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Old November 11th, 2005, 04:45 PM   #441
Chi_Coruscant
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Convention center hotel may expand

By Kathy Bergen
Tribune staff reporter
Published November 11, 2005

The time may be ripe to build a second tower at the 800-room Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, the city's top convention executive told business and civic leaders Thursday.

Trade show, convention and meeting business is building at the massive exhibition hall, and it will escalate even further with the 2008 opening of the West Building addition, Leticia Peralta Davis, chief executive of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, said in a luncheon speech to the City Club of Chicago.

Also, the travel industry has revived, and the Near South Side is experiencing rapid redevelopment, she said.

"All the things you think of as needing to be aligned are there, are trending positive," she said in an interview after the luncheon. "So maybe now's the time to look at the hotel."

Within the next month, the authority, which owns the hotel and McCormick Place, will retain an outside firm to study the feasibility of adding up to 600 more rooms to the 800-room hotel, as well as a second restaurant and a second ballroom, she said. The existing 33-story hotel was built in 1998 for $108 million.

Managed by Chicago-based Hyatt Corp., the hotel has been profitable, Davis said, generating operating income of $12.6 million to $17 million annually over the past few years, she said.

For the last fiscal year, ended June 30, the hotel had an occupancy rate of 62.4 percent and an average daily room rate of $153.79. By comparison, downtown hotels last year had an average occupancy rate of 70.6 percent and an average daily rate of $154.71, according to Smith Travel Research.

Cost estimates for the second tower and a financing structure have not been determined, although one possibility would be issuing bonds that would be paid back with hotel revenues, Davis said.

Hyatt officials could not be reached for comment.

Such a project is likely to cost more than $100 million, according to Ted Mandigo, president of T.R. Mandigo & Co., an Elmhurst-based hotel consulting firm.

He voiced some concerns over the expansion idea, noting the immediate surrounding area doesn't have a critical mass of restaurants, retail and upscale residential to support the hotel between conventions.

"It would have to live off the convention business and group meeting business," Mandigo said.

And while the West Building will bring in some new meeting business, there will be intensifying competition for that slice of the industry, including from suburban facilities under construction in Schaumburg and Lombard, he said.

The Hyatt expansion idea is being floated just as myriad other hotel projects are being proposed in the city.

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Old November 12th, 2005, 02:53 AM   #442
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Old November 12th, 2005, 08:05 PM   #443
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Some cool info about Columbia College's upcoming plans. From Chicago Journal:

Columbia proposes new student center
After years of making do with aging buildings, college has no small plans

By HAYDN BUSH, Managing editor






File photo
Columbia College students may be getting more space to stretch out and study if a new campus plan is approved.



South Loop
For years, Columbia College Chicago has grown largely by adding one South Loop building at a time, eschewing new construction in favor of collecting aging properties scattered around a neighborhood. But an ambitious new master plan, which Columbia College Vice President of Campus Environment Alicia Berg rolled out an early draft of at a school planning session Nov. 4, would include the first new construction on the South Loop campus in decades, along with a dramatic, arts-inspired effort to liven up South Wabash Avenue.


With the school’s on-campus population projected to rise to 2,800 by 2015, Berg said the school is expected to need another 427,000 square feet of academic space. Berg said the school currently only uses 60 percent of its total square footage, adding that Columbia’s aging buildings devote far too much space to hallways and other areas that aren’t used for activities. The recent acquisition of the old headquarters of the Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies, Berg pointed out, would add a mere 19,700 square feet to the campus.


"It points to how inefficient old buildings are," Berg said. "We haven’t ever done new buildings."


If all of Columbia’s plans are realized—which include a new student center, a media production hub, and a performing arts center—they would cost $160 million, Berg said. The majority of the funding for the new buildings, Berg said, would likely come from a fund-raising campaign expected to start in 2007.


The centerpiece of the new campus would be a 14-story student center on property already owned by Columbia at Eighth and Wabash, which would cost roughly $90 million to build. Originally, Berg said, the student center was slated to rise to only four stories, but with the student population on the upswing, the school decided to maximize its space and build 10 stories of academic space above, with room for expansion on the 14th floor.


The building would include a bookstore, cafe, and four new common rooms for students to gather and study, an amenity Berg said is nonexistent at present.


"Right now, students don’t have space to do work," Berg said.


Vanessa Torres, the president of Columbia’s Student Government Association, said she thought the ideas contained in the new plan are "fantastic," but pressed Berg about the timetable for the fund-raising effort and the construction schedule. Berg, though, demurred, saying the fund-raising campaign would likely not be announced publicly until the school receives a few large private donations.


"You don’t announce and go public until you have starter gifts," Berg said.


