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Old December 26th, 2004, 03:20 AM   #161
BVictor1
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This article is from the Skyline weekly neighborhood newspaper.

December 23, 2004

Downtowners voice opposition to Fourth Presbyterian condo plan
64-story condo plan resches Plan Commission Feb. 24
By: Adam Pincus-Correspondent


Using phrases like "traffic failure rate" and "canyonization," opponents of a proposed condo tower on the Fourth Presbyterian Church property urged city officials to reject the plan, which will come before the Chicago Plan Commission on Feb. 24.

A neighborhood panel spoke to and heard from over 300 residents who attended the community forum held Wednesday, Dec. 15, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, 160 E. Pearson St.

The five-member panel was made up of one member from each of the three group sponsore-the Connors Park Neighborhood Coalition, the Washington Square Assosiation and the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR). Independant experts on traffic and lighting also sat on the panel.

The majority of the residents speaking at the meeting were opposed to the 64-story condominium tower proposed for the church property on Michigan Avenue between Chestnut and Deleware. Event organizers said that church representatives were not invited to participate.

"The point is, we are experiencing explosive population growth without any meaningful increase in infrastructure to support the increased population," said panelist Robert Farkas, board member of Connors Park Neighborhood Coalition.

The city bore the brunt of the criticism, as residents questioned the city's emergency response capabilities, infrastructure plans and Ald. Burt Natarus' (42nd) decision making process.

Three city representatives attended the meeting, including Ald. Natarus, who spoke briefly, but would not comment on the development, citing his membership on the Chicago Plan Commission. Two officials of the DPD where also present, but only as observers.

Phoned after the meeting, Pete Scales, spokesperson for the Dept. of Planning and Development, said, "This is downtown, this is where we want density."

Scales was not able to comment on the impact of infrastructure at this time, but he noted that the Central Are Plan approved by the city last summer calls for greater density on Michigan Avenue.

The proposed tower is one of 10 projects planned for the neighborhood that would lead to a 70 percent increase in condominium units since 2000, according th Frakas. He also sited a traffic study by Land Strategies, Inc., commissioned by Connors Park, alleging that the intersection of Delaeare Place and Michigan Avenue is at a "failure rate" during the afternoon rush.

On friday, December 17, Alison Chisolm, a spokesperson for the church, noted that the proposed entrance is eastbound on Delaware and the exit is westbound on Chestnut, so traffic should not impact Michigan Ave.

She added, as well, that a study by Larry Okrent Association, filed with the Planned Development application, "concludes there is no negative impact. In fact, there is a positive impact."

The church, along with development partners Edward R. James Partners, LLC, and Opus North Delaware Condos, LLC, filed the planned development application with the city on September 29.

The 765-foot-tall building would replace two structures on the west side of the church property, which would be demolished. The church plans to occupy the first six floors of the new building. Above that, the developers would build 240 market-rate condominiums, paying $25 million to the church for the air rights.

Proceeds from the air rights would be used to partially fund a church expansion, endowment support, a gift to the McCormick Theological Seminary, and a new community center on Chicago Avenue for residnets of the Cabrini-Green neighborhood. The church has a current membership of about 5,300.

Following brief panelist presentations, more than 30 residents spoke. Of those, approximately 85 percent opposed the condominium.

Some, such as Ginny Hourigan, thought the condo would be more than just an aesthtic compromise for the church. "I think it is time to realize Fourth Persbyterian is more than just a church...it is the soul of Michigan Avenue, it is the soul of Chicago."

Others, such as Cindy Kaitzer, a 15-year resident of the neighborhood, were concerned about density. "The construction of a massive condominium tower, one of the largest and densest in the area, will exacerbate a stiutation which is already undesirable."

A Fourth Presbyterian member and downtown resident, George Dohrman III, commented after the meeting that the good done through the Chicago Avenue center would be achieved at the expense of the Michigan Avenue area. "The church has excellent programs, but it doesn't make sense to ruin one area of the city to help another," he said.

A handful of people spoke in support of the proposal, one noting that the Metrpolitan Planning Council had released a December 14 letter supporting the plan.

A member of SOAR, Larry McCracken, spoke in favor of the tower, citing the benefits of the church expansion. "There has been no mention made of the expanding needs of the church...no mention made of meals, or of students served by the church on a daily basis," he said.

Another neighborhood resident, and member of the church, Benny Hutchinson, also spoke in favor of the project. "I know we need the resources this project will bring us." He then added, "I also bow to the inevibility of development."
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Old December 26th, 2004, 06:36 AM   #162
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^Great article, BVictor.

I am tempted to criticize these NIMBY's, but I don't live in the neighborhood--and it's easy for me to scream from my comfortable desk in skyscraper-starved Washington DC, "let them build the damn thing", but in reality the issue is probably a bit more complicated.

Either way, I have little doubt that the development will get approved despite this relatively small-sized opposition.
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Old December 26th, 2004, 10:04 AM   #163
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What is planned for the Dr. Scholl's site?
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Old December 26th, 2004, 11:10 AM   #164
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJphx
What is planned for the Dr. Scholl's site?
A building by Smithfield Properties called 30 West Oak



Nothing too special in my opinion.

