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Old May 24th, 2005, 04:35 AM   #101
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Bravo BVic, and to all the other Chicago Forumers, well done! You guys are being heard, and being noticed. How freekin awesome is that. I wish I could be a part of this "gang of students" supporting urbanism, and battling the NIMBYS. I cant wait to see what you few guys may have just started. Time will tell, but I believe nothing but good will come of this.....
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Old May 24th, 2005, 07:42 AM   #102
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I am sooooo there. Hope I can find you guys (I don't know what you look like Butler, but, I can spot Shawn from a mile away )
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Old May 24th, 2005, 02:41 PM   #103
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Originally Posted by geoff_diamond
I am sooooo there. Hope I can find you guys (I don't know what you look like Butler, but, I can spot Shawn from a mile away )
I'm 5'4", and I have braids in my hair, which should give you a clue to my ethnicity. Shawn and I will be together, so you can't miss me...
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Old May 26th, 2005, 05:24 AM   #104
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"how is this a precedent when the Heritage did the very same thing a few years ago"

It differs because the buildings at Randolph (like the old bank at LaSalle/Madison) were not formally designated a landmark. The buildings on Jeweler's Row are city landmarks, though, and they were landmarked for good reason: the lower property values along Wabash made it one of the few remaining parts of the Loop which maintained the pre-WW2 scale of the Loop

And this matters why? Up until now, Chicago Landmark designation was a pretty good sign that the historic scale and character of a neighborhood would be maintained into perpetuity. Facade reconstructions done elsewhere, as with the McGraw-Hill on Michigan Avenue, have maintained the scale of the historic building even in much higher density contexts.

Now, we have no such guarantee: as with non-landmark areas, the (endlessly fungible) zoning will control the scale of development. There is now nothing stopping the owners of ANY of the lower buildings on Michigan Avenue from doing exactly the same thing; there are eight story buildings fronting Grant Park.

Currently, a pedestrian walking along the west side of Michigan or leaving the Art Institute experiences the same relatively intimate scale of construction that someone arriving in the city in the 1920s would have ("Road to Perdition" has a great scene of this); they see the same ensemble of buildings that millions saw in TV coverage of the 1968 riots. The Michigan Avenue streetwall is one of Chicago's treasures, and now its scale--already compromised by large buildings like CNA and 55 E Monroe--could be lost altogether.

Many other Chicago Landmark districts and buildings, besides the Michigan streetwall, are smaller than existing zoning allows: Motor Row, Prairie Avenue, Old Town Triangle, Printer's Row, the Rookery, the Chicago Theater, the Chicago Cultural Center, even City Hall. This tower is quite beautiful, but now we cannot legitimately tell someone "no, you can't tear down an Old Town cottage [leaving the front facade] to build a cinder-block palace three times as tall as your neighbors." We can't tell the owners of the Rookery or the Santa Fe buildings that they can't rip out their stunning light courts and slide 80-story buildings right in. (Chicago's landmark ordinance, unlike New York's, does not protect building interiors.)

Some more points to consider:
- The tower will cast shadows upon two Louis Sullivan landmarks (the Gage Building and the Jewelers' Building) and the Crown Fountain. The parking garage will be plainly visible from Millennium Park, towering over the Gage Group.

- The current condition of the buildings has nothing to do with their actual utility. The Art Institute (the owner) has been sitting on them for a while, looking for an opportunity to sell them to a developer. Why invest in them when you could sit tight for a few months/years and cash out instead?

- There is NOT a bottomless market for development. Really. I'm certainly in favor of increased density and activity, but we should remember that overdevelopment in one location can lead to underdevelopment in another, and deeper boom/bust cycles. There are still vacant buildings nearby to reuse: CNA Plaza is a third empty, 59 E Van Buren sits completely empty, and vacant lots are as close by as Randolph or Van Buren and Wabash (not to mention the 20,000 vacant lots elsewhere in the city!). There's no need to make zombies out of not only serviceable, but beautiful, buildings in the name of "progress."

