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Chicago Spire redeveloper gets more time to tweak plan, satisfy alderman’s concerns

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Related Midwest has until May 2020 to break ground at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive or risk losing its zoning

A rendering of the SOM-designed proposal revealed in 2018.
Image courtesy of Related Midwest

The decade-long saga surrounding the redevelopment of the infamous Chicago Spire site looks like it will drag on for a little longer still.

On Thursday the city’s Plan Commission voted in favor of a measure extending the zoning rights at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive for an additional year. The move gives developer Related Midwest more time to revise its plan and satisfy the demands of 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly.

Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Related’s initial two-tower proposal included a 1,100-foot combination condo and hotel building next to an 850-foot apartment tower. Reilly scuttled that plan in October, citing issues with the podium design, hotel component, traffic circulation, and pedestrian access to the public Ogden Slip esplanade and future home of DuSable Park.

In Chicago, zoning matters generally defer to the alderman of each project’s respective ward in a long-standing practice known as aldermanic privilege or prerogative. The tradition, however, has come under increased public scrutiny in recent weeks given the federal corruption investigations implicating aldermen Burke and Solis as well as dissatisfaction by neighbors regarding the rapid approval of the Lincoln Yards megadevelopment.

The existing zoning entitlements for 400 N. Lake Shore Drive were set to expire in May of this year unless Related broke ground before then. The amendment passed by the Plan Commission extends that deadline to May 2020—provided the measure also clears the city’s Zoning Committee and City Council. This would be the parcel’s third such extension since 2007, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The original Chicago Spire plan called for a single, 2,000-foot-tall luxury condominium tower designed by Spanish-born starchitect Santiago Calatrava. Developer Garrett Kelleher abandoned foundation work on the skyscraper during the global financial crisis of 2008, leaving behind an unsightly hole. Related Midwest acquired the site in 2014 and installed temporary landscaping around the pit two years later.

An updated plan for 400 N. Lake Shore Drive will likely debut at a public presentation hosted by Alderman Reilly. Although no meeting date has been announced thus far, the project may break cover soon considering the key votes, permits, and financing deals needed to break ground ahead of the May 2020 deadline. A spokesperson from Related Midwest declined to comment.

Chicago Spire

400 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60611 Visit Website