The city’s planning agency Thursday endorsed a two-tower rental development for a lakefront site once eyed for the ill-fated Chicago Spire.
The Chicago Plan Commission unanimously supported the plan by development firm Related Midwest to build towers of 765 and 875 feet. The action clears the way for the project to get final consideration by the City Council, but timing of construction will depend on how the economy fares through the pandemic.
The 2.2-acre site is at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive. Years ago, a prior developer recruited celebrity architect Santiago Calatrava to design a building that, at 2,000 feet, would have been the city’s tallest. But the deal collapsed during the Great Recession, leaving behind a 76-foot-deep hole dug for the foundation.
The new design by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill doesn’t aim for any height records but still would reference classic Chicago architecture with setbacks and terra cotta accents. Situated near where Lake Michigan meets the Chicago River, it would become a landmark of the skyline.
The buildings would contain 1,100 apartments. With a design altered after discussions with community groups, the project had the support of downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd).
A hotel planned for the complex was eliminated, along with a podium that many thought deadened the project’s appearance at the pedestrian level. Parking for the development will be below grade. The developer promised changes to improve access to the future DuSable Park.
The design changes will reduce the traffic load on East North Water Street, a key access point, Reilly said.
The Plan Commission, which reviews large-scale zoning proposals, approved the project during a meeting conducted virtually because of COVID-19 concerns.
In other matters, the commission also approved:
—Zoning for a 144,000-square-foot warehouse to be occupied by Amazon that will be built within the Pullman Park industrial and retail development near 104th Street and Woodlawn Avenue.
—A proposal by developer Habitat for a 33-story, 343-unit apartment building at 344
N. Canal. It would replace a brick building occupied for years by Cassidy Tire.