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A Final Farewell to the Gray Block at 500 N. Milwaukee Avenue

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If you have emerged from the Grand/Milwaukee Blue Line station lately, you surely have noticed that scaffolding has covered the sidewalk on the northwest corner of the busy six point intersection at Halsted Street. The scaffolding and banners for Alpine Demolition Services signal that we are about to finally say goodbye to the triangular block of buildings along the corner at 500 N. Milwaukee Ave. Developers have been eyeing the block of long vacant two-three story buildings all painted a flat metal gray since the pre-recession boom years, beginning with a project called Grand Station, a 12 story condo building designed by Pappageorge/Haymes which never ending up moving forward. As the dust settled from the real estate crash, a new vision for apartments was drawn up for the block and unveiled in February of 2013. The present concept includes a four story building at the corner of Grand and Milwaukee with a 14 story high-rise to the west, set along Green Street which runs through the center of the property. After changing hands a couple of times, the project has Akara Partners at the helm and they are now full steam ahead. As the ship metal block is about to be scrapped, let's take one last walk around it.

Akara is also currently constructing the 11 story beige tower at 707 North Wells and recently began the approval process for a five story, 47 unit apartment building at Milwaukee and Elston Avenues designed by bKL Architecture. The projects along Milwaukee Avenue at Grand as well as at Elston are a part of a much larger mini-boom in Transit Oriented Development concepts that is occurring along the Blue Line between Downtown and Logan Square, some of which will likely add to what is shaping up to be a very busy construction season in 2015.

But wait, there's more! Just a few blocks to the south along Halsted Street, construction of a 28 story apartment tower for the southeast corner of Halsted and Lake may soon begin. A red mobile crane belonging to Revcon Construction has since been delivered to the site. Revcon is one of two very prominent caisson foundation contractors in Chicago, so it appears that construction is indeed imminent on this one after all. Once the concrete flows for the caissons on this tower, it will be the first official high-rise construction start of 2015.

Shawn Ursini

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·Previous Halsted and Lake coverage [Curbed Chicago]