THE LOOP — Representatives from the John Buck Company want to build a 515-foot tower at 200 N. Michigan Ave. with 432 residential units and nearly 25,000 square feet of retail, though Ald. Brendan Reilly said the project will likely have to be scaled back.
The developers presented their plans Thursday for the 45-floor building at a public meeting jointly sponsored by Reilly (42nd) and the Chicago Loop Alliance.
Reilly called the area surrounding the property "a pretty rough stretch" and a "wasteland" that could negatively influence tourists' perceptions of Chicago as they head to Michigan Avenue.
"A lot of redevelopment around here can only be good news," Reilly said.
The construction timeline presented Thursday called for demolition of the existing building in December, with construction beginning in March, and the building's opening in March 2016.
The project would include widening Lake Street by 2 feet to add a westbound "drop-off" lane, and concealing 156 parking spaces on the building's lower level and third, fourth and fifth floors.
Some residents attending the meeting at the Hard Rock Hotel raised concerns about the design of the building's proposed glass-walled facade, and questioned whether developers considered simply renovating the existing building
But Rafael Carreira, principal on the project for John Buck, said poor maintenance, asbestos and other issues would make it difficult to update the existing structure, which houses That's Our Bag, Brian's Juice Bar and a Starbucks.
Reilly praised the developer and architecture firm bKL for agreeing to include wider sidewalks as part of the plan and for "provid[ing] more space on the street to allow for traffic circulation."
"I think everyone can admit, this is a corridor of Michigan Avenue that could certainly use some work," Reilly said, adding that "any new development on this site is going to bring a lot more light, activity and security" to the area.
Reilly said that all plans presented Thursday were hypothetical. He also said the plan includes too many residential units for the property's size, according to city zoning rules.
"Once that's rectified, a revised plan will be shared with all of you," Reilly said.
Area workers called the building at Michigan Avenue and Lake Street "a complete eyesore."
"The area here is a disgrace to the city," said Kimble Moore, who lives at Cedar Street and Lakeshore Drive. "Anything you can do is an improvement."
Benefits of the project include bringing 600 residents to the community and creating hundreds of construction jobs, Carreira said.
"If we elevate the design status here, people will treat this stretch of Michigan Avenue better," Reilly said.