Right now at the corner of Hubbard and Wells, steps from River North's burgeoning tech-nexus Merchandise Mart, you'll find a lot that until now has been considered unworthy of development due to the elevated CTA tracks that curve abruptly through it. This Tuesday night, developer Centrum Partners and designer Hirsch Associates presented to the River North community their proposal to turn that empty land into two separate glass-and-steel buildings. On the west side of the property, a 22-story apartment building with just over 190 units. To the east, nestled up snugly against that elevated rail bend, a 9-story office tower curved to match it. Both buildings would have retail space at ground level, which will itself be trimmed with new sidewalks, lighting, landscaping, and some kind of public art installation at the corner.
The plans for the office tower include a private rooftop space, and the apartment tower also includes standard upscale amenities like a dog run, a pool, ample indoor bike storage, and an open rooftop area. The 93 parking spaces make up floors 2 through 5 of the apartment tower and will be available to tenants of either building. The retail offering on the ground floor includes 2 full-service restaurant spaces, and since the storefronts will be beneath those L tracks, loads of lighting will be installed to make the place "safer and more hospitable."
Perhaps in order to woo the concerned River North residents, known to be abrasive toward new developments of any kind in their near-downtown community, the pitch was enthusiastic and loaded at both ends with the potential project's benefits to the community and local economy. New crosswalk and traffic signaling would be installed, new lighting and activity would make the corner feel much safer, and future tenancy would net the city $600,000 a year in real estate taxes and over $800,000 in yearly sales taxes. The developers will even chip in $1.2 million to the CTA in the form of "improvement bonuses" to tune up the rail tracks and stanchions on the property, on top of the $1.4 million going to the city's affordable housing fund in exchange for the zoning board's mercy during the Planned Development process.
Concerns from neighbors in attendance were mainly focused on noise (don't worry, the developers have contracted "acoustical consultants" to mitigate any sound amplification from the L tracks), parking (don't worry, the 93 parking spaces is aggressively low for 190 units and 45ksqft of office space and cars will enter the garage from the alley, not the street), and a general sense of apartment dwellers being unsavory citizens who only want to go to bars and drink (don't worry, market conditions favor apartments, but if that changes they could just convert the building to condos).
·Residential & Office Towers Planned For Tricky River North Lot [Curbed Chicago]
·Mapping the Parking Lots That Need to be Developed Pronto [Curbed Chicago]
·Previous River North coverage [Curbed Chicago]