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A Handful of New High-Rise Projects Are Moving Forward

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It was a busy meeting for the Chicago Plan Commission this month, which included the approvals of the Lathrop Homes redevelopment, a Noble charter school on the southwest side, as well as a handful of high-rise proposals. These high-rises include a 24-story building at 301-331 West Illinois Street, a 28-story building at 1010-1028 North Dearborn Street, the redevelopment of the old Edgewater Hospital, a 9-story transit oriented development at 708-712 West Grand Avenue, a modification of Studio Gang's Solstice on the Park in Hyde Park, and the first phase of the redevelopment of Lake Meadows. Of these five larger projects which went before the Plan Commission yesterday, three of them will be built on sites that are currently being used primarily for parking.

Starting in River North, the project at 301-331 West Illinois Street would replace a surface parking lot adjacent to Assumption Catholic Church, a church that was originally founded in 1881 and served Italian immigrants who lived in the neighborhood. While the church and the neighboring priory building has stood the test of time, the remainder of the block directly to the east between the alley and Illinois Street has been used as surface parking for many years. The current plan is to replace the parking lot with a (roughly) 300-foot tall, 24-story residential tower with 245 apartments and 109 parking spaces, 35 of which would be dedicated for the church's use.

Assumption Catholic Church, who owns the parking lot, entered into a development agreement with the John Buck Company, who will develop the tower designed by local firm FitzGerald Associates Architects. The project would also include a single story addition to the attached priory building to the west currently used by the Order of Friar Servants, allowing for additional housing and better accessibility within the older structure for the aging members. The gardens beside the church and priory are also being redeveloped as well.

The unit mix within the tower would range from studios to three bedrooms, but is heavily weighted towards smaller unit sizes, with an overall average of about 750 square feet each. No affordable housing would be located on site, but a payment of approximately $1 million will be made to the affordable housing found under the 2007 rules, as this project was proposed prior to the new affordable housing standards currently in place.

The 15,657-square-foot parking lot site has a current base zoning of DX-5, which will remain as the underlying zoning within the planned development, with the developer using density bonuses to achieve the desired floor area ratio (FAR).

Previous 301-331 West Illinois Street coverage >>

Further north, another surface parking lot at 1010-1028 North Dearborn Street is also expect to disappear, as a luxury condominium building is planned to rise approximately 351 feet, and 28 stories on the site. The building is being proposed by Lexington Homes with design produced by Pappageorge Haymes Partners. The surface parking lot, owned by the neighboring Ruth Page Center for the Arts, is wedged between their four-story building built in 1926 and a vintage 15-story apartment building built in 1929 at 1030 North Dearborn Street. The new tower, which would be the tallest on the block, would provide much needed funds for the non-profit organizations who operate the arts center and the neighboring Palette and Chisel Academy to the south. The proposed planned development boundary would include the academy, the art center and the redeveloped parking lot.

The units would average a bit more than 2,900 square feet in size, and the parking total would be greater than a 1:1 ratio because of the luxury nature of the units generally has market demands of greater than one space per unit. The Ruth Page Center will receive control over 22 parking spaces within the garage. The parking would be accessed from Dearborn Street, and while the parking levels come up to the front of the tower, the parking would be screened and would match of the roofline of the neighboring historic Ruth Page Building, a small change from the initial plans which had a slightly larger podium.

The site is currently zoned RM-5, but is directly across the street from the downtown zoning classifications under the present boundaries, which may expand outward as per a very recent announcement. The developers are seeking to rezone the site to RM 6.5, the highest of the neighborhood residential zoning classifications, while entering into a planned development.

Previous 1010-1028 North Dearborn coverage >>

In Andersonville, the long awaited redevelopment of the Edgewater Medical Center is finally moving forward. The hospital, which has been vacant since the 1990's, is a complex of buildings in the 5700 block of North Ashland Avenue between Hollywood Avenue to the south and Edgewater Avenue to the north. A set of alleys divides the buildings of the complex, forming a T-intersection in the middle of the buildings. The north-south alley paralleling Ashland Avenue has an extension of the original hospital structure bridging over it for a full eight stories. This connection, as well as any structures to the west of the alley are to be demolished and replaced with a public park. The 0.89 acre replacement park to the west of the alley would span the block between Hollywood and Edgewater Avenues and the existing east-west alley through the block would be cut off and turned to the south, exiting on Hollywood Avenue on the western edge of the new park space.

The buildings to the east of the alley will be preserved, including the original hospital structure at Hollywood and Ashland. The original building will have an exterior renovation that will be sensitive to the historic nature of the building, including a recladding of a later addition which vertically extended the building from six to eight floors. The recladding would reintroduce a cornice line to the top of the structure. Immediately to the north, the structures date to the 1940s, with the northernmost nine-story building to receive a new glass curtain wall facade facing to the east along Ashland Avenue. Green roofs would then have extensive coverage across the tops of the modified existing buildings.

