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60-story skyscraper proposed for River North

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The project would replace a collection of historic row homes on Superior and possibly the Giordano's on Rush

42nd Ward

Concerns over the potential redevelopment of several historic buildings along Superior Street in River North have proved to be quite valid after it was revealed Friday that a New York-based developer has sky-high plans for the site. According to 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly’s newsletter, Symmetry Property Development is looking to construct a 60-story mixed-use tower at 42-48 E. Superior.

The 725-foot proposal would contain 216 hotel rooms, 120 hotel timeshare units, 246 condominium units, roughly 30,000 square feet of retail space, and parking for 325 vehicles. While a single rendering showing a modern, glassy tower with a curvilinear crown was distributed with the email, many questions—such as the project’s lead design architect—remain unanswered at this point.

Perhaps the most pressing unknown is how the building plans to meet the street as well as the treatment of its sizable parking garage. With a River North streetscape all but dominated by oppressive garage podiums, hopes are high that the developer conceals the parking behind active use. The project’s street level presence is especially worth special consideration given what will be demolished and lost under the plan.

An existing cluster of 19th century Italianate buildings at 42 E. Superior are on the chopping block. They are not landmarked by the city of Chicago but are “orange-rated” which means the city has to delay their demolition by 90 days. In theory, this can afford activists a fighting chance to prove the structures’ historical significance and perhaps make a case for preservation. These—among other—threatened River North buildings could possibly form the basis of a new so-called “McCormickville” landmark district, claimed Ward Miller of Preservation Chicago.

Google Street View

This is hardly the first time these vintage structures have been threatened by demolition. Back in 2015, it was reported that Symmetry was planning a 36-story combination hotel and residential tower for the site. Designed by SOM, the cylinder-shaped building would have included a branch of the Tryp Hotel, a Wyndham chain based mostly in Europe.

A year before that, a 45-story, 620 room hotel proposal was slated for the very same block. That scheme, however, was effectively killed by Alderman Reilly who claimed the design was “too ambitious” for a location “surrounded by failing intersections.” It remains to be seen if the latest—and obviously more ambitious—plan will take the aforementioned traffic issues into consideration.

More information will be revealed next week when the Alderman will be joined by the River North Residents Association (RNRA) in hosting a public meeting regarding the proposed skyscraper. It is scheduled for Monday, March 13 at 6:00 PM at the Sofitel Chicago located at 20 E. Chestnut Street. Representatives of Symmetry Development will present their plan and be on-hand to address questions and concerns.