- Wall to wall high rises fronting the lake is actually not the best idea. What other cities have understood is that it's actually best to have the highest buildings set back further from the water; that way, buildings right at the edge don't block the views for other people. Cities like Vancouver, Toronto, and San Francisco are very careful about making sure that new high-rises don't block off views for other residents; we can plan carefully so that we can share our views, rather than have a few people monopolize them. (Imagine how much more lively Broadway in Edgewater would be if it was zoned for high-rises while Sheridan was zoned for mid-rises--to give just one example.)

- There are also other ways to mix development and historic preservation. In other cities, like NYC and LA, "transferable development rights" allow the owners of landmark buildings to sell the phantom "development rights" (the buildings that they could build, if they illegally tore down their building) to the owners of nearby, non-landmark sites. Thus, the small buildings around South Street Seaport in Manhattan, or the historic Central Library in Los Angeles, sold off their development rights--and developers of neighboring buildings got to build taller buildings next door. The landmark district maintains its historic scale, and developers get to build tall buildings; everyone wins.
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Old May 26th, 2005, 11:48 PM   #105
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^So your sayin that we should protect landmarked buildings even if a majority of the space within is empty? The upper floors of these buildings for the most part have been vacant for years, bringing nothing to the the neigborhood, and certainly nothing to the city as a whole.

I think it is and should be about economic balance, as well as the impact at sidewalk level. This tower will have very little impact at sidewalk level once complete, other than attracting new and/or better retailers. It will surely have impact on the economics of the neighborhood, which in turn bring in more of a tax base to the city. Certainly more than empty space would.

Just my thoughts...
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Old May 27th, 2005, 01:58 AM   #106
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From the Chicago Journal
http://chicagojournal.com/main.asp?S...77&TM=52830.87

Facade face-lift
A new setting on Jeweler’s Row
Thursday, May 26, 2005

By HAYDN BUSH, Staff Writer




Jeweler’s Row Chicago Journal file photo

The so-called facadectomy of three modest, landmarked Jeweler’s Row buildings sailed past the Chicago Plan Commission last Thursday, clearing the way for a 71-story condo tower to rise behind the historic fronts.

Most of the public speakers at Thursday’s hearing in City Hall—a mix of architecture students, local business owners, and community groups—enthused about the building’s architectural merit and potential impact on the neighborhood. David Bahlman, executive director of the Land-marks Preservation Council of Illinois, offered measured praise for the project but decried the potential effect the plan’s ap-proval would have on the city’s other historic districts. With 42nd Ward Alderman Burton Natarus leading the charge, the Plan Commission unanimously ap-proved the project.

"This will liven up the street and make the street a little more cheery," Natarus said.

The slim, triangular high-rise would be constructed above three, five-story buildings be-tween 21-35 S. Wabash. The 71-story building would also preserve ground-floor retail space and renovate the building’s facade while reserving the next two floors for the School of the Art Institute. The School of the Art Institute currently rents the building at the northeast corner of Wabash and Monroe.

The next eight floors would be reserved for parking. The 13th floor would boast a fitness center that includes a pool and squash courts and would connect to the adjacent University Club via a skybridge. After that, 57 floors of condominiums would follow.

Department of Planning and Development Project Manager Madeleine Doering said the 71-story building would mesh well with the nearby CNA building and the 55 E. Monroe Tower, and would breathe fresh life into Wabash Avenue. Currently, several of the storefronts are vacant, and many of the office spaces above have been boarded up.

"This will redevelop three underutilized buildings and 176,000 square feet of functionally obsolete space," Doering said.

Bahlman, meanwhile, said that while he thought the project would indeed reinvigorate a dreary stretch of the Loop, he questioned the city’s disregard for the historic district designation. The buildings, Bahlman said, are part of only 10 percent of the Loop that fall in historic districts.

Bahlman added that he believed the building would weaken existing landmark districts in the city and give local property owners a chance to put the city in a compromising position.

"Its approval will present an unfortunate precedent for all local landmark districts," Bahl-man said, adding that he didn’t believe the project was given a fair public test.

Preservation Chicago Pres-ident Jonathan Fine, meanwhile, offered a swift, wholesale denunciation of the project on its merits.

"We don’t condone new buildings in front of historically significant ones," Fine said.

Most of the public speakers Thursday, though, agreed with Natarus.