Further afield, Columbia is tentatively planning to build a performance center, complete with three theaters, on the south end of campus. Under the new plan, Columbia would also squeeze its campus from the greater South Loop to an area bounded by Congress, Roosevelt Road, State Street and Michigan Avenue, which Berg said would allow the school to sell a few outlying properties to raise cash for other projects.


"South of Roosevelt Road, we would be looking to sell those properties over time," Berg said.


Berg said the school may also decide to demolish some existing buildings, but that most of Columbia’s existing buildings would likely stay intact.


"Columbia has always emphasized sustainable strategies, which has meant reusing some crappy old buildings," Berg said to a series of knowing laughs.


The new master plan will try to establish Wabash Avenue as more a hub for students. When Columbia studied where students walked around campus, the school expected to find that the most trips were made on Wabash, but were surprised to learn that Harrison Street is actually the most heavily trafficked street on campus. Joseph Valerio, an architect with Valerio Dewalt Train who Columbia hired to consult on the new master plan, said he envisioned Wabash Avenue storefronts with student art pieces literally spilling out onto the sidewalk, along with benches and other sidewalk furniture. And Berg said the school, with a mural alongside the Hilton Hotel garage facing onto Wabash, has already begun to spruce up the streetscape there.


Other proposals include the possibility of swirling LED screens in the windows of Columbia buildings at street level, Valerio said.


Dominick Cattone, Columbia’s director of student leadership, said the new emphasis on visual displays meshes well with the school’s emphasis as a media-oriented liberal arts school.


"We’re a visual campus," Cattone said. "It’s about time we did something visually appealing.
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Old November 12th, 2005, 08:06 PM   #444
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Amen!

11/9/2005 10:00:00 PM*
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State Street falls far short of greatness

BONNIE McGRATH


In the South Loop, State Street ain’t That Great Street. Everyone knows the west side of State Street hugs the east side of Dearborn Park. But why, I don’t know—it should be slapping it silly. It’s treated so shabbily, it should pull up its sidewalks and leave. The famous street is getting short shrift from several ordinarily good citizen South Loop homeowner associations—and it’s making me mad as a State Street hatter.


Start at Polk Street, near the Terraces building. Yes, nice lilac bushes line the State Street side of the street, but they still don’t cover up a long line of huge ventilation exhaust panels, which can exude tons of dust and debris right over the bushes and onto State Street. The lilacs must grow to cover these industrial-sized pollution-gushers, so don’t trim them anymore!


At 899 S. State, the same type of foliage lines the high-rise, but since the building is often obscured by scaffolding and other signs of work in progress, the bushes are overshadowed and diminished. At 901 S. State, a three-level open-air parking garage covers a big chunk of the street. It was built in a decidedly different era, and these days, it’s the kind of structure that would have neighbors chaining themselves to light posts to stop it from being constructed. But it’s here to stay, and once again, lilac bushes are not up to the job of sufficiently obstructing it.


Speaking of light posts, this part of State Street needs some new ones. The poles that are there can only take so many years of hanging wires, patchy maintenance, flybills, posts-its and other forms of abuse. How about some nice gaslights like in Little Italy?


Moving south, there are three red midrise buildings, interwoven with townhomes, which are filled with homeowners who have treated State Street like an alley for the last 25 years. Blank red brick walls line the way, punctuated by some tired ivy, electric boxes, strung telephone wires, lots of weeds and rocks and oodles of mud. It’s the Tobacco Road of the South Loop.


Yes, there are a couple of small stained glass windows that face State, as well as some little Gothic square portholes installed by some guilty homeowners looking for redemption. And there is a lovely swimming pool. But it is behind a wrought-iron fence that is generally covered by blue garbage bags. And, glory be—there are also the beginnings of a new strip garden, probably put in by the same homeowners with the quirky windows. Someday, that little garden will be nice—if it isn’t trampled by people trying to get to the utility boxes.


Crossing Roosevelt, it’s apparent that my very own homeowners’ association in Dearborn Park II does its part. We declared our love of our part of State Street years ago by joining the city’s Adopt-a-Street program. You can see the signs attached to the light poles that say the Chicago Homes of Dearborn Park have adopted their street. Although we are giving the street a good home and upbringing, its biological parent, the City of Chicago, hasn’t chipped in with post-birthing costs. They are no flower boxes, no new trees, no fancy street lamps, no nothing. We simply put down a meager amount of mulch around the small trees in front of us, and then concentrate on our own front yards which proudly face the street—unlike our neighbors to the north and south.


After us, there are several townhome complexes to the south which don’t shovel snow, rake leaves, pick up trash, or even bother to look at State Street. They don’t even treat it as well as an alley. It’s more like a back canal. Behind red brick garden walls, they treat State Street as though it might harbor raw sewage—or as thought it doesn’t even exist.


