WEST LOOP — As developers presented plans for 130 rental units at the Carmichael's site Tuesday night, many neighbors said they still don't see enough of what they want — green space.
Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group plans to develop a mix of two-bedroom and three-bedroom rental apartments at the site, company president Tom Meador said at the community meeting. Renderings call for two four-story brick buildings that would take up much of the land at 1050 and 1060 W. Monroe St.
Under current plans, a 1,050-square-foot two-bedroom unit would rent for about $3,000 per month, and a 1,300-square-foot three-bedroom unit would rent for about $3,300, Meador said.
Before Carmichael's Steakhouse closed, the private site had a large landscaped courtyard that was open to the public. The redevelopment would see about 7,900 square feet of green space planned at the site, Meador said.
Residents previously submitted a petition to Ald. Danny Solis (25th), arguing that their "beautifully maintained aesthetic on the block" should not be "obliterated to make way for yet another luxury apartment complex." Calling the courtyard a vital part of the neighborhood, residents repeated their request that more green space be maintained at the site Tuesday night.
After initially meeting with the community, developers made adjustments the the site plan. In addition to added green space, setbacks have been adjusted from two feet to 10 feet at the corners of the property.
The developer's changes to the plan are a step in the right direction, but the community's support ultimately hinges on the courtyard, said Armando Chacon, president of the West Central Association.
"It's an improvement, but it's not really enough," he said.
Solis was not present at the meeting organized by the West Loop Community Organization, but members of his 25th Ward staff were in attendance.
After the meeting, Meador said developers are willing to go back to the drawing board to develop another set of renderings to meet the community's needs, but will first consult with Solis.
In November, the City Council passed an ordinance — introduced by Solis to change the zoning of the block — effectively blocking the plan.
The action ensured that any development at the site would have to go through a community process before moving forward. Unless neighbors approve of the development in the future, Solis does not plan to sign off the project, according to his spokeswoman.
If the development is approved and building permits are ultimately issued, Meador estimates the buildings would be completed in 13 months.
Meador said the development would be "condominium quality" but the developer does not currently have plans to convert the rentals to condos.
The "terribly roach-infested" 68-year-old Carmichael's building, 1052 W. Monroe St., will be torn down in the next few weeks, Meador said. A fence will keep squatters off the site, he said.
Carmichael's Steakhouse, a mainstay of the West Loop dining scene, closed in March after 18 years in business.
At the meeting, Meador said the development team has been characterized as "an evil empire" pushing Carmichael's from the site.
"That's not true at all," he said. "The [Carmichael's] owner, for a lot of reasons, wanted to sell. By his own admission, the restaurant business was not making it. It was only profitable on the nights the Bulls and Blackhawks were in town."
Meador said the steakhouse was also facing competition from a steakhouse planned at the Google building and possibly a second one at the far end of the West Loop.
Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group is in part owned by Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. The developer operates several other properties in the West Loop.
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