Last edited by BVictor1; December 27th, 2004 at 02:27 AM.
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Old December 26th, 2004, 04:36 PM   #165
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There is no way that I could possibly pass up posting this article. I know both of these great people. They were professors at my school (Ikkinois Institute of Technology). Jeanne's husband Mark was my studio professor my first semester for my third year. He's really nice. I'm really proud to see they're getting so much praise for their work. It's also proud to know that they are a hometown team producing such great work.


CHICAGOANS OF THE YEAR: ARCHITECTURE

Jeanne Gang: Revival of the fittest

By Blair Kamin

Tribune architecture critic
Published December 26, 2004

Not all of Chicago's architectural fireworks in 2004 came from Millennium Park and its collection of imported superstars. Homegrown talents, especially young architects, made their mark, signaling that Chicago's architectural future may be as bright as its illustrious past. One of those making a big impact was Chicago architect Jeanne Gang.

Gang, 40, taught at Harvard and had her work exhibited at the Venice Biennale and the Art Institute. She made a short list of nationally recognized architects vying to design a new U.S. courthouse in Alabama (the winner will be announced next year). And her 12-person firm, Studio/Gang Architects, completed a bracing new social services building, the Kam Liu Building, in Chicago's Chinatown.

The litany goes on. Gang and her husband/co-principal, 45-year-old Mark Schendel, won an international design competition for the City of Chicago's Ford Calumet Environmental Center on the city's Far Southeast Side. And the pair broke into the high-rise leagues by snagging the job as design consultant for a couple of condo towers at the big Lakeshore East development in Chicago, now rising on a former golf course just west of Lake Shore Drive.

Moving roof

Not bad, considering that Gang and her firm finished their first major building, Rockford's Starlight Theatre, in 2003. Designed when the firm was known as Studio Gang/O'Donnell, the theater features a moving roof that opens like the petals of a flower. That allows an outdoor community theater group to perform whatever the weather. Both the theater and the Liu building in Chinatown won awards this year from the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Gang grew up in Belvidere, not far from Rockford, the daughter of a civil engineer and a part-time seamstress who works with quilts and makes fabrics. When she was a kid, the family would go out and look at new roads and bridges. Her mother's influence is equally apparent in her exploration of new textures for familiar materials. For a future social services building on Chicago's South Side, for example, she's playing with brick so it forms a partly open, screenlike facade rather than a massive, load-bearing wall.

"These are women's things," Gang said in an interview at the firm's offices at 1212 N. Ashland Ave., though she hastened to add that there is nothing sentimental about her interest in the expression of materials. "The more things you have in your bag of tricks," she said, "the better."

Gang designs in a modernist idiom, but unlike the abstract, steel-and-glass boxes of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, her work usually has some recognizable feature that invites non-architects to explore it. The Liu Building, for example, flaunts a skin of titanium shingles that resemble the scales of a dragon. Similarly, the Ford Calumet Environmental Center will have an outdoor patio encased in a nestlike metal mesh. The mesh not only will keep birds from flying into glass but also will project a strong natural image.

As the environmental center design shows, Gang believes in buildings that respond directly to the particulars of their site. She's also big on what she calls "veiling" -- buildings that reveal themselves gradually rather than all at once. And reflecting her tenure with Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, Gang believes that, by creatively interpreting a building's set of uses, or program, architects can simultaneously generate the form of its exterior and energize the spaces of its interior.

"I never thought about [architecture] as style," she said.

Large-scale projects

While the brutally tight economics of high-rise housing have frustrated many talented architects, Gang and Schendel, another Koolhaas alum, insist they can ride this tiger without getting bitten. Because they worked on large-scale projects for Koolhaas, they are not intimidated at the prospect of making the leap to 30- to 40-story high-rises at Lakeshore East. Their towers, which will be produced by architect-of-record Loewenberg + Associates, will rise across Columbus Drive from the 1,136-foot Aon Center.

"That scale is completely comfortable to us from the [Koolhaas] experience," Schendel said. They credit one of Lakeshore East's co-developers, Jim Loewenberg, for seeking out a "hungry" young firm that wants to push the aesthetic envelope. Loewenberg, both a developer and an architect, has designed many of the oft-criticized exposed concrete high-rises in River North.

As impressive as Gang's output has been, the most telling sign of her success is the stack of resumes that sit on a desk inside her firm's office. Many are from out-of-town architects, including some from overseas. Word about Gang and her firm is clearly spreading, as is word of Chicago's architectural revival after the largely dormant decade of the 1990s.

"If we're not hiring, they go elsewhere in the city," Schendel said.

Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune

Last edited by BVictor1; December 26th, 2004 at 04:41 PM.
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Old December 26th, 2004, 05:23 PM   #166
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Another great article that sums up the Chicago area's housing situation. I love the last paragraph, that says "Detroit is becoming another Chicago":

THE MARKET
Feeling warmth far from Sun Belt

Wayne Faulkner, Real Estate editor
Published December 26, 2004

Considering we're far from the Sun Belt, the desert or warm ocean waters, the Chicago area is pretty hot -- its real estate, that is.