Illinois Institute of Technol-ogy architecture student Butler Adams fairly gushed about the way the building would dramatically change the Chicago skyline, and noted that many of the windows of the three historic buildings are currently boarded up. He said the narrow triangular tower would also create a stair-step effect, starting with the Boul Mich streetwall and leading to the Sears Tower. Adams predicted that building would serve as a catalyst for a more vibrant downtown, bursting with activity 24 hours a day,

"I’m 100 percent in favor of this project," Adams said. "This is elegant."

Dennis Harder, senior vice president at the Joseph Green Association real estate firm that owns Carson Pirie Scott, said the project would add vitality to the surrounding area while also restoring the current street-level views.

"We’re very much in support of this from the point of view of a landlord," Harder said.

Other speakers in favor of the project included Grant Park Advisory Council President Bob O’Neill and Laura Jones, associate director of the Greater State Street Council.

For his part, Natarus added, Wabash Avenue needs a wholesale face-lift that would include the demolition of the elevated tracks running through the middle of the street. Natarus wistfully mused about long-gone plans to tear down the Loop and replace the el tracks with subways.

"Everyone thinks that’s a landmark," Natarus said. "I thought it should be demolished."
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Old May 27th, 2005, 02:46 AM   #107
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Illinois Institute of Technol-ogy architecture student Butler Adams fairly gushed about the way the building would dramatically change the Chicago skyline, and noted that many of the windows of the three historic buildings are currently boarded up. He said the narrow triangular tower would also create a stair-step effect, starting with the Boul Mich streetwall and leading to the Sears Tower. Adams predicted that building would serve as a catalyst for a more vibrant downtown, bursting with activity 24 hours a day,

"I’m 100 percent in favor of this project," Adams said. "This is elegant."

Is that you in the article, BVic? If so, your little ass just cant keep still, can you?
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Old May 27th, 2005, 03:12 AM   #108
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^So your sayin that we should protect landmarked buildings even if a majority of the space within is empty? The upper floors of these buildings for the most part have been vacant for years, bringing nothing to the the neigborhood, and certainly nothing to the city as a whole.

I think it is and should be about economic balance, as well as the impact at sidewalk level. This tower will have very little impact at sidewalk level once complete, other than attracting new and/or better retailers. It will surely have impact on the economics of the neighborhood, which in turn bring in more of a tax base to the city. Certainly more than empty space would.

Just my thoughts...
I second that.
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Old May 27th, 2005, 03:16 AM   #109
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChgoLvr83
Illinois Institute of Technol-ogy architecture student Butler Adams fairly gushed about the way the building would dramatically change the Chicago skyline, and noted that many of the windows of the three historic buildings are currently boarded up. He said the narrow triangular tower would also create a stair-step effect, starting with the Boul Mich streetwall and leading to the Sears Tower. Adams predicted that building would serve as a catalyst for a more vibrant downtown, bursting with activity 24 hours a day,

"I’m 100 percent in favor of this project," Adams said. "This is elegant."

Is that you in the article, BVic? If so, your little ass just cant keep still, can you?
^BVic has become a local celeb.

When I finally meet Butler I'm gonna ask for his autograph
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Old May 27th, 2005, 08:14 PM   #110
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Hehe, I got to witness, first-hand, the rapport that Butler has developed with some of the heavy-hitters in the Chicago real-estate game (the owners of Mesa Development in this instance). Butler - you're certainly making a name for yourself :0


Quote:
Now, we have no such guarantee: as with non-landmark areas, the (endlessly fungible) zoning will control the scale of development. There is now nothing stopping the owners of ANY of the lower buildings on Michigan Avenue from doing exactly the same thing;
I would hardly say that there's "nothing" stopping the destruction of historic buildings. These things still need to be approved on a case-by-case building, and I have faith that the powers that be realize the importance of protecting the buildings along the Michigan streetwall. Wabash is a completely different (and desolate) story. Perhaps I'm just naive, but, I simply can't fathom Burt Natarus ever allowing anything bad to happen to the most important part of his entire ward (Michigan Ave).
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Old May 29th, 2005, 02:22 PM   #111
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CITY REPORT
Plan Commission OKs 71-story tower on Wabash

By Jeanette Almada

Special to the Tribune
Published May 29, 2005

The Chicago Plan Commission has approved a $300 million, 71-story condominium building to go up in the Jewelers Row Historic District.

