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West Loop hotel tower, library among projects approved by the Chicago Plan Commission

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The West Loop development boom is showing no signs of slowing down

Eckenhoff Saunders Architects

The redesigned 12-story apartment development proposed for Uptown was far from the only project approved yesterday by the Chicago Plan Commission with an updated look. Four West Loop projects—a hotel, library, apartment development, and office building—received a thumbs up from the Commission. Here’s a quick look at what was approved:

The 19-story version of 113 N. May presented to neighbors in July [left] versus the 16-story approved yesterday by the Plan Commission [right].
Eckenhoff Saunders Architects

↑113 N. May Street

After presenting West Loop neighbors with plans for a 19-story extended-stay Hyatt hotel a couple of months ago, developer Sterling Bay submitted a shorter, 16-story version to the Chicago Plan Commission this month. In addition to the height cut, the upper portion of the tower has been redesigned by Eckenhoff Saunders Architects. The previous mix of concrete and painted panels has been dropped in favor of a more unified facade. The smaller windows of the prior plan have been swapped out for a larger, more industrial-looking metal sash style.

Parking remains unchanged at 41 off-street spots while overall room count has come down slightly from 220 to 200 with the latest redesign. The development is expected to the serve primarily as corporate housing for attendees of the “Hamburger University” training program at McDonald’s upcoming West Loop corporate HQ at 110 N. Carpenter Street.


↑Chicago Public Library West Loop Branch

Tied to the Plan Development (PD) application for a new hotel at 113 N. May was Sterling Bay’s plan to donate a building to the City of Chicago for future civic use by Chicago Public Libraries. As approved, the existing, two-story structure at 118 N. Aberdeen Street will be renovated into a 16,500-square-foot West Loop Branch. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the adaptive reuse plan will reincorporate the old building’s bow-truss ceiling beams.

Image courtesy of bKL Architecture
Image courtesy of bKL Architecture

↑Union West

This large, twin tower project slated for the West Loop block bordered by Washington, Morgan, Madison, and Sangamon, returned with a slightly tweaked design prior to being approved. Co-developed by ZOM Living and Verde Communities and designed bKL Architecture, the Union West development was previously proposed to rise 17 stories and contain 405 rental units. The final design was cut down slightly to 15 stories with apartment count dropping to 358. Additional changes include the use of warmer colored brick on the lower levels and less glass on the towers’ upper floors.

Union West will feature just nine affordable housing units on site, with the developer paying $4.7M into Chicago’s affordable housing fund and $1.8M into the Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus system for increased density entitlements. A well-concealed garage will contain a total of 250 parking spaces for both resident and ground floor retail use.

↑1001 W. Fulton Market

The Plan Commission approved a six-story commercial building in Chicago’s West loop that would replace a vacant lot at the southwest corner of Fulton Market and Morgan. The approved design has grown by a floor compared to an earlier plan presented by developer Vequity, LLC and architect Ilekis Associates. The bump in height corresponds to a $88,800 payment into Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund.

↑Lincoln Park Zoo Visitors Center

A Lakefront Protection Ordinance application for a new $9 million visitor center for Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo also got the official nod yesterday. Designed by Chicago’s Ross Barney Architects, the project will feature a pair of new buildings containing guest and member services, stroller rentals, interactive displays, a shaded rest area, and new bathrooms. Zoo officials hope to begin construction on the buildings by the end of this year.