While our house price appreciation rate can't compare with that on the West Coast, most here probably would agree that we're paying high enough property taxes without seeing prices jump more than 50 percent in one year, as they did in Las Vegas. Metro Chicago, which includes Kenosha and Gary, came in with a 4.9 percent increase in the same period, according to the Federal Housing Finance Board.

Our overall population has risen moderately, though suburban counties saw big jumps from 1990 to 2000, and the city finally reversed its losing ways. But our housing-permit numbers for 2003 were sixth highest in the nation, with Atlanta leading the pack and only Washington, D.C., topping us outside the sunny South or arid West, according to figures from the National Association of Home Builders.

Some things set us apart from the majority of America. For one, more than half of all homes built in the Chicago area last year were not single-families, but rather condominiums and townhouses, according to Robert Shield, senior vice president of Draper & Kramer Mortgage Corp. That perhaps reflects the filling in of formerly wide-open suburbs and the skyrocketing costs of land.

In the city, vacant lots are often selling for what houses cost just a few years ago. We long ago passed the threshold where a $1 million property could be seen as teardown material. In fact, in Hinsdale, one real estate agent reports a second wave of teardowns, with homes less than 10 years old biting the dust in favor of still bigger and more expensive ones.

We can thank immigration for a lot of our net gain in population; that's especially true in the city. But the immigration surge is being felt outside the city as well. Staff reporter John Handley last Sunday reported about the changing face of the housing market here and around the country. He quoted Christopher Shaxted, executive vice president of Lakewood Homes: "Immigrants have been driving the housing boom here. As high as 40 percent of first-time buyers are immigrants."

There's hardly a Chicago neighborhood untouched by home construction. McNaughton Builders plans $400,000-plus houses in McKinley Park. Houses around that price are going up, scattered around nearby Brighton Park. The vacant lots of the South Side's Woodlawn neighborhood are filling with new, market-rate housing. New houses are sprouting here and there throughout Morgan Park.

The South Side lakefront to 47th Street is undergoing enormous change, with condos, apartments and houses going up or planned.

Many of the Chicago Housing Authority's projects are beginning to be remade into hopefully mixed-income neighborhoods, with $1.5 billion in work planned, replacing 53 high-rises with 25,000 housing units.

In the suburbs, time was that four stories made a high-rise. Not so now. Optima Inc. is putting up Optima Old Orchard Woods, a three-building, 20-story complex in Skokie; there is a crop of high-rise condos in downtown Evanston; and now a 14-story rental building is proposed for Evanston across Howard Street from Rogers Park's Gateway Centre complex. Gamonley Group is building a 12-story condo in the Seven Bridges area of Woodridge.

There seems to be no end in sight for building in downtown Chicago, with several more large high-rise condo and rental buildings announced in the last few months. Some were predicting the decline of the urban high-rise residential building after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But, sales numbers for downtown Chicago are near record levels, reached before 9/11.

Just when you thought the sprawl of suburban Chicago had reached about as far into the sunset as it could comes large-scale development in Kendall and DeKalb Counties. Staff reporter Sharon Stangenes recently reported that Centex Homes is planning 2,000 homes in Yorkville, 55 miles from the Loop, and Lakewood Homes has received approval from Plano, 58 miles from the Loop, for the second phase of its Lakewood Springs development, bringing that project to 5,000 homes. Cambridge Homes has announced plans for a 2,600-home development in Pingree Grove, 49 miles from the Loop and west of Elgin.

Pingree Grove, Plano and Yorkville look like they'll be the new Napervilles, Schaumburgs and Gurnees.

Building opportunities aren't only blossoming on the prairie, they're also sprouting up in long-overlooked suburbs such as University Park, Matteson and Lynwood.

There was a time in the 1970s that some said Chicago would become another Detroit. They were wrong. Now there's evidence in the form of commercial and residential development in Motown that Detroit is becoming another Chicago.
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Old December 26th, 2004, 06:57 PM   #167
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Great article,
The housing boom is occuring all over the metro area. Suburbia keep expandin in all directions (except east), but the city takes the cake! The shit you see happening all around the city in unfreaking believable!
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Old December 27th, 2004, 05:29 AM   #168
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^Okay, don't ask why I posted this. It's the entrance of the newly constructed 120 N Jefferson. Isn't it a beauty (the entrance)?
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Old December 28th, 2004, 07:38 AM   #169
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Some more stuff. Artistic renderings and info on a few buildings planned for Park Boulevard (the replacement housing for Stateway Gardens):







PARK BOULEVARD
Park Boulevard is new construction of a seven story, 72,000 sq. ft. building with 55 units, two-thirds of which are designated as either affordable or CHA. The first floor of the building is dedicated to retail/commercial space. The building is part of the Hope VI redevelopment of the historic Stateway Gardens CHA site and is part of a planned development.

Madden/Wells:



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Old December 28th, 2004, 08:42 AM   #170
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^ Oh, those beige/forest green townhouses are so ugly...why...

That five-story red-and-green thing, though, the first picture, that's pretty cool.
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Old December 28th, 2004, 07:48 PM   #171
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Parking places
What should a parking garage look like? In Chicago, the issue is anything but academic.