Chicago-based Mesa Development will build the tower, through Monroe/Wabash Development LLC, on a 40,000-square-foot site at 21-39 S. Wabash Ave., occupied by four buildings.

Mesa is under contract to buy three of the buildings from the Art Institute of Chicago, which will occupy 41,000 square feet of space in the new tower, according to Richard Hanson, a principal at Mesa.

The developer will enter into a right of easement agreement, in perpetuity, for ground-floor space in the existing Sharp Building, at 37-39 S. Wabash, where Mesa will build its lobby to the residential portion of the tower, Hanson said in an interview last week.

The tower will have up to 360 condos ranging from an about 900-square-foot one-bedrooms to much larger penthouses, according to Gary Klompmaker, an architect at Solomon Cordwell Buenz & Associates, which designed the building.

The residential portion of the tower, to occupy the building's 15th through 71st floors, will be accessed at 60 E. Monroe St. There will be more than 8,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space, which Hanson said he will not begin to market for several years because the project is in early planning stages.

He estimated that 35 to 50 percent of the units must be sold before Mesa can begin construction. The average price of units will be in the high $300,000s, Hanson estimated. Sales will begin in February.

The tower is designed with four major setbacks, Department of Planning and Development staff told the Chicago Plan Commission this month. One is at the sixth floor, where the tower meets the cornices of the three late 19th Century building facades, which will be incorporated into the design, Klompmaker said. The other three, on the 15th, 42nd and 60th floors, will have landscaped green space to be used by residents.

The Art Institute will occupy space on the second and third floors. An 18,000-square-foot athletic facility with pool, five squash courts and workout rooms will be on the 13th and 14th floors, and will be connected to the University Club via a 13th-floor sky bridge, Planning Department officials told plan commissioners.

Mesa is negotiating with a syndicate of banks for financing, Hanson told commissioners.

Though City Council approval of the tower is still needed, the Plan Commission's approval of the project as a planned development is a major step in a lengthy dispute between preservationists who oppsed the building and city planners who championed the project.

Critics charge that the project sets a precedent that allows high-rises to go up in otherwise low-rise historic districts -- no more than 300 feet tall in the Wabash Avenue Jewelers Row Historic District. "I don't understand why we set up these historic districts, then ignore the guidelines that protect them," David Bahlman, executive director of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, told commissioners.

His organization, in its June board meeting, will consider filing a suit against the city for violation of historic district guidelines, Bahlman said in an interview last week. He conceded, though, that such action might be futile.

"We went to the Supreme Court to fight Soldier Field and that didn't stop that development, and yet this is a slippery slope that sets a terrible, terrible precedent. Everyone is so high on the fact that this is doing good things for the city, good things for the Art Institute, good things for Wabash Avenue and for contributing buildings that are in decay. But there has been no discussion about shadow studies, traffic studies, and they are ignoring the fact that there is a historic district there," Bahlman said.

" . . . For as long as the city has had a landmark district program, it has respected prevailing building heights. Now they are throwing that guideline out, and we think it will be much more difficult for the city to fend off other developers in the future [who want to build non-compliant projects] in historic districts," Bahlman said.

City officials told the Plan Commission that the new tower will enliven a dark and dank Wabash Avenue. Ald. Burton Natarus, a plan commissioner whose 42nd Ward includes the tower site, asserted that Wabash Avenue is a special circumstance, a dark commercial street diminished by unsightly elevated tracks.

He added that he championed demolition of those tracks decades ago, while preservationists fought to have the "L" protected with landmark status.

"Wabash Avenue may be called a Jewelers Row but that strip is dirty, it's tacky, it's seedy," Commissioner Nancy Pacher said as she approved the project. "It looks awful; it doesn't look like a Jewelers Row. It looks like a cheap fast-food strip, and I, for one, can't wait until this development takes place."
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Old May 29th, 2005, 02:27 PM   #112
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BVictor1
CITY REPORT
Plan Commission OKs 71-story tower on Wabash

By Jeanette Almada

Special to the Tribune
Published May 29, 2005

The Chicago Plan Commission has approved a $300 million, 71-story condominium building to go up in the Jewelers Row Historic District.

