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Old April 30th, 2007, 08:37 PM   #181
Loopy
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Old May 5th, 2007, 07:31 PM   #182
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Redesign of ugly townhomes?

http://www.nearwestgazette.com/Archi...story0507f.htm

PDNA wants X/O investigation: planning department refuses

By Sarah Severson


The Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance (PDNA) has filed a procedural challenge with the City’s Department of Planning and Development asking for clarification on aspects of the approved X/O luxury highrise project at 1700 S. Prairie Ave, which would erect one tower of 45 stories and another 33 stories high. The City, however, found no reason for an investigation and nothing inappropriate in the project’s approval process.

“We’re concerned with the procedural aspect of the approval,” said Jeff Ayersman, PDNA treasurer. “We believe there was not full disclosure on the application and that the project does not fit with the City’s plan for the Near South Loop.”

Tina Feldstein, PDNA president, said the application did not provide full financial disclosure or mention that Keith Giles, a Frankel & Giles and Kargil Development principal, was an officer on the Near South Planning Board (NSPB), one of the organizations that approved the project. She also alleged neighborhood residents did not receive notice before public meetings.

“We feel it was not due diligence in the process of approving the project,” Feldstein explained. “They did not disclose that the developer had donated money to every organization that gave community support.”

Giles responded by noting the financial part of the application contained a misprint that has since been cleared up and insisting he has been open about his involvement with the NSPB and a one-time donation to the Greater South Loop Association (GSLA). He added that the developer held multiple meetings with individual neighbors and community groups about the project.

“The public and community review of this project took place over a period of over six months, which allowed comment and community input from many, many different sources," Giles wrote in a letter that was read aloud at the last GSLA meeting. "The result was a project that was approved without significant objection.”

Giles recently met with the PDNA to discuss its concerns.

“We opened up a formal dialogue with the hope and expectation to come up with some compromises on development ideas,” Giles said. “We made it clear that we’re not ignoring them, and we’re concerned that they don’t like the project.”

Giles said the towers' design will not change, as more than half the units in the first tower already are sold, but he is willing to redesign the townhouses and streetscape.

“We’re including a 10,000 square foot park, replacing street lights, redoing sidewalks, and contributed $700,000 to the Glessner House,” Giles said. “We’re trying to reconcile with the group and are willing to do some more.”

Despite PDNA’s opposition, Giles is encouraged by the number of sales to date.

“The public at large has embraced the project, and it’s been very successful from a marketing and sales standpoint,” he said.

Giles disagreed with the PDNA’s challenge to the project’s applications, stating the developer always has focused on full disclosure.

“The group is looking for a way to overturn the decision from Planning and Development,” he said. “I’m disappointed that no one has focused on the world-renowned architecture and that this will be an environmentally responsible building. We’re doing more than anyone has done in the South Loop.”

The City Council approved the X/O Towers last fall. The project is in the construction documents stage, with final plans being created. Giles said the developers expect to have permits this summer and break ground next year.

The City’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) said that, although the PDNA objects to having two tall towers near the historic Prairie District, the property actually sits just north of the district and fits into the City’s plan for the South Loop for several reasons. For example, according to Constance Buscemi, DPD spokesperson, the X/O development will be down the block from other new—and taller—buildings, the corner will provide open space that is accessible and available to the community, the project will provide parking as required, and the development will be set back behind townhouses in accordance with the South Loop plan.

“Development means that you mix old with new—a mix of heights and density,” Buscemi said. “If you never developed anything, it would stay the same. You do not preserve a historic district by creating new buildings that mimic it but [by constructing ones] that are different so you don’t confuse historic buildings with recently erected buildings.”

Buscemi confirmed the developers completed the approval process in the correct manner by holding community meetings and going through the City Planning Commission and Zoning Committee, where the public can comment.

“It was an open, public process judged on its merits, and it was approved,” Buscemi said. “There was nothing inappropriate and no reason for investigation.”

Newly elected 2nd Ward alderman Bob Fioretti said he plans to review all the documents related the project, and he wants to work with Planning and Development, neighborhood organizations, and the developer to find resolutions among all parties.

“I will review what has already taken place and then form an opinion on the matter,” he said.
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Old May 5th, 2007, 09:45 PM   #183
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I would not fight a redesign of those terrible townhouses. Good news.
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Old May 5th, 2007, 10:52 PM   #184
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I don't care what they do with townhouses as long as they don't touch the two high-rise towers.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 05:30 AM   #185
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Old May 15th, 2007, 06:41 AM   #186
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^Oh yeah, that building there so fits in with the character of the historic Prairie ave district. What a loss that will be.....

Haha, cant wait till I see this monstrosity getting built when im taking the bus everyday; as its filling the sky and casting shadows on the townhomes below.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 11:56 AM   #187
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The building that's currently there doesn't fit in with the historic mansions on the adjacent block.
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Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will themselves not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die. - Daniel Burnham
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Old May 16th, 2007, 05:08 PM   #188
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robituss View Post
^Oh yeah, that building there so fits in with the character of the historic Prairie ave district. What a loss that will be.....

Haha, cant wait till I see this monstrosity getting built when im taking the bus everyday; as its filling the sky and casting shadows on the townhomes below.
eh, it's called progress... if chicago built only buildings that fit in the character of the neighborhood before, then we would have a very flat city of log cabin(ish) type buildings...
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Old May 16th, 2007, 05:57 PM   #189
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Old May 16th, 2007, 06:53 PM   #190
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Well, i was totally being sarcastic. i dont think the existing crappy building fits in at all, which is why its funny those groups are protesting X/O's radical design so much saying it also "doesn't fit in". As if the existing one does. Im looking forward to X/O taking its place anyway.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 07:29 PM   #191
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Have you noticed that they say nothing of that crap State of IL building that sits on Indiana and overlooks the Clarke House. I guarentee you when the State sell that building and a developer makes a proposal the NIMBY strokes will fight for keeping the State building vs a high rise.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 07:34 PM   #192
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I don't believe PDNA is asking to preserve the existing building. I think they want new buildings to comply with the adopted neighborhood plan and to respect the nearby landmark district.