Previous Edgwater Hospital coverage >>

In River West, a nine-story transit-oriented development first announced this past summer is moving forward as well. While the modest height might be viewed as a mid-rise, officially the City of Chicago regards any building in excess of 80 feet tall to be a high-rise. Initially known as River West Flats, the 710 Grand project is being proposed by Wicker Park Apartments, Incorporated with a design by David Brininstool of Chicago based Brininstool+Lynch.

The site is approximately 315 feet to the east of the Milwaukee/Grand Blue Line Station, allowing for a reduction of the typical neighborhood parking requirement of 1:1 to a ratio of 0.4 spaces per unit, with all the parking located on floors one and two. The ground floor would contain parking at the back of the building accessed from the alley, while the front of the building would have two retail spaces flanking the entrance lobby for the residences.

The 105 residential units will be located on floors three through nine with a set back above the second floor to allow for outdoor amenity space. Synthetic stone and a terra-cotta rain screen as well as a glass curtain wall will make up the majority of the exterior, the eastern facade of which is in a highly visible location directly alongside the elevated embankment of the railroad tracks feeding Metra's Ogilvie Transportation Center serving the Union Pacific Lines.

The site is currently classified M2-3 in a pocket of industrial zoning along the railroad tracks, and the four existing buildings in the past have been used a pickle factory. The developers are seeking to rezone the site to B2-3, a neighborhood mixed commercial use while then entering into a planned development.

Previous 708-712 West Grand coverage >>

To the south in Hyde Park, Solstice on the Park, a condominium project initially approved before the recession but never began construction, is seeking a modification of the original planned development.

The building's innovative design comes from Studio Gang, who was commissioned by developer Antheus Capital specifically for creating a strikingly modern tower to rise from a highly visible location 56th Street, at the north end of Jackson Park near the Museum of Science and Industry. The original project called for 145 condominiums, but this has been swapped out for a programming switch to 250 rental apartments. While there were some early discussions of also including a hotel concept in the project modification, Solstice will remain a purely residential building.

The original design features a southern exposure of windows with an inward tilt of 71 degrees, the angle of the sun on the summer solstice. This was done to reduce solar heat gain during the summer months and while still allowing for direct sunlight in the cooler parts of the year when the sun has a lower position in the sky. The jagged facade also communicated to the outside world how many condo units were located per floor. As the pattern simplified on the way up the exterior, fewer units occupied each floor offering larger units with better views towards the top. The east and west ends of the tower are bookended with vertical concrete shear walls, structural elements the voids increasing in size over the height of the building. On higher floors, the walls take on less structural loading, allowing for less concrete to be used. This design process determined through computer modeling allows for less material to be used while providing for a truly unique facade specific to this particular building.

The integrity of the original design remains through the programming switch and density increase. The tower is now also pulled closer to 56th Street in the modified design, removing much of the setback, while the parking garage podium to the north containing 316 spaces has lowered in height. The exterior of the parking podium is now clad in brick as well, as opposed to the original design which featured a continuation of the eastern facade pattern across the garage exterior. The generous size of the garage would also include some shared parking with the 220-unit Windermere House apartment building across the street. The site now is structured parking, with cars at and below grade and in previous years before the era of urban renewal, the site was the location of the Windermere West Hotel.

To the north, the low-rise 5528 South Cornell which is also included in the planned development boundaries, is a 53-unit vintage apartment building and will be reserved exclusively for affordable housing. This affordable housing allocation wasn't required, but will be provided as a result of negotiations within the community meetings.

Previous Solstice on the Park coverage >>

Lastly, the first phase of the redevelopment of Lake Meadows is also moving forward. The large scale redevelopment was first proposed by Draper and Kramer before the recession hit and was to be redeveloped in phases starting with the shopping center in the southwest corner of the large development site along King Drive between 31st and 35th Streets.

The plan has been modified from the original concept proposed for the shopping center redevelopment, which was to replace with the suburban style strip mall with an urban context and a restored street grid. The present plan will maintain the rather suburban nature of the existing shopping center and will include new structures within the surface parking lot setting. A new single story retail building would anchor the northeast corner of 35th Street and King Drive and two new stand alone structures would replace the site of where Shore Bank and its drive-through lanes were located at the north end of the shopping center, closer to 33rd Place. Three of the existing one story retail structures will remain in some form, while directly to the east, an increase of density and introduction of mixed uses would occupy some of the shopping center site and its surface parking lots along Rhodes Avenue. The overall design of phase one is being performed by OKW Architects as well as Johnson & Lee and would contain two slender 7-story buildings right along Rhodes with 110-120 units each, as well as a large podium block of retail spanning 120,000 square feet along 33rd Place supporting two high-rise hotels of 12 stories each. The final designs of the taller buildings within this redevelopment have yet to be publicly unveiled.

Previous Lake Meadows Redevelopment >>

Shawn Ursini

·Previous Plan Commission coverage [Curbed Chicago]

Solstice on the Park

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