At 15th Street, there is a final group of several single family houses with backyards that face State Street, and they also thumb their nose at The Great Street. They top on my list of homeowners-that-should-be-doing-more-than-they-are, and are so State Street averse that their yards sport bushes on steroids, which block their view entirely and are so deep and heavy that they prevent pedestrians from walking down the street completely. They need hedge trimmers, big time.


I’m convinced that the new residents of State Place at 1111 South State, and future residents of several buildings planned for the east side of the street, will ultimately file nuisance suits. For their part, State Place has invested in a lovely array of trees, plants and planter boxes in front of their building, and they deserve better than what their neighbors have to offer.


Get with it, State Streeters. Halloween is over. Spring is around the corner. And Homeowner Purgatory is at your back.
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Old November 12th, 2005, 09:59 PM   #445
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^I love it! That article should be distributed personally to every person living in Dearborn park I!!! If I were in Chicago, I would do it!
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Old November 12th, 2005, 10:51 PM   #446
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Old November 12th, 2005, 11:06 PM   #447
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Another good new

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Old November 13th, 2005, 07:11 AM   #448
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^ Looks like Chicago's doing a good job attending to the little things also.
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Old November 13th, 2005, 08:07 AM   #449
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Quote:
Yet the revamp plan isn't as bold as one proposed earlier this year by a New York design firm, which floated ideas like plants that grow from underneath the el tracks (Crain's, March 7). The tracks have long been considered a liability for Wabash, creating a dark and noisy atmosphere.


I always thought that would be a good idea for the loop tracks. More vegetation around the actual tracks I think would be a good idea. Nobody has the renderings of what the New York firm proposed do they?

Also a dark maroon sounds ok though I think a green might look better.
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Old November 13th, 2005, 02:59 PM   #450
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HIGH ANXIETY
Tall and thin may be the future, but city's mission must be to see the light -- and patches of blue -- as its new, dazzling towers reach for the sky
By Blair Kamin
Tribune architecture critic
(www.chicagotribune.com)
Published November 13, 2005
Chicago has long been a city of cloud busting skyscrapers, but its latest push toward the sky is enough to make jaws drop, eyes pop and start alarm bells ringing.

Every week, it seems, a rendering of a new tower is splashed across the front page or the business page in the hopes of generating positive "buzz" and attracting potential buyers and investors.

Some of this may be pure hucksterism. Nothing like a sexy architect's rendering to drum up a prospective tenant or two. Still, every proposal bears watching. It's the ugly one we ignore that -- surprise! -- will get built.

The trend goes beyond the biggest headline grabbers, the 2,000-footers that have spawned nicknames such as "the Drill Bit" and "the Tweezer Tower." Not since the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the Sears Tower, the Standard Oil Building (now the Aon Center) and the John Hancock Center redefined the Chicago skyline, have there been such spectacular possibilities for aesthetic payoffs and pratfalls. At stake in this profusion of residential towers and one proposed broadcast tower is the character of North Michigan Avenue, the lakefront, the riverfront and the walls of buildings flanking Grant Park. The skyline is sure to assume a new center of gravity along a new Gold Coast -- the once-foul Chicago River, where Donald Trump's much-hyped, 1,361-foot hotel and condo tower soon will rise out of a construction pit, and more giants may follow.

None of this is accidental. With little public discussion, Mayor Daley's administration has made a dramatic policy reversal, encouraging great height rather than forcing developers to make their towers shorter. At the House of Daley, where the city's architectural cloth gets cut, tall and thin is in. Short and squat is out. It is, on the whole, a change for the better.

City planners envision a skyline comprising pencil thin "point" towers that leave space around them for light and air. When it works, it should be dazzling, offering the best of both worlds -- great height without overwhelming congestion.

Yet all architecture, like all politics, is local. Tall towers do not belong everywhere. Some stand to do as much harm as good, canyonizing streets, dwarfing waterfronts or marring the skyline with bizarre Buck Rogers silhouettes. The emphasis on bigness still has to come to terms with smallness -- the shops, restaurants and other human-scaled features that give cities their accidental, quirky appeal.

Almost no one suggests that Chicago adopt a highly prescriptive set of design rules that would mandate the shape of towers. That could well kill off a building boom that is the envy of other cities and staunch the city's celebrated tradition of innovation.

But there is a need for the city to develop a planning framework that offers specific guidelines about where tall towers should go, how they can be placed so they block as few views as possible, and how they should behave at ground level to avoid the sort of city-deadening blank walls that now blight River North.

Such guidelines offer the prospect of carefully managed growth instead of unchecked, Dodge City growth, a specter that became very real last month when developers J. Paul Beitler and LR Development Co. unveiled plans for a 2,000-foot broadcast tower along the lakefront.

