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Developers Propose Gold Coast Condos in Ruth Page Center Parking Lot

By Tatiana Walk-Morris | October 30, 2015 8:30am
 Ruth Page parking lot condo rendering compared to nearby structures
Ruth Page parking lot condo rendering compared to nearby structures
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DNAinfo Chicago / Tatiana Walk-Morris

GOLD COAST — One more high-end high-rise condominium building could come to Gold Coast next year.

During an Oct. 29 community meeting at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Lexington Homes developers presented plans to construct a 28-story condominium building in what is currently the center’s parking lot. If the project is approved, construction would start in the summer of 2016.

The proposed high-rise at 1028 N. Dearborn St. would have 50 units and 87 parking spots within the first few levels of the structure and a 24-hour doorman. After the economic downturn in 2008, the Ruth Page Center found itself in financial trouble, which spurred a discussion on possible revenue solutions, said Ruth Page’s executive and artistic director Venetia Stifler.

 Ruth Page Center for the Arts parking lot rendering
Ruth Page Center for the Arts parking lot rendering
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DNAinfo Chicago / Tatiana Walk-Morris

A portion of the ground level and all of the 2nd through 5th floors will be designated for parking, according to developers. The 6th floor will have some living space, a terrace and amenities including an exercise facility and a yoga room.

There will be three units on the 7th through 12th floors, and the floors above those will house two units per floor, topped with penthouse suites. The building’s concrete wall would block the view of Dearborn Plaza residents at 1030 N. Dearborn St. whose windows face the parking lot, said Ken Barnes, executive vice president of Lexington Homes during the meeting.

“We would not be doing this unless we absolutely had to,” Stifler said during the meeting. “We have not seen the recovery that everyone else has.”

The current private lot, which holds 20 parking spaces, is underutilized by the center’s visitors and employees, said Mara Georges, a partner in Daley & Georges law firm who moderated the meeting. If the proposed structure is approved, construction will take approximately 18 months, Barnes said during the meeting.

Residents raised concerns about traffic, the lack of parking in the neighborhood and increased development in the neighborhood, including the Cedar Hotel. The developers cited a preliminary traffic study that indicated the structure would not cause high traffic congestion, because the area is very close to public transportation and the building has parking for residents.

In a letter distributed to meeting attendees, Stifler and the Ruth Page Center’s director Victor Alexander said the center is researching alternative parking for those who used the parking lot in the past, which may include a possible loading zone in front of the building, a discounted valet service or discount arrangement with nearby parking facilities. The center currently serves more than 40,000 children and adults annually, the letter states.

“Speaking as someone from the neighborhood, I think I speak for everyone when I say no one wants to see Ruth Page leave,” Georges said.

The developers purchased the rights to develop above the Ruth Page Center and the Palette and Chisel Art Academy at 1012 N. Dearborn St., but they are not building above those sites, Georges said, adding that the purchase provided funding to help the center remain open.

Tony Hilvers, a Gold Coast resident who attended the meeting, said the development proposal seemed well-thought out. He said future development has to be done strategically to preserve the neighborhood.

“I think the development seems reasonable,” Hilvers said. “I think my concerns were addressed very well. The developers seem to be generally sensitive to the people who live here.”

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