By Blair Kamin
Tribune architecture critic
Published December 28, 2004

Every day, millions of Americans do something that has a profound but little-noticed impact on the fragile texture of cities: They drive into a parking garage.

As they head up a ramp, the tension builds: "Will my car get dented? How will I find the elevator? Will that Chevy racing down the aisle run me over?" But there is greater reason for concern: Like all buildings, a parking garage can either bring vitality to a city or suck the energy right out of it.

There is, of course, the eyesore garage we all know and despise, the three-dimensional cash station for the garage owner that assaults passersby with crumbling concrete and stark fluorescent lights. Yet there also are parking garages with ground-floor shops that enliven sidewalks, and facades that acknowledge that people look at garages as well as drive into them. Some of them, such as the circular garages that form a pedestal for the corncob-shaped towers of Marina City, even manage to be beautiful.

All of that raises a simple but extremely thorny question: What should a parking garage look like? In Chicago, the issue is anything but academic because Mayor Richard M. Daley and his planners have declared war on parking garages that look like parking garages. Instead, they are to be brick-and-mortar chameleons, blending in with everything from Lakeview houses to Loop office buildings.

Daley also wants the harsh surfaces of parking garages to be softened with hanging baskets, flower boxes, roof gardens and other greenery. Daley's plan "will go a long way in the ongoing beautification and improvement of our central area," city officials trumpeted after the City Council passed the mayor's garage landscaping ordinance last year.

But a close look at Chicago's new garages reveals an outcome that is far more complex, or just plain silly. The new ones tend to be a strange, stage-set hybrid -- buildings for storing cars that pretend to be buildings where people live and work. Many of them have an eerie look, like a house where everyone has pulled down the window shades and never plans on coming out. Almost comically, the plants that adorn some of the garages are doing what outdoor plants in Chicago typically do in December: They're dying.

Which is why the mayor's plan, hyped as the latest step in his "greening of Chicago," is really more "the weeding of Chicago." It's a beautification fiat carried to extremes, Daley's Martha Stewartizing run amok.

At first glance, the words "distinguished design" and "garage" would seem to go together as well as "Cubs" and "pennant-winning." Garages are not built for the ages. They are the ultimate capitalist tools, machines that make the land pay. But Chicago has somehow become a showcase of good garages. They range from the Self-Park at 60 E. Lake St., which architect Stanley Tigerman endowed with a whimsical facade that resembles a Rolls-Royce grille, to the Wabash-Randolph Self-Park next to Marshall Field's State Street store, which architect Lucien Lagrange shaped to complement the muscular Chicago School buildings of the Loop. And the city's vaunted ability to elevate construction into art continues at the under-construction 111 S. Wacker office building, where architect Jim Goettsch has turned the underside of a parking ramp into a spectacular piece of sculpture that sweeps through the building's lobby.

So why the fakery? Perhaps because city officials are writing rules that deal with the lowest common denominator of design, punishing the best architects for the sins of the worst.

What is happening in Chicago has implications for cities throughout the region and the nation. Evanston, for example, is allowing the construction of sizable garages at the base of the new condominium towers that are transforming its downtown. And car-oriented, Sun Belt cities such as Houston have for decades permitted towering multistory garages in their downtowns. For them, as well as Chicago, the issue of whether a parking garage should wear a disguise has major implications for how the cities of the 21st Century will look and work.

If you want to understand the anatomy and the aesthetics of a parking garage, then let Gordon Prussian show you around.

Prussian, 81, is the chairman and self-described "chief curmudgeon" of General Parking, a Chicago real estate partnership that owns all or part of about a dozen downtown garages. He wears a dark green hat that matches the shade of his BMW 745i and the stylish logo that adorns the company's garages and those of Chicago-based InterPark, which bought General Parking's operating arm in 1997. You've undoubtedly seen that logo if you've cruised the Loop: a white "P" on a field of green with a downward-pointing arrow.

To drive with Prussian is to slip through a looking glass and enter a new world in which downtown Chicago's world-renowned architecture fades into the background and its ever-growing number parking garages, typically ignored, come center stage. Counting garages and surface lots, there are more than 100,000 parking spaces available to the public in Chicago's central area, an increase of at least 15,000 spaces since 1991.

Prussian begins at one of the structures targeted by Daley's beautification edict -- the South Loop Garage, a 750-space, 12-story garage built in the 1980s at 318 S. Federal St. It's directly across Federal from the Monadnock Building, a chocolate-brown, turn-of-the-last-century skyscraper that is a staple of architecture tours. With walls of exposed concrete and an interior that's open to the elements, the architecture of the South Loop Garage is charitably described as "functionalist."

Prussian drives his BMW up the ramp, ticking off features as he goes along: The underside of the concrete ceilings is painted white to make the inside of the garage seem safer and brighter. Floors are labeled by theme and the elevator lobbies offer "pull-outs," little pieces of paper, to remind forgetful drivers where they parked. The elevators are near buildings that generate traffic -- in this case, the Union League Club on Jackson Boulevard rather than the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center on Van Buren Street.