The plan, it turns out, was a slick switcheroo.

For months, the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR), a respected neighborhood group, negotiated with LR over a condominium tower of about 60 stories that was to rise on the west side of Lake Shore Drive just across from Lake Point Tower. Chicago architect Ralph Johnson of Perkins & Will, who has produced some of the city's finest residential towers, designed the structure, whose details haven't been made public. SOAR members were happy with the broad strokes of Johnson's design and with details such as a dog run.

Then they woke up on Oct. 25 and read the front-page story about the broadcast tower, designed by New Haven, Conn., architect Cesar Pelli.

"Basically, it's a giant utility pole," said Brian Hopkins, a SOAR board member.

Following the route usually taken by developers, Beitler and LR only pictured their plan when they announced the tweezer-shaped tower, conveniently ignoring another planned 2,000-foot skyscraper just a few blocks to the south, Santiago Calatrava's Fordham Spire, which would be shaped like a giant drill bit.

Calatrava's design, which still must be financed and receive city approval, appears astonishingly graceful when it stands alone, an extraordinary piece of architectural sculpture that marks a special place in the city, the meeting of the lakefront and the river.

But with the broadcast tower alongside it, as pictured in a composite photo prepared for this story, it looks like one-half of the world's largest set of football goal posts.

This is but one example of the costs of unchecked growth.

Chicago's explosion of tall towers is at once a real estate phenomenon and an urban planning phenomenon, illustrating how quickly ideas from one city can migrate to another in the global age.

One reason for the tall towers, real estate experts say, is that developers have moved from secondary sites, such as the West Loop and the western flanks of River North, to marquee locations, such as North Michigan Avenue. There, land is more expensive and the developers need to build taller so they can make a profit.
Then there is the Trump factor. The developer and reality TV star has pushed Chicago's luxury condominium market to new physical and financial heights, blazing a trail that competitors lust to follow. Trump reportedly is getting stratospheric prices at his Trump International Hotel & Tower -- about $1,000 a square foot, up from roughly $675 a foot when he started selling condos there a few years ago.

"Other developers are looking at his numbers and drooling," says Gail Lissner, vice president of Chicago-based Appraisal Research Counselors.

Last but hardly least is City Hall's changing attitude toward tall buildings, a shift that reflects the growing influence of Vancouver in urban planning circles.

Why Vancouver? Because it offers an eminently livable model of tall, thin high-rise towers set on townhouse podiums.

That prototype clearly is familiar to key city planners, including Lori Healey, the city's new commissioner of Planning and Development, and Sam Assefa a former San Francisco planner who is Daley's deputy chief of staff for economic and physical development.

Assefa helped encourage Chicago architects David Haymes and George Pappageorge to stretch their planned One Museum Park condo tower at the southern end of Grant Park to 720 feet from an initial proposed height of 450 feet. That move shocked the architects, who recognized that the site demanded a commanding presence, but were used to the city's old ways of knocking down height to make towers palatable to neighbors.

"They said: `Can't you make it taller?' We were taken aback by that," Haymes said.

Healey said: "There has been a growing movement in the design community to educate the development world that tall, slender buildings are not bad things . . . [They allow] developers and their architects to be innovative."

Of that, there is little doubt. Look at the contrast between the tall and thin Park Tower, which soars 844 feet above the sidewalk at 800 N. Michigan, and the short and squat Peninsula Hotel building, which sits just to its south at 730-750 N. Michigan, and you see the basic wisdom in the city's shift.

Yes, the mansard-roofed Park Tower, which was designed by Lucien Lagrange Architects, looks like a big yellow rocket ship and could have been more architecturally daring. But it's still a good piece of urban design, with elegant proportions and a silhouette that doesn't overwhelm the neighboring park around the old Chicago Water Tower.

By contrast, the 20-story Peninsula building is a stump, a five-star hotel with a one-star public face.

More skinny towers are on the way, and with Daley warming to adventurous design in the wake of Millennium Park's success, they promise to be fresh and modern rather than tried-and-true traditional.

One intriguing example, now under construction at 340 E. Randolph Drive and designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz, will soar 672 feet and will include a 25th-floor winter garden with exterior glass walls that open in warm weather, allowing residents to proceed onto a terrace and gaze over Millennium Park.

But top-of-the-line amenities for affluent buyers by no means guarantee the quality of the public realm we all inhabit.

As towers rise, so do concerns about snarled traffic, blocked views and pedestrians being blown off their feet by downdrafts that woosh off the sides of skyscrapers. Density is good because it means people can walk or take public transit to their jobs instead of driving. But when it takes 10 minutes to drive a few blocks in Streeterville at rush hour, are we starting to reach the limits of density?

