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AMLI takes over stalled condo tower at Chicago and Wells, eyes new rental project

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The revised plan would pack nearly 300 units into a relatively small package

A rendering of 808 N. Wells Street.

Developer AMLI Residential is looking to try its luck building apartments at the northwest corner of Chicago Avenue and Wells Street—the site of a stalled condo project from Smithfield Properties. Where the previous developer had called for a 23-story building with 58 spacious units and a 105-space garage, the new proposal flips the script for a 17-story, transit-oriented structure providing 297 compact rental units and just 16 parking spaces.

Smithfield’s condo plan failed to get off the ground after slower than expected sales and the sudden passing of company executive Bill Smith in 2016. The River North project did, however, manage to demolish some handsome older buildings to construct what was supposed to be a temporary single-story sales center. Currently, that structure is occupied by a showroom for Manifesto furniture.

According to a zoning application filed late last week, the revised plan for 808 N. Wells Street would top out at 210 feet versus the 331-foot roof of the previous proposal. It represents AMLI’s first foray into building smaller units with average apartment size expected to be around 550 square fee. By comparison, the AMLI’s other River North and the South Loop buildings offer average sizes in excess of 800 square feet, noted Crain’s.

Chicago’s Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) is behind the new design which features a masonry base—a nod to the old warehouses scattered throughout River North’s Gallery District—and upper level wrapped in floor-to-ceiling glass. Plans also include ground-floor retail space and, of course, a rooftop amenity deck. Walsh Construction is listed as the project’s general contractor.

To move forward as proposed, the 808 N. Wells Street will need to change the site’s existing Planned Development zoning. This entails a trip to the Chicago Plan Commission, Zoning Committee, and finally the full Chicago City Council for final approval.

A view looking east, down Chicago Avenue.
The building from the south.
A diagram showing Smithfield’s abandoned condo project (left) and AMLI’s revised rental plan (right).
The former condo sales center at the site has been turned into a furniture store.
Jay Koziarz