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Revised Lathrop plan ditches ‘signature’ buildings for more conservative design

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A number of changes were made to the redevelopment plan to secure federal historic tax credits

A revised plan to redevelop Chicago Housing Authority’s 32-acre historic Julia C. Lathrop Homes into a massive mixed-use, mixed-income campus along the north branch of the Chicago River broke cover at yesterday’s meeting of the Chicago Plan Commission. Though approved by the Commission in February 2016 and the City Council the following month, the original proposal failed to impress the United States National Park Service who criticized the plan for changing too much while preserving too little.

The threat of losing millions of dollars in federal historic preservation tax credits sent the redevelopment team, headed by real estate giant Related Midwest, back to the drawing board. The newly revised plan is consistent with an earlier report that the so-called “signature gateway buildings” designed by bKL Architecture were scrapped to preserve Lathrop’s original administration building at Clybourn and Diversey as well as an existing apartment block at Damen and Diversey known as S-03.

Their replacements—a pair of new mixed-use, six-story buildings shown below as S101 and S102—will be constructed further south on the site. Still designed by bKL, the revised structures will be more contextual with the scale, massing, masonry facades, and window spacing of Lathrop’s original architecture.

A planned vehicular connection to Damen Avenue has also been eliminated. With Lathrop’s overall unit count remaining at 1,208, the changes do not require a vote by the Chicago Plan Commission or City Council.