WEST LOOP — A proposed 32-story residential tower along the Eisenhower Expressway drew praise and jeers at a community meeting Wednesday, with many concerned the building didn't fit the West Loop mold of smaller, less flashy buildings but others welcoming retail development.
Columbus-based developer Pizzuti isn't going after any city money for the project, a mostly one- and two-bedroom rental tower at 1061 W. Van Buren St. The tower would have 9,000 square feet of ground floor retail space in addition to a pool and green space on the roof.
Parking would be limited — averaging less than one space per resident — due to the building's proximity to public transportation, including the Jackson Street bus and UIC-Halsted Blue Line stop.
The proposal also calls for shutting down part of Aberdeen Street, which would have to be bought at market rate from the city, according to Michael Chivini, Pizzuti executive vice president.
About 100 people showed up to Wednesday evening's meeting at the West Loop's Merit School of Music.
Current zoning caps buildings on the lot at five stories. Many at Wednesday night's meeting seemed like they would be okay if it stayed that way.
"At what height does this building not become profitable for you?" resident Kalman Fortoloczki asked Chivini. "If this building is allowed to go forward at its current height, that's gonna be the first domino."
"Everyone in my building has said this is too tall and too ugly," said Hugh McLaughlin, board president of Sangamon Lofts, a condo complex just east of the proposed tower.
Chivini replied that his group was willing to compromise on the building's height.
"I don't think it's an all or nothing proposition. Are we hard and fast set at 32 floors? No, we're not," Chivini said.
Still others praised the modern glass tower, which would have a "Harry Potter" zig zag cutting down the middle. Many residents were also excited for the potential kickstart for retail the building could provide to that less trafficked part of Van Buren Street.
"There's really kind of a residential desert right there," said David Mooney, chairman of the West Loop Community Organization development committee. "You'd populate the area with all these people and that's just gonna really help the surrounding areas."
This project comes on the heels of a proposed historic district along Randolph Street and Fulton Market. That proposal also pushes large-scale business and residential zoning (with the potential for 15-story buildings) along the new Morgan Street "L" stop, from Halsted Street west to Racine Avenue.