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Proposed Holy Name tower would become Chicago’s sixth tallest skyscraper

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The supertall One Chicago Square development would replace Holy Name Cathedral’s block-sized parking lot

Goettsch Partners/HPA

A developer took the wraps of its ambitious plan to turn the large parking lot across from Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral in River North into a $740 million mixed-use complex anchored by two very tall and thin skyscrapers. Rising to a height of up to 1,011 feet, the taller of the pair would become the Windy City’s sixth tallest building if approved and constructed as proposed.

Goettsch Partners/HPA

Dubbed One Chicago Square, the development would replace the entire city block bordered by State, Superior, Dearborn, and Chicago—save only the single-story hold-out building at the site’s southwest corner. Initial plans call for 850 residential units, boutique offices, a grocery store, event space, and a high-end health club.

Despite its considerable height, the project seeks a relatively modest Floor Area Ratio of 15.98. This means that while indeed tall, One Chicago Square is not nearly as dense as some of its neighbors. By comparison, Chicago’s John Hancock Center has four times the square footage despite being just around 100 feet taller.

“By going tall and slender, we open up a lot of light and air for everyone around us,” explained Jim Letchinger of JDL Development. Above the ninth floor, the two 45- and 76-story residential towers occupy just 27 percent of One Chicago Square’s total site area.

The majority of the project’s 900 parking spaces would be located below grade with 225 reserved exclusively for Holy Name parishioners. To avoid curbside disruptions, roughly 50 percent of the development’s ground floor will be dedicated to loading, drop-offs, and ramps to off street parking. Most vehicular traffic will enter and exit the complex on Dearborn though plans also show a resident only access point on Superior. One Chicago Square also benefits from an abundance of public transit options.

Goettsch Partners/HPA

Level two will contain a yet-to-be-named organic grocery store. Floors three through seven will include retail parking cleverly concealed behind residential units. Levels eight through nine will be occupied by a “lifestyle” brand fitness and spa facility. Members of the yet-to-be-revealed health club will also have access to One Chicago Square’s landscaped pool deck.

An elevated event space with an open-air promenade is proposed directly across from Holy Name’s stained glass window and aims to capture some business from church events such as weddings. The tallest building is also set back from State Street to create a public plaza as well as add some breathing room between the tower and the landmarked cathedral.

Big sites generally tend to produce large developments and One Chicago Square hopes to make a major impact on both the Chicago skyline and River North’s streetscape. Despite being rather bulky, the project’s block-sized base is thoughtfully wrapped in active use and forgoes a precast concrete facade for honest-to-goodness stone.

Penned by Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) and Goettsch Partners, the design gets considerably more airy and elegant as it rises with strong visual emphasis on verticality thanks to aluminum fins set within its glassy facade. A series of spiraling setbacks on the taller of the two towers further reinforces its slender appearance.

A landscaped plaza would create some distance between the 76-story tower and Holy Name Cathedral.
Goettsch Partners/HPA

In addition to providing neighborhood amenities, perhaps the project’s biggest public benefit is adding a currently exempt property to Chicago’s tax rolls. According to JDL, One Chicago Square is expected to bolster local coffers in excess of $8 million each year. The development will also create “thousands” of temporary construction jobs and 400 permanent positions.

The team says it is working with CDOT and the alderman’s office to look into removing on-street parking on surrounding streets to free up more traffic lanes. A portion of the developer’s contribution into the City’s density bonus system will also be invested in ways to improve circulation on Chicago Avenue.

One Chicago Square will comply with the Affordable Requirement Ordinance (ARO) by building 44 affordable rate housing units off-site and will pay $7.7 million into the City’s affordable housing fund.

A rendering from State and Superior showing the event space topped by offices.
Goettsch Partners/HPA

Hosted by 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins and the River North Residents Association, last night’s public meeting was the first step in an approval process that could see the design evolve based on feedback from both the community and its elected official.

While the development team is looking for a zoning change via the Planned Development process, the site’s underlying DX Downtown Mixed-Use designation already supports a tall and dense project. Provided PD approvals go smoothly, the team hopes to break ground in mid to late 2018 with delivery expected in 2021.

The view from Dearborn and Chicago.
Goettsch Partners/HPA