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West Loop apartment plan gets a haircut, adds more parking and retail

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The proposed ‘Union West’ development was re-presented to residents last night

Image courtesy of bKL Architecture

Three months after first breaking cover at a public meeting, a freshly revised plan to redevelop the West Loop block bordered by Washington, Sangamon, Morgan, and Madison into new apartments and retail was revealed to local residents. Known as Union West, the project from developers ZOM Living and Verde Communities will now feature 358 apartments and two 15-story towers—down from the previously proposed plan of 405 units and a pair of 17-story towers. A third, 8-story building along Madison Street has been reduced to a single story structure.

These changes hardly come as a surprise. While cries of “too tall” from individual residents at December’s public meeting were expected, DNAinfo reported that three of the West Loop’s considerably more influential community groups—Neighbors of West Loop, West Central Association, and the West Loop Community Organization—all had their own qualms regarding the height of the Union West proposal.

The 17-story version of Union West as presented in 2016.
Image courtesy of bKL Architecture
The latest, 15-story design.
Image courtesy of bKL Architecture

While an even earlier version of the project included 8-, 17-, and 19-story buildings and 442 apartments, that plan was chopped down to a max of 17 stories and 405 units by local community groups before ever seeing the light of a community meeting. The latest version of the plan also bumps parking from 168 up to 195 spaces and sees retail space swelling from 8,000 to 13,700 square feet.

Despite the host of changes, the overall look of Union West remains largely intact. Penned by Chicago-based bKL Architecture, the design consisting of a lower segment clad in brick and metal, parking levels screened by opaque glass framed in metal, and a primarily glass and concrete upper portion remains. The result is an interesting take on the West Loop’s increasingly clichéd pseudo-warehouse aesthetic.

The project will still require a zoning change to move forward. It remains to be seen where the coalition of neighborhood groups and 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis stand regarding the revised project. In addition to contributing to Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, the development team also pledged $75,000 to Friends of Skinner West to build a STEM lab at the school, reports DNAinfo.

Image Courtesy of bKL Architecture
Image Courtesy of bKL Architecture
Image Courtesy of bKL Architecture