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Old November 25th, 2004, 12:00 AM   #1
The Urban Politician
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Annoying NIMBY's tackle 126 E Chestnut?

SOAR draws line in sand on 126 E. Chestnut

November 24, 2004

BY DAVE ROEDER SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST




The developers of the project behind the Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut, suddenly have a fight on their hands. For weeks, things had gone relatively well for Edward James Partners LLC and Opus North Corp. as they made the rounds on the Near North Side to elicit support -- or at least sedate opposition -- for their proposed 64-story tower just west of the Gothic church.

Community meetings drew the predictable "don't block my view'' complaints that seldom kill a project. Many others praised the plan, which is supposed to bring the church $25 million for new facilities and programs that will help the poor. The developers worked with Jack Guthman, a leading zoning attorney, to open the right doors at City Hall.

"They have God and Guthman on their side,'' one resident commented.

But now the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents has come out against the project. SOAR's opposition is significant, because the group has a reputation for even-handedness and the greatest political reach of any in its neighborhood. When it says "no way,'' many will think it has plenty of reasons.

Citing an onslaught of new high-rises within blocks of Michigan Avenue, Rosalie Harris, SOAR's executive director, said, "Our board felt this needed to be a line in the sand.'' She said opposition isn't based on people losing views, but on concern over loss of light and added congestion.

I'm not sure the criticism makes sense. The project has been oriented to minimize shadows over the church courtyard, a treasured public space. In height and square footage, it would be smaller than much of what's around it. And the condos and church offices in the building would generate less traffic than any commercial use.

But SOAR could put enough heat on Ald. Burton Natarus (42nd) to withhold approval until the developers trim the size. If that happens, it'll be interesting to see who absorbs the financial hit, the developers or the church.
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Old November 25th, 2004, 06:40 AM   #2
geoff_diamond
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Okay, what I don't understand is how SOAR even has any say in this? The damn property in question isn't even in Streeterville. This is like a Lincoln Park protection agency protesting a Loop development. Just doesn't make any sense to me. Michigan Avenue was built to handle, and THRIVE on, congestion - this is the best Streeterville residents could come up with to fight what will represent yet another bit of competition in an already flooded residential real-estate market.
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Old November 25th, 2004, 07:45 AM   #3
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I hope this building gets built right up their ass.
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Old November 25th, 2004, 03:47 PM   #4
geoff_diamond
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ahahahahah
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Old January 29th, 2005, 09:23 PM   #5
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The anti-development neighborhood groups are so incredibly misguided. Their wining about traffic indicates that their mentality is suburban, not urban. People should be walking, not driving, anyway, and if increased traffic is incentive to make that happen, then its good, not bad.

This sort of pressure to cut the building's size can result in worse design. A developer who has to cut density sees potential profits decline, and in turn cuts corners in the design to compensate. Then you end up with a 30 story poorly designed building rather than a better-designed 50 or 60 story building. It doesn't make sense.

Residents shouldn't be up in arms about density; they should be vigilant about design. They shouldn't let buildings get built if they are ugly, i.e. 1 East Superior. If the neighborhood pressure that is usually devoted to anti-density was devoted to anti-uglyness and pro-innovative design, we would have a lot more beautiful towers in the air, and those residents skyline views would be better than they are today.
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Old January 29th, 2005, 10:00 PM   #6
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4rth Pres Church has a lot of support however, due to the congregation's support. They know that the Church will get a lot of money for this, which will help with the Parish's goodwill efforts in the city. It would be evil to oppose this, if anything, in thier eyes. The alderman whose city ward this tower is bieing built in is also in support. Daley will support it, no doubt. The only problems this tower will face in its future will probably be financing, if anything.
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