"Wabash Avenue may be called a Jewelers Row but that strip is dirty, it's tacky, it's seedy," Commissioner Nancy Pacher said as she approved the project. "It looks awful; it doesn't look like a Jewelers Row. It looks like a cheap fast-food strip, and I, for one, can't wait until this development takes place."
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Old May 29th, 2005, 04:52 PM   #113
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A new city is being built right under our very own eyes!
Simply amazing...

Does anyone know if this is the third tallest highrise going up after the Trump and the Waterview? I know there are several 50+ story highrises approved for construction, but I think this is the only one that breaks 70 stories. Maybe the Elysian and 800 S. Wabash? Or One Museum Park (but I think this will be 63 stories)? Also I hear the Presbyterian Tower will be upwards of 60+ stories.
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for the Pelasgians, too, were a Greek nation originally from the Peloponnesus
The Roman Antiquities of Dionysius of Halicarnassus
http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/...assus/1B*.html

Macedonia, of course, is a part of Greece". Strabo, VII, Frg. 9
http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/...ragments*.html

But north of the gulf, the first inhabitants are Greeks called Epirotes....
Procopius
http://books.google.com/books?id=9m6...page&q&f=false

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Old May 29th, 2005, 05:41 PM   #114
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OTP, any rendering on 830 S. Wabash? I think it supposed to be supertall, not sure.
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Old May 29th, 2005, 06:59 PM   #115
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chicagogeorge
A new city is being built right under our very own eyes!
Simply amazing...

Does anyone know if this is the third tallest highrise going up after the Trump and the Waterview? I know there are several 50+ story highrises approved for construction, but I think this is the only one that breaks 70 stories. Maybe the Elysian and 800 S. Wabash? Or One Museum Park (but I think this will be 63 stories)? Also I hear the Presbyterian Tower will be upwards of 60+ stories.
Yes, this building is right behind Waterview Tower in terms of height.
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Old May 29th, 2005, 07:15 PM   #116
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^
Is it too early to talk about completion dates??
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for the Pelasgians, too, were a Greek nation originally from the Peloponnesus
The Roman Antiquities of Dionysius of Halicarnassus
http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/...assus/1B*.html

Macedonia, of course, is a part of Greece". Strabo, VII, Frg. 9
http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/...ragments*.html

But north of the gulf, the first inhabitants are Greeks called Epirotes....
Procopius
http://books.google.com/books?id=9m6...page&q&f=false
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Old May 30th, 2005, 02:47 AM   #117
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paytonc
"
- There is NOT a bottomless market for development. Really. I'm certainly in favor of increased density and activity, but we should remember that overdevelopment in one location can lead to underdevelopment in another, and deeper boom/bust cycles. There are still vacant buildings nearby to reuse: CNA Plaza is a third empty, 59 E Van Buren sits completely empty, and vacant lots are as close by as Randolph or Van Buren and Wabash (not to mention the 20,000 vacant lots elsewhere in the city!). There's no need to make zombies out of not only serviceable, but beautiful, buildings in the name of "progress."
.pc
I had been almost completely pro-development on this case until I read Payton's thoughtful piece. I had assumed these properties as they were were not viable, and the fact that they had been sitting boarded up, idle, all this time was proof enough. But as Payton pointed out, the prediction of higher density development may have served as a disincentive for the Art Institute, as owner, to invest in the property. Payton, do you have any evidence of this, or is this speculation?

Also, I thought 59 East Van Buren -- designed by Holabird and Root -- was mostly occupied. What happened with that property?
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Old May 31st, 2005, 01:04 AM   #118
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" I simply can't fathom Burt Natarus ever allowing anything bad to happen to the most important part of his entire ward (Michigan Ave)."

Well, you have much more faith in Burt than I do. Also, re-read this:

"The current condition of the buildings has nothing to do with their actual utility. The Art Institute (the owner) has been sitting on them for a while, looking for an opportunity to sell them to a developer. Why invest in them when you could sit tight for a few months/years and cash out instead?"

The buildings are perfectly usable right now for AIC uses, but the AIC decided a few years ago to bet instead that they could get the site upzoned. If they hadn't expected to get an upzone, I'm sure the buildings would be fully occupied right now. That's the way land speculation works: it's most obvious with surface parking lots, where there's no incentive to build a 5-story building today when you could, perhaps, maybe, build a 50-story building in ten years. This cycle benefits only the landowners, and we the citizens should not encourage it through willy-nilly upzoning (or downzoning).

