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'Sexy' South Loop Mega Development Unveiled to City Officials

By Ted Cox | September 18, 2015 10:31am | Updated on September 21, 2015 8:46am
 This rendering of a proposed River City development, displayed for the Plan Commission, prompted one architecture aficionado to call it
This rendering of a proposed River City development, displayed for the Plan Commission, prompted one architecture aficionado to call it "sexy!"
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

SOUTH LOOP — The Plan Commission got a first glimpse of a new proposed development at River City on Thursday, prompting one architecture aficionado to call it "sexy."

The Franklin Point development, which builds on the original River City plan from 35 years ago, includes three high-rises sandwiching 62 townhouses just south of River City and extending to Roosevelt Road. It includes what would be 942 housing units and a mandatory riverwalk along the South Branch of the river, as well as open space demanded by local residents.

In what was termed a "courtesy presentation" to the Plan Commission ahead of any formal application to move ahead, architect Todd Snapp of Perkins + Will explained that one of the high-rises seeks to create a wave effect with what appears to be varying flanges along the balconies. In that, it echoes Jeanne Gang's award-winning Aqua just south of the Chicago River east of Michigan Avenue.

 Ald. Danny Solis calls it
Ald. Danny Solis calls it "a great project for that neighborhood," but adds he'll be working on congestion concerns.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

"It looks spectacular," architecture aficionado Butler Adams said during the public-comment session that followed.

Another architecture fan in the gallery gushed, "Sexy!" when renderings were displayed for the Plan Commission.

Yet South Loop resident Joyce Black expressed concerns about traffic congestion in the area with the increased development.

"I would hope that the public process," she said, "is only beginning."

"In general, it's a great project for this neighborhood," Ald. Danny Solis (25th) said Friday. "The big concern is the concern almost everybody in that neighborhood has — congestion."

Solis' ward picked up the area in the most recent remap. He said that, as the original development plan goes back decades, "There's not much I can do to stop it," but that he'd be working on the congestion issue.

The original River City development was approved in 1980, with that original building at the north end of the designated area completed in 1986. The land at the south end of the project area remained vacant for decades until the CMK development firm bought the property earlier this year.

The Plan Commission took no action Thursday, and CMK and Snapp have announced no timetable for proceeding, although Solis added, "They would like to start as soon as they get a green light."

Adams warned that architecture-oriented Chicago River boat tours typically turn around at that stretch of the South Branch, and that similar developments have produced noise complaints at the other end of the tours near River North condominiums east of Michigan Avenue.

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