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Mid-rise proposed for controversial Gold Coast parking lot looks to move forward

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The land at Lake Shore Drive and Banks is the neighborhood’s last undeveloped lakefront parcel

A new eight-story, 58-unit development proposed for the surface lot at the southwest corner of Banks and Lake Shore Drive in Chicago’s affluent Gold Coast neighborhood is finally looking to move forward. Last reported as a 60-dwelling development, the project appears to have cut unit count by two as it heads to the Chicago Zoning Board later this month for a series of minor variances—including permission to slash the 58 required on-site parking spaces down to 47.

Long resembling a missing tooth on North Lake Shore Drive’s otherwise continuous streetwall, the development site at 61 E. Banks has a history marked by controversy. In 1997, Developer Draper & Kramer first announced its plans for the lot, calling for a 40-story high-rise. That initial proposal drew fierce opposition from well-connected, well-funded neighbors and resulted in a lengthy legal battle and a subsequent down-zoning of the property.

While the mid-rise plan headed before the city has been drawn by the architects at Booth Hansen, the project was really shaped by two decades of court battles and compromise. Hardly a future landmark, the current proposal is pretty much the best the Gold Coast can expect given the site’s fairly restrictive RM-6.5 designation.