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Skyscrapers at 167 W. Erie St., 720 N. LaSalle St. Approved by Aldermen

 Pictured here are the two towers: 167 W. Erie St. on the left, and 720 N. LaSalle St. on the right.
Pictured here are the two towers: 167 W. Erie St. on the left, and 720 N. LaSalle St. on the right.
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Courtesy BKL,

RIVER NORTH — The Chicago Plan Commission unanimously approved two development proposals for mixed-use towers, a vote Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) celebrated as a victory for the neighborhood in his community newsletter Friday.

"Approvals for these structures came after many months of negotiation with impacted stakeholders, in coordination and partnership with the River North Residents Association," Reilly's office wrote in announcing that construction would start soon at 720 N. LaSalle St. and 167 W. Erie St.

Lizzie Schiffman says the skyscrapers keep getting taller and taller in River North:

"We are pleased to report that the following two projects were able to deliver on each of those requests," the announcement continued, specifically praising the 8,000-square-foot pocket park that was at the center of negotiations at a recent community meeting.

"I always try to approach development proposals like this as though I lived across the street," Reilly said at the packed community presentation organized by the River North Residents Association in May. "In this particular case, I do live across the street."

At 167 W. Erie St., the plan calls for a building with a 39-story tower that abuts an existing office building at 640 N. LaSalle. The building would include a total of 450 residential units and add amenities atop the adjacent office building, including a pool and sun deck.

The plan calls for 121 new parking spaces split between the building's basement and towering 39th-floor roof, and includes 7,140 square feet of retail at the tower's base.

At 720 N. LaSalle St., developers secured approval to build a 382-foot tower with 298 units and 109 parking spaces. The tower would include 12,188 square feet of retail space and an 8,000-square-foot public park maintained by the building at the corner of Wells and Superior streets.

"We want it to be a very active park that will be open to the public," Tom Kerwin, principal at bKL Architecture said at the May meeting. "It will close at a certain time for security reasons, probably 11 p.m. There will be dog park as a subset of that park open to the public, open to the neighborhood."

The site is currently a dilapidated Howard Johnson's hotel.

"Obviously, it's not in the best of shape and doesn't create the best pedestrian experience," Kerwin said of the existing site.

Both projects will use primarily brick on the buildings' facade to fit more cohesively into the neighborhood, per a recommendation from the neighborhood group, association President Mike Riordan said.

Chicago-based Mac Management and Magellan Development Group are driving the project, working with Lowenberg Architects on 167 W. Erie St. and with bKL on the former Howard Johnson's site.

Citing a robust rental market downtown, the development team said the initial plan is to rent the 748 new units, though that could change based on demand. 

Pricing would be "toward the top of the class A market," with rentals at Erie Street costing $3.25 per square foot, and at $3.40 per square foot in the LaSalle Street building, said Sean Linnane, vice president at Magellan.

The LaSalle Street development is expected to cost between $90 million and $95 million, and the Erie Street plan will cost roughly $125 million, developers said Monday.

If the project starts in "very early 2015" as planned, both buildings will take about 1½ years to construct, Linnane said.

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