Streeterville is especially vulnerable to congestion at street level, for unlike the Illinois Center mega-development south of the Chicago River, it has no three-tiered subterranean circulation system. Thank goodness for that. But this means Streeterville's narrow, at-grade street grid must carry the load -- delivery vans, garbage trucks, taxis, even the pizza guy.

Such quality-of-life concerns transcend architecture, suggesting that there is far more to the debate over the city's growth than the graceful presence of towers on the skyline. Indeed, while the design standards of the new towers are head and shoulders above the concrete hulks of River North, good architecture in some cases may not be enough.

A fresh example is the newly announced proposal that would replace the banal north tower of the InterContinental Chicago hotel on North Michigan Avenue with an 850-foot hotel and condominium skyscraper while leaving intact the hotel's 42-story Art Deco south tower. The plan, designed by Lucien Lagrange Architects, calls for a glass-sheathed tower that would rise straight up from the North Michigan Avenue sidewalk.

And that has the potential to cause great trouble.

Even though the architectural quality of buildings along North Michigan Avenue has declined precipitously in recent years, it remains a delightful place to walk -- not a darkened canyon, like LaSalle Street, but a boulevard with abundant sunlight and patches of blue sky. The chief reason for this blessing is that nearly all the very tall buildings along North Michigan, from the John Hancock Center to Lagrange's own Park Tower, have towers that are set back from the street, either behind plazas, parks or retail podiums.
The InterContinental proposal offers something very different. While it would have notches in its upper reaches, there would be no setbacks. The architecture is appealing enough, at first glance, and could, with considerable tweaking, form an elegant backdrop for the Art Deco tower to its south.

But if the building rises without a significant setback, it might open the door to other, very tall towers along North Michigan. And that would risk turning the street into a darkened canyon.

Trump's tower offers a taller, bulkier variation on this theme.

No one doubts the ability of its architects, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill of Chicago, to superbly detail the giant. What remains very much in question, however, is whether Trump's mega-tower will overwhelm the riverfront with the substantial girth of its clifflike southern wall. The squat Chicago Sun-Times building that used to occupy the site looked, at best, like a marooned river barge. But at least its seven stories didn't hog the sky.

All this demands a question: Can the city do a better job guiding where tall towers go?

Healey, the planning commissioner, expressed satisfaction with the way things work. When it comes to the placement of skyscrapers, "we respond to the private sector," she said.

Asked if that means the Department of Planning and Development is essentially passive, more like the Department of Reacting and Development, she responded that Chicago does guide growth by regulating density. Many of the new tall buildings, she added, are actually less dense than zoning laws allow.

It's true that Chicago's Planning Unit Development zoning category has been an effective, if secretive, arm-twisting device for winning public amenities. But typically, as the pitiful public art and other decorations tacked onto the bases of the monstrous high-rises of River North reveal, these efforts amount to little more than damage control -- the regulatory equivalent of perfuming the pig.

Why not develop flexible planning guidelines that direct growth in advance rather than forcing planners to engage in futile rear-guard actions?

Architect Johnson, whose credits include the acclaimed Skybridge and Contemporaine high-rises, offers some answers: He suggests that the city spell out where conventional wall-like buildings should go (along Grant Park and the lakefront) and where tall "point" towers would be appropriate (behind the clifflike lakefront wall). City planners, he adds, also could encourage developers to provide lively streetscapes instead of brute walls, lining parking podiums with townhouses, plus the shops and restaurants that provide essential neighborhood gathering places.

"A framework like this might make sense out of what we are doing," Johnson wrote in a series of sketches laying out his ideas. "It's at least better than nothing."

He's right. Without more fine-grained tools to guide growth, Chicago risks becoming a city of mega-projects where the small gets lost in the big and the big is placed indiscriminately amid the cityscape with devastating consequences.

There is a difference between a vital city and a healthy city. In a healthy city, traffic is not perpetually snarled, tall towers inspire awe rather than fear, and there is not a Darwinian struggle for access to light and views. Chicago's reach for the sky is heading in the right direction, but it must be refined if the cityscape is to reach its highest, humanistic potential -- truly healthy rather than merely vital.

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Old November 13th, 2005, 04:16 PM   #451
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CITY REPORT
South Loop condo project swaps land for public park

By Jeanette Almada

Special to the Tribune
Published November 13, 2005

The Community Development Commission has approved a complex land swap between a developer and the city, clearing the way for construction of a 17-story condominium project at Congress Parkway and State Street.

The deal also paves the way for city construction of a public park at Harrison and State Streets.

The swap is part of a compromise by Library Tower LLC, the development entity that Concord Homes created to build the Library Tower condominium project on the west side of State Street.

