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Jeanne Gang-Designed Apartments for Hyde Park Get OK from the City

By  Sam Cholke and Ted Cox | February 19, 2016 6:16am 

 Solstice on the Park got approval of the Chicago Plan Commission to move forward with plans for a hotel and apartments.
Solstice on the Park got approval of the Chicago Plan Commission to move forward with plans for a hotel and apartments.
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Courtesy of the Silliman Group

CITY HALL — A Jeanne Gang-designed apartment building planned for East Hyde Park started moving through city approvals on Thursday with some design changes.

The Chicago Plan Commission on Thursday approved the new plans for Solstice on the Park, a project first proposed in 2007 and stalled in the collapse of the real estate market, with changes that move the 26-story high-rise closer to the street and expand the size of the parking garage.

Some critics said the wait has given Gang a chance to improve her initial ideas.

South Side architecture fan Butler Adams predicted the design would be featured in books on architecture history and said the extended delay produced by the Great Recession "allowed for some positive improvements."

The design of the tower at 1634 E. 56th St., remains largely the same as Gang’s 2007 design, which includes a series of large downward-sloping windows facing Jackson Park and the Museum of Science and Industry. But the building will now be 33 feet closer to the street to make the parking garage behind the tower along Cornell Avenue 15 feet shorter.

The developer, Silliman Group, the development arm of MAC Properties, originally conceived the building as condos, but is now pursuing 250 apartments.

The plans submitted to the city show new amenities planned for the ground floor including a fitness room and two possible retail shops, along with a private drive along the front south face of the building that provides the entrance and exit to the parking garage.

The parking garage is expected to have 316 spots and will also serve the neighboring Windermere House, 5543 S. Cornell, which is also owned by the developer.

The developer had considered using a portion of the building for a hotel, but made no mention of it Thursday and appears to have backed off after plans for another hotel project recently started.

The developer has been working in the community for more than a year to line up support for the project.

“Everything has been fully and thoroughly vetted with the community,” said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), adding that it would produce 400 jobs.

MAC Properties invested $1 million in a new playground, parking lot and drop-off lane for Bret Harte Elementary, 1556 E. 56th St., to ease traffic around the school as the new building opens.

The developer has also committed to making another neighboring apartment building at 5528 S. Cornell Ave. affordable to secure the support of affordable-housing advocates.

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