"We don't get much business from there," Prussian says of the jail.

Like most downtown garages, this one has parking spaces that are 8 1/2 feet wide as opposed to 9 feet wide in a suburban mall, where the extra 6 inches are added to enable families to load kids and bags in cars. Like airplanes with tightly packed seats, the closely spaced city garages allow operators to cram in more cars and generate more profit.

But the South Loop Garage's most important feature can only be glimpsed when you stand back and take in the whole thing: It's big. It sprawls across half of its block, measuring roughly 100 feet from east to west and 220 feet from north to south. Chicagoans take beefcake garages like that for granted, but such girth is unheard of in, say, Manhattan, where hyperexpensive land values dictate the construction of skyscrapers and other uses that generate considerably more income than garages do.

A typical Manhattan garage is about half the width of its counterpart in Chicago, Prussian explains. That difference -- think of it as the deep-dish garage versus the thin-crust garage -- has major consequences for urban design. The tiny Manhattan garages, which must be operated by attendants skilled at squeezing cars into itsy-bitsy spaces, can fade into the woodwork of New York's skyscrapers. But Chicago's long-span garages, which are so spacious that drivers can park the cars themselves, are frequently as tall as skyscrapers.

The tallest free-standing downtown garage, at the corner of Lake and Wells Streets, rises 15 stories, or six stories taller than the first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Office Building, which was completed in Chicago in 1885. (Parking garages usually don't exceed 12 stories because drivers will only tolerate five or six 360-degree revolutions, each carrying them two stories higher, before they get to the roof, according to Pier Panicali, a vice president at the Chicago office of Desman Associates, a parking garage design specialist.) Even the garages at the bottom of the city's condominium high-rises can soar as high as a 10-story building.

And it was those garages, in particular, that got City Hall's attention in the late 1990s.

Lacking glass or grilles that would mask parked cars from passersby, these vehicle warehouses brought blight to new heights, such as the one at the One Superior Place apartment tower, which was designed by Loewenberg + Associates, a firm responsible for many of River North's hulking high-rises. In response to a public outcry over these monsters, the City Council in 1999 passed a measure that encouraged developers to screen the interiors of their garages from passersby. Then, last year, at Daley's behest, the council approved new landscaping requirements for both new and existing downtown garages as part of the mayor's push to overhaul Chicago's outdated zoning ordinance.

By April 1, 2007, the law states, the owner of every existing, multistory non-residential parking garage in downtown Chicago must submit a landscape plan to the city's Department of Planning and Development. The plan must spell out how the owner will screen at least half of a garage's openings with such things as hanging baskets or flower boxes. Rooftop gardens, another mayoral favorite, are encouraged. Once the landscape plan is approved, the owner will have six months to get the greenery in place.

Owners of new free-standing garages must screen sloping floors so they can't be seen from nearby sidewalks. Openings above the second floor must use glass, screening panels or other elements "that make the parking structure more architecturally compatible with surrounding buildings," the city ordinance states.

The law is equally strict on so-called "accessory" garages, which are typically found at the base of high-rises. They are to be judged, the city says, on the degree to which they blend in with the building they serve.

If you guessed that these requirements promise to make it more expensive for people such as Gordon Prussian to build parking garages, you would be right.

Figuring in the cost of sprinklers and air-handling systems, which are a must in enclosed garages, his son Michael, General Parking's president, estimates the premium at 20 percent. Unless parking operators work differently from other businesses, some of those increases are bound to be passed on to consumers, who already are paying rates such as $26 a day to store their cars downtown.

There is a price, in other words, for garage beautification. The question is: Is the reality of dolled-up garages as good as the city's rhetoric?

True, the new garages represent an improvement over the old eyesores, but that's setting the bar pretty low. If you can't afford tickets to Second City and need a good laugh, then try the landscaped garages and their foliage follies.

Take the big garage at the base of the Millennium Centre, a residential tower at Dearborn and Ontario Streets designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz of Chicago. While the garage handsomely complements the Art Deco Revival skyscraper that soars above it, the five levels of planter boxes hanging from its facade are a sad joke. Maybe they looked nice in August, but this being December, the plants in them are sickly and bedraggled. Parking customers occasionally use the boxes as impromptu garbage cans.

"It probably looked really good on the rendering," laughed Denise Casalino, commissioner of the city's Department of Planning and Development, when a visitor showed her a snapshot of one dreary planter box.

There's a lesson here for Daley: Plants in the sky need lots of TLC, especially when they're bathed in noxious fumes coming out of tailpipes. To garage operators, maintaining the plants almost surely is a low priority. Which raises the specter that Daley's plan will produce hanging weeds instead of hanging gardens. So why not just do away with the requirements for hanging baskets and flower boxes, especially because they threaten to gussy up the clean lines of the city's better existing garages?

Another problem with the city's rules: They're giving us ghost garages, such as the one at the Farralon, 600 N. Dearborn St., another Loewenberg + Associates condo high-rise.