Under terms of the land exchange agreement, the developer will exchange a parcel at the southwest corner of Harrison and State with a city-owned parcel at the northwest corner of Congress and State.

The developer's original plans ran into resistance from residents of the South Loop neighborhood, who expected a public park to go up on the development site, development commissioners were told Tuesday. They particularly opposed the originally proposed 32-story building, a Department of Planning and Development project manager told commissioners.

The developer agreed to the land exchange and to build a 17-story building after two years of negotiations with neighborhood residents and the alderman. "It has been a long journey. The whole community is satisfied and that is what we wanted," Ald. Madeline Haithcock (2nd) told commissioners.

Library Tower LLC will transfer to the city its 3,542-square-foot development site at 544 S. State St., and in exchange will receive the 4,691-square-foot, city-owned parcel at 500 S. State, according to the Planning Department project manager.

The developer will pay $150,000 to the city because the city-owned parcel, valued at $610,000, is larger than the developer's appraised $460,000 parcel, the Planning Department project manager told commissioners.

At 518 S. State, Library Tower will have 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom, loft-style condos with 865 to 2,130 square feet of space, according to Andrew Baasen, a sales representative. Prices begin at $267,995 and range to $842,485 for a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath penthouse, Baasen said. Half the units have been sold, he said.

The building is designed by Chicago-based Solomon Cordwell Buenz & Associates Inc.

"We are getting buyers from all over the world, empty-nesters and people who want to downsize are coming from the local neighborhood; people coming in from Puerto Rico, from out of state like Arizona, California and Florida," Baasen said. "Some of them want second homes in the city, others have students in the area and want a place for when they come to visit. "

Concord Homes will make a one-time $250,000 contribution to a fund that will be used by the Library Tower condo association to maintain the public park, according to Moises Cukierman, president of land acquisition at Concord Homes' Chicago Urban Division. The association will also direct a portion of assessment fees toward the maintenance fund, Cukierman told commissioners.
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Old November 13th, 2005, 11:06 PM   #452
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^ In the list of projects above, the architect of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel near the Lakeshore East development is written as Solomon Cordwell Buenz. I guess I'm confused. I thought Studio Gang was the architect for that project (??)
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Old November 13th, 2005, 11:50 PM   #453
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The Studio Gang project isn't shown on the graphic, it's a completly different project slated for LSE.... No rendering for the project has yet been made available.
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Old November 15th, 2005, 04:44 PM   #454
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Downtown Chicago tops all in city living
By Antonio Olivo
Tribune staff reporter
Published November 15, 2005


Chicago's downtown housing market leads the country in a widespread revival of residential urban centers, a study set to be released Tuesday reports.

During the 1990s, the city's downtown population jumped by a third to 72,843 residents, according to a report from the Washington-based Brookings Institution, which does not account for the latest wave of condominium development in the Loop, South Loop, Streeterville and nearby neighborhoods.

More significantly, the rate of homeownership downtown increased by 1,500 percent between 1970 and 2000, with four out of every 10 residents owning their own homes. That trend is essential for cities striving to create vibrant "24-hour" downtown neighborhoods, said Eugenie Birch, author of the study, which is based on U.S. Census Bureau data.

"It's all about a combination of features that make Chicago a leader in this regard," said Birch, a University of Pennsylvania researcher. "Chicago's downtown districts are very amenable in that they're near the lake, close to jobs and near restaurants and retail."

The report, called "Who Lives Downtown," analyzed 45 city center communities around the country to detail a return to urban living that picked up steam during the 1990s.

During the mid-20th Century, once bustling urban cores around the country were transformed into primarily commercial centers, filled with office towers and warehouses. What housing remained sometimes deteriorated into flophouses and tenements as new highways and cheaper home prices made suburban living more attractive, the report states.

That changed in the 1990s, as cities such as Detroit and Los Angeles built new sports stadiums and hotels and others such as New York and Philadelphia revived commercial strips.

In recent years, downtowns across the country have become magnets for young professionals, "empty-nesters" and childless couples who want to be close to jobs, museums and restaurants, the study says.

Nearly one-third of Chicago's downtown residents in 2000 were between 25 and 34 years old, while 67 percent held bachelor's degrees, the study shows. About a quarter of Chicago's downtown residents were ages 45 to 64.

In order to maintain long-term prosperity, other downtowns across the country need to achieve the level of ownership already found in Chicago, Birch said.

