RIVER NORTH — After years of stagnation on a project to build a luxury residential tower at 220 W. Illinois St., first-time Chicago developers Gerding Edlen hope to start preleasing the building's 188 units this month and are aiming for completion by December.
Gerding Edlen jumped into the Jones Chicago project when it had been abandoned after years of development.
"It has kind of had a lengthy history," said Matt Edlen, director of East Coast and Midwest operations for the development group. "When we came into the project, it was about seven years old. It had been provisionally designed by one architecture firm, then it was completely redesigned in 2007 or 2008, then the economy tabled that for a while.
"We came into the project a couple of years ago, right when the project was really starting to see some light."
Lizzie Schiffman talks about why Jones Chicago is a long time coming for River North:
The West Coast-based development group wanted to put its mark on its first development in Chicago, but determined for practical reasons to limit their customizations to the tower's look.
"We made a conscious decision not to really change the exterior profile of the building," Edlen said. "That design had already been approved, had gone through the alderman and various neighborhood groups. We wanted to make sure we protected that."
So, the team focused all their efforts on making a sleek minimalist interior with luxury amenities and high-tech features and people-drawing "stations."
"So often [in Chicago] we see that the main focus of streetscape design is exclusivity," Edlen said. "Instead of the exclusive model, we wanted a space to be all about inclusivity. We wanted a place where people can gather: people from a public space, people who live in the building, people from the neighborhood."
Some of stations meant to draw residents out of their units include a fully enclosed dog run on the sixth floor with a dog-washing station, a chef's kitchen with bar seating on that same mid-floor terrace to create a shareable entertaining space, and two bike storage options: one for occasional riders and one for daily commuters that includes tools, an air pump and private storage lockers.
The lobby is designed to double as a coworking space, Edlen said.
Edlen, a Loyola University grad, says the company was eager to launch their first project in the Chicago market.
"I had a personal connection, and really wanted to go back, and I really wanted to invest in this city," he said. "It's a place that's just so vibrant. It really runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
Edlen's company centers its developments on a concept they call "20-minute living."
The idea is that "you can live, work, play, get out do all of the things you need to do in your day within a 20-minute sphere," he said. "Maybe that's 20 minutes by walk, by bike, by public transportation or even by car."
He said River North was the ideal neighborhood for Gerding Edlen to test that theory in Chicago.
"The reason I'm excited about River North, in addition to all the great qualities — food, and nightlife — it's got an incredibly vibrant culture," he said. "The art, the design community, those things get me really excited, and those are some of the things we looked at, with Jones, to really celebrate."
Pricing hasn't yet been determined for the planned mix of loft studios, one bedroom, one bedroom plus den, and two bedroom unit types ranging from 586 to 1,054 square feet.
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