·New construction permit [Chicago Cityscape]
·Is This West Loop Apartment Tower Back From the Dead? [Curbed Chicago]