WEST LOOP — A 17-story residential high-rise at Madison and Green streets will be the tallest west of Halsted in the West Loop, and residents said there is little they can do to stop it.
More than 200 residents protested the tower at a meeting Tuesday night with Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) and developer Seymour “Sy” Taxman. They wanted assurances that the building would be only 12 stories.
But since development on the property already had been approved, Burnett repeatedly countered that the building’s height, 170 feet, was a nonissue. In fact, zoning would allow a building height of up to 250 feet on the property.
“Right now, today, they could build 250 feet. I don’t know if you all understand that,” Burnett said.
The property at Madison and Green streets — part of the same "Gateway to the West Loop" development that produced a popular Mariano’s at 40 S. Halsted St. — originally was zoned as a 250-foot high hotel, with the option for some residential units, back in 2010.
But Taxman was unable to find an interested developer for the hotel, so he and architect Joe Antunovitch repackaged the building as a residential tower. In response to community concerns, they scaled back to a 200-foot high, 20-story building, and later a 175-foot building.
At the meeting they agreed to knock off 5 more feet. The new plan calls for 167 units, 95 parking spaces and one level of first-floor retail spaces.
As many residents stood to read statements protesting the building’s lowered height, owner Taxman pointed out that community approval for the project was not necessary.
“You guys don’t have to like me. But I came to this community when there was really nothing here,” he said. “I promise you that this building is the minimum we can possibly deliver economically.”
About 100 people were left at the end of the two-hour meeting, with Burnett pushing for those present at the meeting to either approve the 170-foot tower or risk Taxman pushing for more.
An informal vote was taken, and it appeared that less than half the remaining people in the audience raised their hands in support, but many others left the meeting. No official count was taken.
Martha Goldstein, executive director of the West Loop Community Organization, said her group was not supportive of Taxman's original proposal, but she said she'd need to bring Tuesday's scaled-down version back to her ogranization for a vote.
Attorney and West Loop resident Julie Lawton told Taxman toward the end of the evening she had no problem with the height of his building, but speculated that many at the meeting wanted assurances from Burnett that the West Loop neighborhood would not see more buildings at a similar height.
“If that were nailed down, I think a lot of the opposition in this room would dissolve,” she said.
The alderman stressed that he couldn’t commit to that, and said it was ultimately something his constituents needed to decide.
“I’d have to see the lines you are talking about,” he told the crowd. “And I don’t know if I can do that, 'cause I don’t ever want to lie to you.”