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River North office proposal with moving ‘kinetic wall’ clears key City Hall vote

Zoning approval for the building at 301 W. Huron was one of several measures passed by the Plan Commission

A 15-story office tower rises next to elevated train tracks. The building has a black metal frame with multiple balcony cutouts and an undulating mesh screen at its base.
A rendering of 301 W. Huron and its “kinetic wall.”

A proposal to build a 15-story office tower at 301 W. Huron Street and six-story addition to an existing commercial building at 308 W. Erie Street passed the Chicago Plan Commission on Thursday—a key vote in the city’s zoning approval process.

This two-building project from developer North Wells Capital and NORR Architects replaces a pair of River North parking lots with new office space, ground-floor retail, tenant amenities, and a garage screened by a kinetic wall of hinged flappers that will undulate in the breeze.

According to the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, the $61 million downtown project will contribute $3.22 million into the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund to achieve extra density. The payment will be reinvested as small business grants in underserved communities on Chicago’s South and West sides.

North Wells Capital intends to build a third River North office building at nearby 320 W. Huron Street, but has yet to make those plans public.

Additionally, the commission approved a number of smaller measures at Thursday’s City Hall meeting. These included approval for a Koval distillery and tasting room at 4241 N. Ravenswood as well as zoning for daycare and school uses at Uptown’s “The Draper” development under construction at 5050 N. Broadway.

The Plan Commission also signed off on an amendment allowing the multiphase Old Town Park development on Chicago’s Near North Side to set aside 60 of its 1,200 residential units to be used as hotel rooms. A similar measure to convert 20 percent of the 809 apartments at One Superior Place into short-term rentals appeared on Thursday’s agenda, but was deferred to a later date.