"If someone invests in a place, they begin to invest in the community, to participate in helping to make the neighborhood a better place," she said. "As you get older and have children, if you can't invest in a home downtown, you're going to leave for the suburbs."
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Old November 16th, 2005, 12:05 AM   #455
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CHA may relocate to CNA building
City grant helping in site's redevelopment


By Thomas A. Corfman

Tribune staff reporter
Published November 15, 2005

Outgrowing its offices on the edge of the West Loop, the Chicago Housing Authority has narrowed its search for a new home to the East Loop headquarters of CNA Financial Corp., which is undergoing a city-subsidized redevelopment.

The CHA would lease as much as 180,000 square feet in CNA's prominent red tower at 333 S. Wabash Ave., according to people familiar with the public housing agency's selection. The CHA would move from 626 W. Jackson Blvd., a 103,000-square-foot building that the agency has owned since 1993.

In a cost-saving move, the agency would also consolidate some operations in neighborhood offices. An estimate of savings could not be determined.

Representatives of the CHA and CNA declined to comment.

The CHA board must still review the selection, and the deal could still collapse. For example, in 2002 the Cook County Board abandoned plans to buy the former Helene Curtis building, 325 N. Wells St., for a new domestic violence court after Mayor Richard Daley disapproved the plan.

The CHA deal would be a big boost to the $58.5 million conversion of the 45-story CNA Center from a single-tenant structure to one that would accommodate multiple firms. In February the Daley administration agreed to help fund the project with a $13.5 million subsidy, part of a deal to keep the company's 3,000 employees in Chicago. The tax increment financing agreement is awaiting City Council approval.

"It shows the city's commitment to help CNA," said tenant representative Alain LeCoque, managing principal with Newmark & Co. Real Estate Inc. "They gave them a TIF and now they are giving them a tenant."

The TIF subsidy would be key in the agency's selection of the CNA building, assuming other factors were roughly even, observers say.

Before moving to the edge of the West Loop, the CHA had for many years leased space at 22 W. Madison St. The agency moved to its own building in part to save money on property taxes, which the CHA would again pay as a tenant in a commercial office building.

Property taxes are just one factor in a tenant's rents, and they could be offset by lower operating expenses and cheaper base rent, which is the amount that landlords put in their pockets. "It comes down to total overall dollars, wherever they may go to," LeCoque said.

At CNA Center annual taxes and operating expenses combined are $12.50 a square foot, according to real estate research firm CoStar Group.

CNA, a commercial property and casualty insurer, no longer needs all the space in the 1.1 million-square-foot building, which was built in 1972. The company's real estate adviser, Chicago real estate firm John Buck Co., is marketing four floors totaling 207,000 square feet of space, CoStar Group says. As much as 300,000 square feet of space could be put on the market once the rehab is completed.

The deal is also a boost to the East Loop office market, where vacancy rates are higher than the downtown average.

"Given that it's been flat over the last couple years, it's a real positive for the East Loop as a whole," said Michael Klein, a principal with Chicago-based GlenStar Properties LLC, which in a joint venture is acquiring 55 E. Monroe St., another building near CNA Center.

The CHA has been reviewing its real estate needs since March 2004, when the agency hired the Chicago office of tenant representative Staubach Co. The agency has been looking to lease for about 15 years between 170,000 square feet and 180,000 square feet of space, sources said.

The agency acquired its headquarters when the loft office boom in the area west of the Loop was in its in early stages.
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Old November 16th, 2005, 09:59 PM   #456
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Strategic Hotels to Test Condo Market at Fairmont
By Mark Ruda
Last updated: November 15, 2005 03:13pm
http://www.globest.com/news/415_415/.../140242-1.html

CHICAGO-Even though Donald Trump is among the players in the local hotel condominium market, Strategic Hotels & Resorts sees a still untapped market, and hopes to begin selling units in at least one of its Downtown holdings before the end of the year. The REIT will test the market by attempting to sell up to 156 units at the Fairmont hotel overlooking Millennium Park as condominium and fractional ownership units.

“Our market research has indicated that despite the growing number of for-sale condominiums in the Chicago market, there may be a separate demand for fractional ownership within the context of the full-service, branded, luxury hotel format,” says president and chief executive officer Laurence S. Geller during his company’s recent earnings conference call. The test marketing at the 692-room Fairmont, which the company acquired for $158 million earlier this year, will include an equal number of condominium hotel units that will be models for new Gold rooms in the rest of the property at 200 N. Columbus Dr., and fractional ownership units that will be two-bedroom apartments.

If the test marketing is successful, Strategic Hotels & Resorts could sell up to eight entire floors under the condominium and fractional ownership concepts. “If it’s not successful, the downside is we have a great two-bedroom apartment unit to offer,” Geller says.

Further west, Strategic Hotels & Resorts hopes to replace the north tower of the InterContinental with a 71-story building that will include 310 condominiums in addition to 150 hotel suites as well as 11,000 sf of new Michigan Avenue retail space. “We believe there’s a real opportunity to take advantage of a large and strong residential premium for Michigan Avenue condominiums, particularly on the higher floors,” Geller says.

