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After Neighbors Complain, Ald. Says He Won't OK West Loop Condos Just Yet

By Stephanie Lulay | August 10, 2016 9:11am
 After complaints from nearby neighbors, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said he can't yet sign off on a plan to build 22 high-end luxury condos on Washington Boulevard.
After complaints from nearby neighbors, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said he can't yet sign off on a plan to build 22 high-end luxury condos on Washington Boulevard.
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DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay; Taris Real Estate

WEST LOOP — After complaints from nearby neighbors, a West Loop alderman said he won't yet sign off on a plan to build 22 high-end luxury condos on Washington Boulevard in the neighborhood. 

River North-based Taris Real Estate plans to build 900 West, a 10-story, 132-foot building at 900 W. Washington Blvd.

The site, a block from Parlor Pizza Bar and two blocks from the proposed McDonald's headquarters, currently houses a one-story office building. 

With 20 condos and two penthouse suites, the condo plan calls for a mix of two- and four- bedroom units with 2½ to 4½ bathrooms. Under the plan, 24 parking spaces would also be developed on the ground floor and the units would feature big living rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and terraces.

Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said that he expected a short community meeting Tuesday night because the condo development — the type of residential unit preferred by many West Loop neighbors — would be less dense, less tall and feature more parking than plans other developers are pitching in the neighborhood right now, skirting many of the most frequent complaints from current residents about new development proposals. 

Instead, Burnett was met with push-back from a dozen residents living at Peoria Street Lofts, a 28-unit, century-old converted loft building at 110 N. Peoria St. located just north of the 900 West site. 

Koushik Subramanian, president of the building's condo board, said neighbors have endured two major construction projects — including the neighboring Circa 922 at at 922 W. Washington Blvd. — in the last six years. The Circa 922 project caused damaged to some units, and neighbors are concerned another construction project could cause structural damage to the historic building, he said. 

"I think this building could be more responsible to the buildings around it," Subramanian said. "The density, specifically for the lot size, is way too high and I think is going to create a lot of issues for our building." 

Submaranian said he will have "every inch" of the Peoria Street Lofts building photographed before construction starts on 900 West. 

Zoning attorney Katriina McGuire said the development will meet all city guidelines related to the neighboring historic property, which would include a 30-foot setback. The developer is also committed to working with a reputable contractor, she said.  

Resident Bryan Ramey, who has lived in Peoria Street Lofts for nine years, said that the rapidly developing West Loop is losing its charm. Circa 922's fourth floor dog run currently overlooks his condo, he said, and more development will further infringe on existing neighbors' privacy. 

"The people that made the neighborhood into what it is today are sitting here right now...[we] made West Loop such a desirable neighborhood and the city allows what was once a peaceful place to live to turn into the current congested mess that it is today," Ramey said. "And now you want to allow another condo building to go up that takes away from [that] charm." 

In the end, Burnett called on the developer to meet with the 110 N. Peoria neighbors to come to a compromise. The developer agreed. 

"This is an option right now to negotiate, to get the developer to do what you want them to do," Burnett said. 

The alderman also noted that the developer could legally build 30 apartments on site now without a zoning change or input from neighbors. 

"[The developer] has property rights," Burnett said. "[Going back] this was not a residential area, this was an industrial area...Folks move to the area, and they don't want want anything else built."

The West Central Association formally supported the 900 West plan, in part because it included in-demand "family-sized" condo units, according to Armando Chacon, the group's president. The West Loop Community Organization and Neighbors of West Loop had minimal concerns, Burnett said. 

A rendering of 900 West, a proposed 10-story building at 900 W. Washington Blvd. in the West Loop. [Taris Real Estate]

'Very high-end luxury' units

The "very high-end luxury" units at 900 W. Washington Blvd. would be priced at more than $700-1,000 per square foot, according to developer Patrick Buck, managing director of Taris Real Estate, but prices have not been finalized. At $800 per square foot, the 1,600-square-foot two-bedroom units would cost more than $1.28 million, and 3,300-square-foot four-bedroom units would cost more than $2.64 million. 

The developer is seeking a zoning change and has applied for added density through the city's new Neighborhood Opportunity Fund program

Taris Real Estate owns the site and Chicago-based Northworks Architects is working on the project, Buck confirmed. 

If all goes well, construction could begin this December and the project could be completed in December 2017. The development was first announced in summer 2015. 

The units at 900 West would include floor-to-ceiling windows and other luxury amenities. [Taris Real Estate]

The 900 W. Washington Blvd. site currently houses a one-story office building. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]

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