In the late 1990s, the Art Institute had plans to rehab the Jewelers Row and Evans Fur (State/Monroe, now Metropolis Lofts) buildings for SAIC dormitory and classroom space--as they did with the Chicago Building at State/Madison. However, the AIC's endowment was hit hard by the stock market downturn and suspended its real estate development activities, putting its vacant buildings up for sale.

Again, if Chicago had a Transferable Development Rights scheme, Mesa could have purchased a nearby site for its tower and bought development rights from the Art Institute to build the tall tower you guys want. The AIC would get the cash to rehab its space, a vacant lot would be filled, the tower would still get built, and the scale of the Loop's two most important historic districts would still be preserved into perpetuity.
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Old May 31st, 2005, 02:50 AM   #119
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paytonc
The buildings are perfectly usable right now for AIC uses, but the AIC decided a few years ago to bet instead that they could get the site upzoned. If they hadn't expected to get an upzone, I'm sure the buildings would be fully occupied right now. That's the way land speculation works: it's most obvious with surface parking lots, where there's no incentive to build a 5-story building today when you could, perhaps, maybe, build a 50-story building in ten years. This cycle benefits only the landowners, and we the citizens should not encourage it through willy-nilly upzoning (or downzoning).
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^Payton, despite obviously great points you make in arguing against this development, I'll have to say that I disagree with you, mostly on the basis that this development brings more to the area than it takes away.

Lets look at the situation. Chicago is a city that, more than New York, has suffered in the past 50 years. Despite looking like a city that "has it made", Chicago is actually a city that very nearly collapsed in the past 15-20 years, and at some point was, most assuredly, quite desperate.

Chicago is quite afloat now in a new demographic trend in which people suddenly are interested in cities, culture, and using public transportation. Considering the bottomless pit that Chicago was facing as recently as 10 years ago, I think it is safe to say that the city should ride this wave as enthusiastically as possible.

I think Chicago is showing remarkable poise and consideration, considering the abounding opportunities. Although many historical structures have been demolished, the city has also worked to preserve many structures and districts. In the end, though, I think the city is hedging its bets that it would be better off adding density to otherwise virtually dead areas, rather than hoping for the possibility of renovation. It's not unreasonable for Chicago to strike some sort of a compromise, such as preserving facades, even though it may disrupt the integrity of an historic district. In the end, the city is thinking about all possibilities and allowing for a discussion, but choosing what is probably better over all.

Think about it, what's actually better for downtown? Restored old buildings with relatively little activity (but attractive to historians), or restored facades with levels of density and activity not seen for decades, adding to the tax base--yet still not looking like Houston because pieces of history still dominate the street?

The best example I can give is the Noble Fool's Theater. I walked by it on my last visit and noticed that it was sort of the "facade" of the building with a highrise built atop it. To me, it looked like a great synthesis, and certainly gave the area a feeling of "age" and "history" despite the fact that it had likely been completely gutted and its scale warped by the presence of a highrise behind it.

What will happen in 67 South Wabash is likely to be even less dramatic than that, since pedestrians will barely even notice that a highrise pops out of the tops of those buildings. A 30 foot setback is not bad. The same goes for the Heritage at Millennium Park.

I like the development, and those are my reasons
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Old June 7th, 2005, 02:40 PM   #120
BVictor1
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GAZETTE


New high rises planned for the Loop and South Loop draw much attention and debate

