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Downtown Alderman: Wolf Point East tower will rise 660—not 750—feet

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According to Ald. Brendan Reilly the height reduction was based on River North’s traffic congestion

Despite receiving entitlements for a 750-foot, 66-story apartment tower, the developers of Wolf Point’s second phase will instead move forward with a 62-story, 660-foot building at the confluence of the Chicago River’s three branches. Taking credit for the reduction in height is 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly who, in an email blast to constituents, stated that he "asked the developers to reconsider the height, density and site coverage based upon ever-increasing traffic in River North and the fact that the Wolf Point site is landlocked." Interestingly, the number of apartment units in the Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed tower has only decreased slightly — from 707 down to 700.

Below are a summary of changes to the Wolf Point East plan, copied directly from Tuesday's 42nd Ward’s e-newsletter:

...Phase 2 will have less height, less site coverage and less density than what is allowable under PD 98 and previously approved. The allowed uses have not changed and the development will not deviate from the allowable onsite parking limits, which the Alderman insisted should be some of the lowest in all of downtown Chicago based upon proximity to public transportation and the walkable nature of River North. The following design modifications were negotiated based upon residential concerns raised at the time of initial project approval. Those include:

- Reduction of density from 1.5M square feet of FAR to 930,000 square feet of FAR

- Reduction of building height by almost 100' from 750' to +/-660'

- 38% reduction in building footprint and site coverage from 22,301 square feet to +/-13,900 square feet, providing a dramatically more open and spaceous [sic] park area

- The original site plan assumed the tower would overhang the Riverwalk, while the proposed tower pulls back from River's edge substantially, it also avoids the overhang and provides completely clear views from the Riverwalk to the sky

- The original plan also called for a café/restaurant at the Riverwalk level on East portion of site. While the proposed tower includes the café/restaurant at plaza level of East Tower making it more accessible to the public and serves more as a neighborhood amenity.

Because all three phases are encompassed by same Planned Development (PD), it is possible that the developers of Wolf Point could transfer the east tower’s unused density to the mixed-use third phase south tower. According to an updated version of the project’s PD documentation (which will be presented later this month at the Chicago Plan Commission as a courtesy to residents), Wolf Point South is still listed at its originally entitled height of 950 feet. A very unscientific eye-balling of the most recent renderings, however, suggests that number could creep past the 984-foot mark for official supertall status. Maybe.

The Plan Commission presentation will take place on Thursday, October 20 in City Hall’s 2nd floor city council chambers at 10:00 AM. In the meantime, the updated document can be viewed here in its entirety. Wolf Point East is scheduled to break ground in early 2017. The phase three south tower plan will be revisited (and very likely refined) once the second phase nears or reaches completion.

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