Instead of openings that reveal the cars inside, the Farralon's garage has translucent panes of glass that shield the garage from the street. That sounds good, but the outcome trades the blight of ugliness for the blight of lifeless uniformity. All the glass panes look the same -- a deadly white. There are no voyeuristic views of couples kissing or even office workers poring over their computers. All the random, chaotic energy of the city seems squelched. Multiply this effect by two and you get a sense of the banality that has been inflicted on the cityscape by such large-scale concealed garages as the one at the North Pier Apartment Tower, 474 N. Lake Shore Drive, by Dubin, Dubin & Moutoussamy. As the skyscraper butts up against the Drive, the louvers disguising its garage have all the charm of a nuclear power plant. The new garage beautification law wisely suggests eliminating such eyesores.

While louvers and other screens offer practical benefits -- they block the wind and keep snow from piling up on cars along a garage's perimeter -- they have drawbacks, too. Completely screening a garage's interior means no one on the sidewalk can watch the people inside. Passersby cannot play the crime-deterring role of "eyes on the street," the phrase that the urbanologist Jane Jacobs coined for the way city neighborhoods police themselves.

But for every rule about ugly parking garages, there is a contradiction, a sparkling exception that makes crafting effective design mandates extremely difficult.

If a complete camouflage job sounds like a bad idea, based on such duds as the North Pier garage, then consider the mighty, X-braced John Hancock Center. The parking on its lower floors is deftly hidden behind windows that fool you into thinking there are offices behind them. But that subterfuge is perfectly acceptable. Any openings would disturb the pure geometry of the great truncated obelisk.

Even so, it's hard to be persuaded by the well-meaning but lackluster stage-set architecture of the free-standing garages that respond to the city's garage beautification drive: the 2-year-old Mart Parc Wells garage at 401 N. Wells St., which apes the Art Deco architecture of the nearby Merchandise Mart; the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center garage, open since May, which mimics nearby townhouses along Wellington Avenue; and the Government Center Self-Park at 181 N. Clark St., just two months old, which tries to blend into the Loop but winds up resembling a banal, suburban-style office building.

At the hospital garage, by RTKL architects and Desman Associates, the pretense is carried out to lengths that are practically Disneyesque.

The big garage pretends to be small, with brick walls that echo the scale of nearby houses, metal grids that suggest windowpanes, and extra-wide planter boxes. The visual cues tell you that someone lives inside, but, of course, this is a place that only cars call home. Form follows fakery, not the building's underlying structure, as at the Hancock.

The only thing missing is an actress in period costume who comes out and waters the shivering plants. For all it respects its neighborhood, the garage still rubs the wrong way in a town that has long valued honesty of expression.

Which brings us to the garages that work: They work because they follow the principle of stylized honesty.

At Lagrange's 14-year-old Wabash-Randolph Self-Park, vertical green pipes endow typical garage openings with a layered, three-part look that recalls the rhythms of Chicago's turn-of-the-century office buildings. The street-level facade has stylish flat columns and shops that enliven the sidewalk. Mechanical equipment is concealed in stylish mini-temples on the roof. Yet there is no attempt to hide the fact that this is a garage. Rather, in the best Chicago tradition, the design takes the facts of the building and transforms them into straightforward, workaday beauty, like a carpenter wearing neatly-pressed overalls.

Wabash-Randolph is hardly an isolated example.

Solomon Cordwell Buenz's five-year-old Rush-Ontario-Wabash Garage is a visual knockout because it has a perforated metal screen that expresses the diagonals of its sloping ramps. The same goes for Ralph Johnson's sleek new Contemporaine condo high-rise at 516 N. Wells St., which showcases the diagonal ramps within its base. And at 111 S. Wacker, Goettsch takes the garage to a whole new level, making the most of a ramp that leads from street level to a multistory garage within the office building.

The underside of the ramp swoops through the glassy lobby, its ascent marked by a stepped plaster soffit and fluorescent accent lights. The soffit and the lights dematerialize the heaviness of the concrete ramp, making it seem as weightless as a Japanese fan. This extraordinary visual drama is wrought from the most ordinary facts of everyday life.

Can we have a little more honesty, then? Can we have some garages that aren't afraid to be themselves?

Bright people in the planning department, including Sam Assefa, the new deputy commissioner for urban design, recognize that the long-term solution to the "necessary evil" of the parking garage is to attack the core of the problem rather than the symptom.

It is to make the garages disappear, or at least shrink, by encouraging more people to take buses and trains to work. (Currently, according to the Metropolitan Planning Council, about two-thirds of downtown workers take public transit while the rest drive.) Wisely, the law offers developers "density bonuses" that hold out the carrot of more square footage if they put garages underground.

But Chicago's high water table and often-squishy soil tend to make underground garages extremely expensive. So for now, at least, the big aboveground parking garages aren't going away.

And step one is one for the mayor and his planners to acknowledge that garages can be attractive additions to the cityscape by artfully expressing what they really are. Tacking on flower boxes and false fronts isn't the answer. Why homogenize the city when its glory is the chock-a-block intensity of its often-clashing uses?

The best strategy for the garages is to extend and expand the Chicago tradition of bold, honest architecture rather than going down the road of well-intentioned fakery.

That's something to think about the next time you drive up the parking ramp.