By Marie Balice Ward

(6/3/05) - Two new high rises are being developed at Monroe St./Wabash Ave. and at 830 S. Michigan Ave. Presentations were sponsored by the Grant Park Advisory Council and the Grant Park Conservancy which was attended by more than 70 people, most of whom are in favor of the planned high rises and their co-existence with historical buildings, explained Grant Park Advisory Council and Conser-vancy President Bob O’Neill. One dissenting vote for the Monroe St./Wabash Ave. project was the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois.
“We diligently supported the ‘land marking’ of the Grant Park/Michigan Avenue Street Wall creating the Historic Michigan Boulevard District,” O’Neill stated. “We thought it was important in preserving very beautiful and historic buildings. The Jewelers Row District and the Historic Michigan Boulevard District are very important but need an infusion of capital to bring life back to so many of the decaying historic buildings.
“It may seem a contradiction,” said O’Neill, “but high rises and the greening of Chicago go hand-in-hand: a close to perfect fit! High rises and landscaping are integral to the fabric of downtown Chicago and environmentally essential to a cleaner, greener city. We need to continue to create more natural landscapes in the city to complement our high rises. High rises prevent suburban sprawl and lead to more concentrated and significant cultural and natural areas in the City such as Grant Park and Northerly Island which present a perfect, natural habitat and resting place for nature and people.”
Thomas Kerwin, president of American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chicago, and partner at Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP, stated, “High rise density must be supported by a solid infrastructure which Chicago does enjoy.” Kerwin added, “Density is a ‘positive’ if the environment can support it with access to transit, open spaces such as Grant Park, mixed use properties, an ‘amenable’ street and sidewalk network and amenities such as rivers and lakes.” He explained that the move back to urban areas is occurring worldwide. However, in many cities he has visited, including some in Asia, the cities’ infrastructures cannot support the density.
Jim Peters, Director of Preser-vation Planning, Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, stated that his organization has testified opposing the height of the Jewelers Row project. “This structure will be more than 816 feet tall - taller than any building on Michigan Avenue and certainly taller than any building along Jewelers Row. Buildings must be designed to respect the scale that exists within the environment.” He added that there were no shadow studies done for Wabash Ave., Michigan Ave. or Grant Park. Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois is a statewide, not-for-profit advocacy group with no government affiliation.

Legacy at Millennium Park—21–39 S. Wabash Ave./52-64 E. Monroe St.
A glass and aluminum curtain wall will rise 71 stories while preserving the façade of the Jewelers Row buildings currently occupying 21 S. to 39 S. on Wabash Ave. This condominium tower in development by Mesa Development LLC will have more than 300 residential units, about 460 garage spaces and 8,000–10,000 sq. ft. of retail space. The project’s architectural firm is Solomon Cordwell Buenz of Chicago.
Richard Hanson of Mesa Development LLC said that the Chicago Planning Commission granted approval on May 19; in early May the Chicago Landmarks Committee voted in favor the development. The project also has the support of Alderman Burton Natarus. “Groundbreaking is likely to occur next year,” said Hanson. “We are about half way in obtaining approvals. We still need the approvals from Zoning and the City Council.” Hanson also explained that the current properties on Wabash Ave. are under option to buy. The project’s footprint, he said, is about 40,000 sq. ft.
“We believe—as do many others—that modern buildings constructed next to/near historic ones make the historic buildings even more beautiful and recognizable. We also think that it is a good compromise that we get high rises which take advantage of the views of Grant Park and the Lake and energize the area’s culture, nature, and restaurants while financing the preservation of some of the historic buildings on Wabash and Michigan Ave.,” said O’Neill.

830 S. Michigan Ave.
A new condominium tower is planned for 830 S. Michigan Ave. restoring the shuttered building that previously was occupied by the YWCA.
Renaissant Development Group LLC is planning to restore the YWCA building and build a tower behind it on Wabash Ave. that will meet the landmark guidelines for south Michigan Ave.
Said Stephen Ward, vice president and director of real estate relations of the Greater South Loop Association, “We are very pleased about the restoration of the YWCA building and we look forward to reviewing the new design.” He added that, “According to the current plans there will be residences on Wabash Ave. and Michigan Ave. and parking will not be exposed on either street.”
“The plans are only available in a conceptual layout format, and it is difficult to determine exactly where the tower will be situated,” said Peters. “We are concerned the building may be positioned on top of the YWCA structure. We would be pleased to see the tower located behind the YWCA building.”
“Residential high rises are essential to the cultural, environmental and retail fabric of downtown Chicago. High rise residents are great supporters of culture and retail. High rises also generate much-needed property tax revenue and create the beauty of active street life and bustling sidewalks and public transit,” added O’Neill.
Renaissant Development Group declined comment at this time, explaining that it is too early to discuss plans for the project at 830 S. Michigan Ave.

Last edited by BVictor1; June 7th, 2005 at 03:11 PM.
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