The Prairie District is perhaps the most redeveloped part of Chicago. Early small dwellings gave way to Gilded Age mansions, then most of those gave way to auto showrooms and light industrial buildings. Now that it's being redeveloped yet again, the question arises: what sort of character should it have? The experts who have considered that question over the past few years felt it should be a townhouse district, and the city's official planning agency adopted a plan explicitly saying so.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 07:35 PM   #193
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopy View Post
You're brilliant! Redesign the townhomes as log cabins, or perhaps a log fortress.

It will go great with their new monument.
Personally, I think they should be building the Chicago Spire out of logs. Imagine, 100+ floors of log cabin bliss... We can build a fortress on top of it and shoot canons at NIMBYs, awesome...
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Old May 16th, 2007, 08:00 PM   #194
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That’s a funny take on the situation: (The experts who have considered that question over the past few years felt it should be a townhouse district, and the city's official planning agency adopted a plan explicitly saying so.)

Because I think that what the "City" is approving is vibrant mix of Town homes, Mid-rise and High-rises and Existing Lofts that ultimately honors the past and develops a future that makes best use decisions for limited sites along lakefront.

Additionally, I don't believe that a town home only development strategy for the Prairie District will provide the critical mass needed to draw retail and essential service to the area. Density will. I completely agree that there is a historic character to the neighborhood that should be protected. But as in Printers Row the reach of their steadfast obstructionist approach has hamstringed their ability to sustain and draw retail.

Last edited by Chicagotom; May 17th, 2007 at 04:46 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old May 16th, 2007, 08:04 PM   #195
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Downtown View Post
I don't believe PDNA is asking to preserve the existing building. I think they want new buildings to comply with the adopted neighborhood plan and to respect the nearby landmark district.

The Prairie District is perhaps the most redeveloped part of Chicago. Early small dwellings gave way to Gilded Age mansions, then most of those gave way to auto showrooms and light industrial buildings. Now that it's being redeveloped yet again, the question arises: what sort of character should it have? The experts who have considered that question over the past few years felt it should be a townhouse district, and the city's official planning agency adopted a plan explicitly saying so.
Please inform us, "Mr. Downtown", what experts and where does it state that this should be a "townhouse district"?

Meanwhile, all of you should plan on attending this meeting.....I can guarantee all of you that the NIMBYS will be well represented:
Meeting
Saturday, May 19th
9:15 - 11:30 a.m.
Weather Mark Tavern,
1503 S. Michigan Ave.


PRELIMINARY AGENDA:
9:15-9:30-Meet and Greet
-New Business Spotlight - Weather Mark Tavern
-Bash on Wabash Update
-Meet Aldermen-elect Dowell and Fioretti
-Hear about the new McCormick Place Expansion
-New Development Panel Discussion - Topics will include planned developments vs. build by right, zoning, near south community plan and aldermanic powers. Presenters will include Benet Haller, Director of Urban Planning from the City of Chicago's Department of Planning, and other experts in the fields of zoning, urban planning and government.
-Rokas International will introduce their proposed 37 story development on 20th and Prairie.
Refreshments will be served.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 10:13 PM   #196
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Quote:
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what experts and where does it state that this should be a "townhouse district"?
Well, there's a full page of acknowledgements in the Near South Community Plan, but primarily the consultants from Trkla, Pettigrew, Allen & Payne.

The phrase "townhouse district" is my sloppy shorthand. What the Plan specifies is:
  • residential uses preferred
  • 10 foot-setback,
  • building materials and styles "compatible with the historic character of Prairie Avenue," and a
  • height limit of 60 feet along Prairie, Cullerton, and 18th.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 10:37 PM   #197
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sloppy indeed
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Old May 17th, 2007, 06:47 AM   #198
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Downtown View Post
Well, there's a full page of acknowledgements in the Near South Community Plan, but primarily the consultants from Trkla, Pettigrew, Allen & Payne.

The phrase "townhouse district" is my sloppy shorthand. What the Plan specifies is:
  • residential uses preferred
  • 10 foot-setback,
  • building materials and styles "compatible with the historic character of Prairie Avenue," and a
  • height limit of 60 feet along Prairie, Cullerton, and 18th.
^ Ugh... Not this again. Why on earth must we insist on forcing developers to build things that look "historic" just because many newly built structures next to them look like a cheaper version of the actual "historic" structures that originally existed in the area? In other words, modernism is out? Do we really have to follow this silly formula? I for one don't care much for it.
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Old May 17th, 2007, 08:53 AM   #199
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Originally Posted by trvlr70 View Post
I would not fight a redesign of those terrible townhouses. Good news.
I agree! The only things wrong with this development are those UGLY townhouses! I say all glass and steel from the base to the sky!
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Old May 17th, 2007, 04:15 PM   #200
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Originally Posted by The Urban Politician View Post
Why on earth must we insist on forcing developers to build things that look "historic". . .? In other words, modernism is out?
No, modernism is fine, around the corner. I think the intent was to have new townhouses along Prairie to complement and, in some sense, reconstruct the "street of millionaires." The stuff on the northeast corner of 18th/Prairie turned out rather clumsy, but the new mansions in the 1800 block are very well done, and will be a much-admired streetscape in future years.

Chicago has no shortage of places to build tall, or to build modern.
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