- - -

Great (and not-so-great) moments in the history of Chicago parking garages -- an architectural guide

- 1918 -- Chicago's first multistory parking garage, the Hotel LaSalle Garage, made its debut at 215 W. Washington St. With a brick and terra cotta facade by architects Holabird & Roche, the garage had an innovative interior that combined a ramp and elevator for efficiently moving cars. It's still operating today.

-1926 -- The eclectic Jewelers Building let security-conscious jewelers drive into the skyscraper from lower Wacker Drive. Then elevators would take their cars to assigned parking stalls on the first 22 floors. Because of mechanical failures and the growing size of cars, the system was dropped in 1940. The garage floors were turned into offices.

- 1929 -- Architect M. Louis Kroman took the Art Deco celebration of the car into high gear at the Ritz 55th Garage at 1525 E. 55th St. He festooned its terra cotta facade with every automotive image imaginable: steering wheels, stoplights, tires, gearshifts and a sleek, open-air roadster.

- 1933 -- The Nash Tower at the Century of Progress world's fair used an elevator to showcase the latest models of the now-defunct carmaker. The tower's sleek see-through design also demonstrated the space-saving advantages of mechanical car storage.

- 1955 -- With car ownership soaring after the Depression and World War II, Chicago built numerous down-town parking garages, most of them utilitarian eyesores. This one, constructed at 11 W. Wacker Drive, was dubbed the "bird-cage."

- 1962 -- Rising where Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler's Schiller Building and its Garrick Theater once stood, the Garrick Garage at 60 W. Randolph St. artlessly mimicked the destroyed masterpiece with the ornamental patterns of its concrete grille.

- 1967 -- Bertrand Goldberg's Marina City showed how the words "concrete garage" and "stunningly beautiful" don't have to be mutually exclusive. The complex's circular parking floors formed a delicate, airy base for the corncob-shaped residential towers.

- 1969 -- Its elegantly severe geometry reflecting the high-water mark of postwar modernism, the Madison-Franklin Parking Facility by Chicago architects Schipporeit-Heinrich won a Distinguished Building Award from the American Institute of Architects. It was torn down to make way for an office building.

- 1973 -- The world's busiest airport got what was, when built, the world's biggest parking garage. Designed by C.F. Murphy Associates of Chicago, the 9,266-space garage at O'Hare International Airport has 79 acres of parking that sprawl over six levels.

- 1986 -- Postmodern whimsy came to the parking garage in the Self-Park at 60 E. Lake St., designed by Chicago architect Stanley Tigerman. The hilariously clever facade resembles an oversize Rolls-Royce front with such details as a shiny grille, hood ornament, faux headlights and awnings that look like tire treads.

- 1999 -- Demonstrating how late 20th Century architects were as fascinated by dynamic, diagonal forms as 1930s architects were with streamlining, the Rush-Ohio-Wabash Self-Park by Chicago architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz flaunted a deliberately off-kilter aluminum grid that expresses the angle of the garage's ramps.

- 2004 -- Reflecting Mayor Richard M. Daley's desire to make buildings in Chicago more sensitive to the environment, the roofs of new parking garages are being planted with greenery. At the new Government Center Self-Park at 181 North Clark St., part of the roof is covered with plastic tubs filled with dirt and plants.
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Old December 28th, 2004, 09:05 PM   #172
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State Panel To Consider $178M Near North Facility
By Mark Ruda
Last updated: December 28, 2004 10:00am

CHICAGO-Plans for a $177.5-million independent to assisted-living facility at 55 E. Pearson St. will be considered by the state’s Health Facilities Planning Board in March, 18 months after it won a favorable recommendation from the city’s plan commission. Homewood-based Franciscan Sisters of Chicago Service Corp. is hoping to build a 50-story building on the south side of Pearson Street between Rush Street and Wabash Avenue, replacing two buildings used by Loyola University's Water Tower campus.

The state panel that oversees plans for all new healthcare facilities or expansions is involved because plans for the Clare include a 32-bed skilled nursing facility. Plans for the Clare include one-, two- and three-bedroom rental and for-sale units a block off the Magnificent Mile. The Clare will be one of four projects considered in March, including a $131-million addition and improvement project at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet.
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Old December 28th, 2004, 09:17 PM   #173
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South Side Development

This may have already been in a thread (sry if it was) but i havent seen this development in a thread yet, so i thought id post a quick link to a very cool website. This looks like its gonna get built.[URL=http://www.riversideparkchicago.com/about.html]
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Old December 29th, 2004, 03:27 PM   #174
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Risky business: Real estate deals that went sour

December 29, 2004

BY DAVID ROEDER SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST

Say this for the year 2004 in real estate: It lived up to expectations.

Of course, the expectations weren't much to begin with. The office market spent most of the year in a state of fear, worrying over the impact that new buildings and corporate relocations will have on downtown rents. The industrial market, which had seemed impervious to downturns, finally slowed as the area suffered a continued loss of manufacturing jobs. A consolation is that Chicago, onetime "hog butcher for the world," seems destined to become "warehouser for the world." The salaries will be lower, if not the poetic possibilities.

