RIVER NORTH — Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) has pulled his support from the proposal to build a 620-room, 45-story, glass-walled Hyatt hotel in the former Giordano's at 740 N. Rush St..
And as a result, he says the development "will not be moving forward."
"After ... reviewing the proposal and associated traffic analyses to determine whether changes could properly address these challenges, I have concluded that the propos[al] ... is simply far too ambitious for this location already surrounded by failing intersections (from a traffic engineering perspective) and high-density buildings," the Downtown alderman wrote in a community newsletter over the weekend.
Lizzie Schiffman explains why neighbors were so upset with the plans:
The initial plan, presented to the River North community at an April 7 meeting co-sponsored by the River North Residents Association, called for building around the existing four-story brick building currently at the corner of Rush and Superior streets and moving the pizza restaurant to the second floor, freeing the street level for three new storefronts.
The 444-foot glass-walled tower would have extended upward from within the brick footprint and feature a mix of 620 suite and extended-stay rooms.
Reilly said that "a tremendous amount" of resident feedback played a key role in his decision after "the resounding overall sentiment was serious concern regarding the overall density of the proposal and the major traffic impacts and loading challenges associated with it."
At the April 7 meeting, Albert Friedman of Friedman Properties made an appeal to community members arguing that the development was an opportunity to revitalize a part of the neighborhood that's "rather dark, rather unpleasant and not necessarily the street that I would choose to walk down."
The planned development is "not just about the hotel," he said. "We’re adding new retail all around on the ground floor … if you think about it, you go from Michigan Avenue in this direction, and you see the beautiful Sax store, but there's no entrance. It's not pedestrian friendly. Other than the Peninsula Hotel there's nothing on that street."
But residents pushed back, saying car traffic from existing hotels in the area already jam up the neighborhood.
Tenants of the nearby Fordham Building said that it regularly takes them 10 to 15 minutes to get their car out of the garage on weekends, and guest parking is often unavailable.
Reilly said he "did not reach this conclusion quickly," but "met with the development team on several occasions to explore potential changes or other development options to help make the proposal a better fit for this location."
"Unfortunately, at the end of that process, it became clear that this proposal simply could not proceed."
The developer retains the option to present new plans to Reilly, his constituents and the City Council at any time, subject to further input from the the public and Reilly's office.
"I have encouraged the property owners to carefully consider the limitations posed by the infrastructure around their site and existing traffic conditions, as they contemplate future development concepts," Reilly wrote.