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Streeterville tower plan praised by residents, alderman

The project would be built where the lake meets the river, once envisioned as home of the Chicago Spire.

A rendering of the residential towers that would arise from 400 N. Lake Shore Drive.
A rendering of the residential towers that would arise from 400 N. Lake Shore Drive.
Related Midwest

The development firm Related Midwest introduced revised plans Tuesday night for a two-tower development in Streeterville near the lake that received generally positive comments from neighbors.

The complex at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive would arise from a 2.2-acre site that years ago a previous developer eyed for a 2,000-foot tall building dubbed the Chicago Spire. By comparison, the new plans are more modest, but the design by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill still aims to create a landmark on the Chicago skyline where Lake Michigan meets the Chicago River. With terra cotta accents, it’s supposed to reference classic Chicago architecture.

At a meeting called by the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), residents described the buildings as “spectacular” and “very exciting,” although some had reservations about traffic circulation. The planned heights are 875 feet and 765 feet.

Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest, emphasized that the new design eliminates a hotel use that he proposed in 2018. The tower would have 1,100 residents and no commercial space except perhaps for a small coffee shop.

Reilly said the changes improve the overall design and ensure that traffic will not choke East North Water Street, a key access point. He said, however, he reserves judgment on a zoning change for the project, pending further comments from neighbors.

“I would say it’s accurate that the developers have made a lot of progress on the design,” he said, comparing it to plans aired in 2018. He said landscaping has been improved, particularly because a podium that threatened blank walls at pedestrian level has been eliminated.

Reilly’s support is critical if the project is to get city zoning approval.

Bailey said the project, which he estimated could be a $400 million investment, will have 300 parking spaces on two underground levels. He said additional parking is not needed because developers in the area have seen a reduced demand for cars in residential high-rises.

He said that to reduce the traffic load on East North Water Street, delivery vehicles will have to access the buildings from Lake Shore Drive.

Bailey also emphasized Related’s commitment to providing $10 million for the new DuSable Park, which will border the buildings on the east. For the time being, the DuSable site would be used for construction staging.

“We are completely committed to building this park. It’s a critical piece to finishing Streeterville and making it great,’ he said.

Bailey said he hopes to start construction on the first phase, the taller north tower, in late 2020, with completion about three years later. He said the first tower would be rental units, and the future marketplace will dictate if the second tower is apartments or condos.

The developers are not required to set aside units as “affordable” under city ordinance. Reilly said that’s because the original planned development predates the affordable housing ordinance.