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Big Changes Are Happening on This Block in River North

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Big changes are underway on a small block in River North at Superior and LaSalle Streets. The Howard Johnson Inn, one of two kitschy mid-century motels along LaSalle Street is now undergoing demolition in anticipation for the bKL-designed 720 North LaSalle project about to take its place. The 38 story tower will have 298 apartments and will be set into the middle of the block. The positioning of the tower allows for a small pocket park to be included in the plan on the west end of the site along Wells Street with the structured parking podium flanking the tower's east side along LaSalle. The podium will have street level retail and 114 parking spaces topped with a roofdeck and swimming pool.

Over the weekend, crews from Heneghan Wrecking Company approached the halfway point through the demolition of the two building motel complex. The main building of which was arranged in a C-shape formation around an open air parking lot, with open air corridors to reach the majority of the rooms, typical of this era of motel design. The main building also featured Cafe Luna on the ground floor of its LaSalle Street frontage, a small retro diner-like establishment complete with tiled walls and stools alongside a counter. For those already missing this little piece of architectural kitsch, we still have the Ohio House Motel just down the street (for now).

Meanwhile, the property next door at 707 North Wells Street is seeing an 11 story building by Akara Partners on the rise. The 51 unit rental building's concrete core has surpassed the 4th floor and should begin moving quickly towards topping out once the more complicated parking levels are complete. A stamped brick pattern has emerged on the northern shear wall facing the future pocket park. It had been mentioned that the building received a redesign after 720 and its neighboring open space was unveiled and only time will tell if this faux brick wall receives the River North Beige treatment that has been shown in previous renderings.

At 162 West Superior, just across the street to the north, The Ricci & Company building awaits future movement on the Studio Dwell designed 16 story condo project that was announced last year but has since gone quiet. The ultra luxurious and ultra modern design was to include only 8 units. Ricci, one of the last industrial users remaining from the old days of River North meanwhile continues to sell nuts and sweets out of the existing building.

Shawn Ursini

·Demolition of River North's Retro Howard Johnson Underway [Curbed Chicago]
·New Apartment Tower Cleared to Replace River North HoJo's [Curbed Chicago]