The West Loop is ready to welcome one of its most dense apartment projects to date as crews put the finishing touches on a block-sized development rising near Mary Bartelme Park. The plan will bring 586 residences in a pair of 17-story towers to the two-acre site previously occupied by the H2O Plus shampoo manufacturer.
With 586 units on offer, the development at 855 W. Madison—now known as Porte—has more apartments than some taller projects like 727 W. Madison, The Parker, and Landmark West Loop. The units here will range from 546 to 1,591 square feet in size, with rents starting at $2,170 per month for studio apartments.
Porte’s most interesting residences are the 13 street-level townhouses at the site’s perimeter. These two-level homes—which rent for $7,240 per month and come with their own private entrances—smartly conceal the building’s parking garage and provide a more human-scaled streetscape, says Ted Weldon of LendLease, which is co-developing the project along with the John Buck Company and Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation.
No new high-end rental building would be complete without a wide array of tenant amenities, and Porte has plenty. Perks include a fitness center, game room, lounge, demonstration kitchen, coworking space, dog run, and a pool deck between the two towers. The project boasts some sustainable features too, such as rooftop crops and beehives, and is targeting LEED gold certification. Porte also incorporates all 10 percent of the affordable housing units required by the city’s ARO ordinance on-site.
As pre-leasing ramps up ahead of an anticipated June move-in, the team behind the project explains the decision to rebrand the project as “Porte.” The choice, which translates to door in French, reflects both the design and location, according to Weldon. “It’s the door to West Loop and everything it has to offer.” Porte replaces the earlier name of “The Venn,” which drew inspiration from the overlapping circles of a Venn diagram.
The name isn’t the only recent change to 855 W. Madison: the upper portion of the development sports an updated design from GREC Architects that uses more metal panels and has less glass and three-dimensional depth compared to earlier renderings. Weldon tells Curbed Chicago that the changes weren’t motivated by budget considerations but rather a desire to give the towers a different contemporary aesthetic compared to the masonry base. The redesign will also accumulate less snow and ice, which can fall and create safety concerns, Weldon says.
While some of the exterior materials may have evolved, the overall layout of Porte follows the same basic orientation as before. “This is a good example of how to deal with density properly,” adds Weldon. “The towers are quite narrow and tall and arranged in a way that maximizes views and makes sure that we didn’t have a big building directly facing the park. People in the park see a two-story building on the corner with the towers set further back.”
Porte may be one of the most substantial new apartment developments in the West Loop, but it is by no means alone. It joins recently completed projects like Union West (357 units), Milieu (275 units), and the soon-to-open project known as The Jax (166 units). At the same time, developers rush to add dozens of office towers, hotels, and mixed-use projects to the once-gritty neighborhood.