The company will likely sell air rights to a developer, who would built the new tower after landing financing, Geller says. “We’re not a high-rise residential developer, and we’re not in the business of taking high-rise residential development risk,” Geller says. If the company does not proceed with its InterContinental plans, it will have zoning in place to pass on to a new owner, he adds.

The remaining 330-room hotel, built in 1928, would remain but undergo renovations to reposition the rooms for the luxury market, company officials say. Lucien Lagrange Architects has been hired to design the new InterContinental tower while Rockwell Group is working on designs at the Fairmont hotel.
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Old November 17th, 2005, 12:35 AM   #457
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Prudential Plaza readied for sale

THOMAS A. CORFMAN

Published November 16, 2005

Another Chicago landlord is looking to take advantage of the dynamic investment market, as Shorenstein Properties LLC prepares to put up for sale Prudential Plaza, the two-building office complex overlooking Millennium Park.

Eastdil Realty Co. is expected to be hired to market the development, which includes the original Prudential Building at 130 E. Randolph St., built in 1955, and Two Prudential Plaza at 180 N. Stetson Ave., built in 1990, sources said.

A spokesman for the San Francisco investment firm declined to comment, except to say, "As an active investor, we are constantly buying and selling assets."

The largest tenants in the 2.1 million-square-foot complex are Peoples Energy Corp., with 238,700 square feet under a lease that runs until 2014, and law firm Baker & McKenzie, with 187,700 square feet under a lease that runs until late 2012.

Base rents (the amount landlords actually pocket after expenses), parking revenue and other income is at least $40 million a year, according to documents related to a June refinancing.

After the defection from Pru Two earlier this year of a key tenant, Deloitte & Touche, the vacancy rate has risen to 18.5 percent this year, according to CoStar Group. But a strong pipeline of leases could quickly backfill as much as half of the 310,000 square feet the accounting firm occupied.

A Shorenstein investment fund bought Pru Plaza five years ago for $387 million. The company itself has a 7.1 percent ownership stake.

Treasure Island in Loop: The joint venture building Lakeshore East has signed its first retail tenant in the massive mixed-used development overlooking Grant Park.

Treasure Island Foods Inc. has signed a 15-year lease for 27,000 square feet in a proposed three-story, 85,000-square-foot retail building, said David Carlins, president with Magellan Development Group Ltd., which is a joint venture partner with NNP Residential and Development. The upscale grocer currently has six locations.

To be completed in the third quarter of 2006, the retail center would be located just north of a high-end condominium high-rise under construction at 340 E. Randolph St.

Hoffman Estates mall sold: Mid-America Real Estate Corp. has handled the sale of a 158,300-square-foot shopping center in Hoffman Estates anchored by Dominick's, said Rick Drogosz, a principal with the Oakbrook Terrace real estate firm. Located at Golf and Barrington Roads in the northwestern suburb, the center is 93 percent leased.

The price was almost $23.4 million, and the seller was a venture managed by Deerfield real estate investor Jerry Jaeger, according to sources and property records. The buyers are private investors based in Tarzana, Calif., whose projected return is about 7.2 percent.

URS lease in Hartford Plaza: URS Corp. has leased almost 51,600 square feet of space at Hartford Plaza, 100 S. Wacker Drive, consolidating two local offices, said Steven LaKind, executive managing director with Studley Inc., which represented the San Francisco planning and design firm.

With the 12-year lease, URS is combining offices located at 122 S. Michigan Ave. and 1701 Golf Rd. in Rolling Meadows.

Loans arranged: GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corp. said it has arranged long-term loans totaling $36.5 million for a 1.5 million-square-foot distribution center in south suburban University Park leased to Solo Cup Co.

The development is owned by Barrington investor Marvin Herb, who acquired the site two years ago from developer USAA Realty Co., records show. The lender is a unit of insurance firm Aegon Group.
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Old November 17th, 2005, 05:54 AM   #458
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Ugh... there goes the naming rights to another Chicago building
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Old November 17th, 2005, 09:56 AM   #459
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Ok, some will slam me for this but I wish they would tear down the old Prudential. The thing is just but ugly in my view. I know it has been an important building in the city for many years in many respects but with its prime location and high visiblity there should/would be something to take its place that I bet would go up that would be much more aesthetically pleasing.
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Old November 17th, 2005, 03:09 PM   #460
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*begin slam* At one point, One Prudential Plaza was the tallest building in Chicago and serves as a fantastic point of reference for just how far we've come. Tear it down and we start to lose appreciation for what we're capable of now. *end slam*
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