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New River North Tower Would Connect To City Landmark

 Here's a first look at a 31-story hotel and office tower proposed behind the landmarked Reid Murdoch Center on the Chicago River. 
Proposed tower for 330 N. Clark St.
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RIVER NORTH — A developer unveiled plans Monday for the 31-story hotel and office tower he wants to build near the Chicago River, a project that aims to complement and contrast with the century-old landmark it would connect to. 

The proposed tower at 330 N. Clark St. would rise behind the Reid Murdoch Center, a vintage red brick building with a familiar clock tower on the Chicago River, while adding to it. The glass-and-metal tower would include six floors of office space and 500 hotel rooms separated by an eighth-floor "sky lobby" that would allow guests to step out onto the roof of the new hotel's historic neighbor. 

While striving to complement the Reid Murdoch building, a city landmark built for a wholesale grocer in 1914, the "element of contrast is critical" in the new tower's design, architect Eddie Abeyta of HKS Architects said. 

"So there's a strong transition between the new and the old," he said. 

The new tower would replace a two-story building and parking lot just northeast of the Reid Murdoch Center. The Reid Murdoch building's riverfront facade would remain, but some of its north and east walls would be blown out and expanded within the new tower to add 85,000 more square feet of office space.

The proposal also calls for street-level retail along Clark Street, a spa and gym, and two floors of meeting rooms before reaching the hotel rooms topped with a 31st-floor rooftop terrace. The developer is a venture of River North landlord Albert Friedman, who owns the Reid Murdoch Center. 

The presentation was hosted by the River North Residents Association and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd). Some neighbors were concerned about the project adding another hotel to the record number of Downtown hotels under construction, but Reilly said that lenders, not he, control what gets built. 

"I certainly don’t micro-manage the city’s economy to the degree that I decide how many hotels there are in a neighborhood," Reilly said. "Financing usually drives what makes a project viable or not."

The new tower requires approvals from the Chicago Plan Commission and City Council, as well as the city's landmarks commission because of its impact on a historic building. Reilly, who said he was surprised by the developer's plans for an amenity deck on the roof of the Reid Murdoch Center, expects the proposal will change before it reaches any city panel. Construction would last two years or more upon receiving public approval. 

Influenced by both the Chicago and Prairie schools of architecture, the Reid Murdoch building is "one of the city's finest examples of industrial design and a rare reminder of the type of buildings that once lined the Chicago River," according to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. The building also served as a makeshift morgue in the aftermath of the Eastland Disaster, fueling urban legends that it is haunted.

Check the slideshow above or scroll down below for more looks at the proposed development:

[Renderings by HKS Architects; photos by DNAinfo/David Matthews]

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