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River North’s 60-story ‘Carillon’ tower shot down, shorter high-rise still possible

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The developer’s plan to purchase additional density was denied by Ald. Brendan Reilly

SOM/42nd Ward
SOM/42nd Ward

A plan to bring a 60-story mixed-use skyscraper to the northeast corner of Wabash and Superior in Chicago’s River North neighborhood will not be moving forward. According to an email distributed to residents this weekend by the office of Alderman Brendan Reilly, the 42nd Ward city councilman will not support the Planned Development (PD) application as proposed to a packed house of less than enthusiastic neighbors last month.

Dubbed The Carillon, the now-dead project comes from Symmetry Development and Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM)—the architecture firm behind Chicago’s iconic John Hancock Center and Willis (Sears) Tower. Proposed to rise to a height of 725 feet, The Carillon would have featured 216 hotel rooms, 120 hotel timeshare units, 246 luxury condominiums, 30,000 square feet of retail space, and parking for 325 vehicles. In an attempt to curb congestion on Superior, the plan put garage ingress and egress on a rear alleyway.

The last part of the plan—along with traffic issues in general—drew the brunt of the project’s criticism from nearby residents. The Alderman echoed concerns over congestion, circulation, loading, and the “intensity” of a such a large, multi-use project for the basis for nixing the plan. “The proposed parking and loading scheme that would utilize the public alley simply will not work for this proposal,” read Reilly’s newsletter. In 2014, Reilly scuttled a 45-story hotel proposed for the eastern half of the site due to of similar issues.

It hard to say what’s next for the site and the cluster of older buildings that currently occupy this stretch of Superior street. Even with the Alderman refusing to lend his support for the 60-story project and its mixed-used condo/hotel/timeshare programming, the property owners can still develop the site under its existing—and fairly dense—DX-12 zoning designation. In fact, Reilly has “encouraged” Symmetry to do either of the following:

(1) Propose a Planned Development that does not seek to purchase additional FAR for development of the site and - rather than propose multiple, intense uses - strongly consider pursuing a single use, such as a residential project.

(2) Consider forgoing a Planned Development altogether and work to determine what could be developed under their existing development entitlements and zoning restrictions related to height, uses, etc.

A rough massing diagram of what an “as of right” development would look like at the site was also included in the email communication. Showing a 28-story building with 350 apartments plus 460 parking spaces utilizing a pre-existing curb cut (versus The Carillon’s alley-based loading scheme), the plan still looks like it blocks plenty of neighboring views and will likely generate considerable vehicular traffic.

DX-12 zoning would allow a shorter but wider 330-foot building to be built “as of right.”
42nd Ward