And then there were condos, condos everywhere. The better the views and the closer to downtown, the better they sold. The entire central area of the city could see about 6,000 new units hitting the market once tabulations for this year are complete, close to the record performance of 1999.

It would seem real estate is still a good game for the financially savvy. But it's a balance of risk and reward. With that in mind, here's a subjective list of the year's biggest losers in development and other aspects of real estate around Chicago.

1. B.J. Spathies -- A onetime high-flier who insisted she could see value where other developers couldn't, Spathies left town in disgrace after handing over her final projects to lender Lehman Brothers. She let herself be swamped by risky financing known as "mezzanine" debt, which is a bit like a person maxing out on credit cards. According to a suit from Lehman, she diverted $3.7 million in condo deposits for other uses, although no buyer apparently lost money. Spathies filed for bankruptcy in July, claiming assets of less than $50,000. It was a sad outcome for one of the few women to become a major developer.

2. Nicholas Gouletas -- The chairman of American Invsco Corp. paid $35 million for the site of the former Columbus Hospital, 2520 N. Lakeview, in 2001. He came up with a three-tower design with units starting at $1 million. It was to mark a new achievement for the condo converter. But the post 9/11 market was troublesome, and his banks grew anxious. He's in default to just about everyone involved in the deal. If the project happens as envisioned, he might be pushed to the sidelines, from which the tireless dealmaker will have a firsthand view of the bridges he burned. He also saw his son, Nicholas Jr., leave Invsco to start his own firm in 2004.

3. Prime Group Realty Trust -- The continued slump in Chicago office leasing has hit this real estate investment trust hard. For years, it kept up the fiction that its portfolio was worth far more than its stock price indicated. When reality hit, shares plummeted. It lost its biggest tenant, Arthur Andersen, and others such as J.P. Morgan Chase and IBM are leaving its buildings. Finally, it somehow messed up sales talks with E. Barry Mansur and Michael Reschke, a former chairman of the company whom the board ousted in 2002. The company OKd the sale, then said the financing wasn't there. Mansur and Reschke deny that. Lawsuits abound.

4. Gov. Blagojevich -- He badly wanted $217 million from a mortgage on the Thompson Center to balance the books. He wanted it so badly that he apparently overlooked state law. Attorney General Lisa Madigan said a three-fifths majority vote is required to put the state in debt, when the legislative roll call on the mortgage fell three votes shy of the threshold. Madigan nullified the mortgage, but after the state incurred some $532,000 in bills for the deal, mostly from lawyers and bond insurers.

5. John Sweeney and Monroe Investment Partners LLC -- They were surprised by a political maelstrom that has left plans for a new South Side shopping center in tatters. They bought the old Ryerson Steel plant at 8301 S. Stewart and wanted Wal-Mart to anchor new construction there. The local alderman backed the project, but the City Council rejected it under pressure from unions. Wal-Mart canceled plans to build anywhere in Chicago. Why should big, bad Wal-Mart be so skittish? Why shouldn't they? Chicagoans already drive to Niles, Bridgeview and other close-in Wal-Marts. So the city, which just raised the sales tax rate, loses the revenue.

Some dishonorable mentions for this list:

*City Hall, which sold Block 37 for a bargain-basement $12.5 million in hopes of spurring its development.

*Trizec Properties Inc., which lost its management contract for Sears Tower worth an estimated $2 million a year.

*Ikea, whose decision to bypass Chicago sites for one in Bolingbrook looked suspiciously like retail redlining.

*Sam Zell's Equity Office Properties Trust, which swallowed a $229 million charge for buying California office buildings now mostly empty.

*Developer Robert Berliner Jr., who couldn't launch a planned high-rise on the Near West Side and is getting squeezed out of a condo project proposed just west of downtown.

A LOOK AHEAD: The national firm Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Brokerage Co. predicts that while demand for office and retail space will be spotty in 2005, investment activity will keep property values high. The firm said U.S. real estate will continue to be prized by foreign investors lured by the falling dollar. Also, pension funds have been boosting real-estate allocations in the name of cash flow.
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Old December 29th, 2004, 07:16 PM   #175
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Wow, he even criticized Block 37. I guess I can't blame him. Lets face it--progress on that site has been pathetically slow.

I'm also dissappointed by that former Columbus Hospital site. Another reason why I continue to decry the city for allowing demolition of structures to occur before funding is found for future developments. I hope the same doesn't happen to the former Scholl Building
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Old December 30th, 2004, 01:46 AM   #176
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- edit
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Old December 30th, 2004, 08:59 PM   #177
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The Morgan, West Loop.
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Old December 30th, 2004, 09:02 PM   #178
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I think it is time to start showing more of the infill in downtown and the other city hoods. There is alot more going than just skyscrapers.

Bigger pic-


Completion 2006.

Last edited by LA1; December 30th, 2004 at 09:07 PM.
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Old December 30th, 2004, 09:05 PM   #179
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Buena Pointe-Uptown
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Old December 30th, 2004, 09:08 PM   #180
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Nice pics, LA. Where is the Morgan? Is it still U/C, pre-construction, or is it already completed?
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