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West Loop Neighbors Say 17-Story Apartment Tower Near Park 'Too Tall'

By Stephanie Lulay | April 13, 2017 8:52am | Updated on April 14, 2017 8:41am
 Developers revealed new renderings of the proposed 17-story 855 W. Adams project Wednesday night.
Developers revealed new renderings of the proposed 17-story 855 W. Adams project Wednesday night.
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FitzGerald Associates Architects

WEST LOOP — Developers pitched a new 17-story mixed-use building near Mary Bartelme Park in the West Loop Wednesday night, but neighbors aren't on board with the plan. 

In the vote by a show of hands Wednesday night, a majority of the 75 neighbors present signaled opposition to the 855 W. Adams project. Crayton Advisors and White Oak Realty Partners want to develop the building with 258 apartments at West Adams and South Peoria streets in the booming neighborhood. 

The 855 W. Adams project, which would top out at 185 feet, would include 13,500 square feet of retail space, 179 parking spaces and 258 bicycle parking spaces, and a rooftop pool, according to plans. An existing office building on Jackson would remain. 

The brick and glass-clad building would include a mix of studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units, said John Abell, Crayton Advisors managing partner. 

A two-story building on Adams, a parking lot on Peoria and an office building at 850 W. Jackson are now at the site. 

A rendering of the proposal. [FitzGerald Associates Architects]

Paul Gavin, who said he has lived in the West Loop since 2009, believes the tower would "completely destroy the look of the neighborhood." 

"We're not Lincoln Park. We're not Lakeview. We're not the South Loop. That's what's made the West Loop great — the buildings, seven, eight stories, brick facades, 1920s, 1930s. And now they come in with this," Gavin said, eliciting applause from the audience.

"Developers are getting way too greedy in this area and they are trying to take every penny out of the West Loop real estate boom, and it's our job as residents to say no to it,"  Gavin said.

Another neighbor who has lived at 203 S. Sangamon St. in the West Loop since 1999 said until recently developers didn't attempt to build taller than 10 to 12 stories in the neighborhood. 

"My real problem is with the height," he said. "In fact, I'm disappointed with the alderman, because he knows that's a major issue." 

Ald. Danny Solis (25th) or a representative from Solis' office were not present at the Wednesday night meeting. 

Last September, leaders of another group, Neighbors of West Loop, said the project was too tall and dense for the site. That neighborhood group urged the developer to consider nearby 850 W. Adams, a 90-foot-tall building that is "a more reasonable comparison for height," the committee wrote. 

But Patrick FitzGerald, the project's architect whose firm FitzGerald Associates Architects has been located in the West Loop since 2000, said height "is a relative issue" in the West Loop. He can remember when proposals for the eight-story 1000 W. Adams completed in 2001, and nine-story 111 S. Morgan completed in 2002, taller than the neighboring six-story warehouses, were regarded as "dramatic increases" in height at the time. 

The areas surrounding the Loop are growing as people want to live closer to work, FitzGerald said, creativing more demand for new housing. 

"I think we have to adjust to the fact that there were height limits that were lower in the past, but that's evolved. And that hasn't evolved strictly because of developers, that's also city policy," FitzGerald said. 

The 855 W. Adams site is about a block from a proposed 17-story, 586-apartment project at the blocklong H2O site at 845 W. Madison St. In February, 27th Ward Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. said he is likely to support the latest H2O plan, but the zoning change has yet to be formally approved by the City Council. 

In 2015, neighbors worked tirelessly to oppose the nearby 111 S. Peoria St. project that borders the park. Despite their efforts, the scaled-back residential building was approved by the Chicago Plan Commission in March 2016, and the building, now called Illume, is under construction. 

The 855 W. Adams project is one of many proposed for the area that has seen a huge influx of new residential buildings, hotels and office developments, including the new McDonald's headquarters on Randolph and the 12-story McDonald's "Vendor Village" at Lake and Carpenter streets. 

The developer is requesting a zoning change from DS-3 to a DX-7 Planned Development. If approved, the developer plans to contribute $1.076 million to the Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus fund, a city program that allows developers to build bigger and taller projects in an expanded Downtown area to support commercial projects in blighted neighborhoods.