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New West Loop Library Will Be 'Great For Kids Of All Ages'

By Stephanie Lulay | April 28, 2017 2:28pm | Updated on May 1, 2017 8:45am
 Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) speaks at an event officially announcing plans for the West Loop public library branch Friday.
Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) speaks at an event officially announcing plans for the West Loop public library branch Friday.
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DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay

WEST LOOP — A prominent West Loop developer announced plans to donate a building to house the West Loop's new public library Friday. 

Under the proposed public-private deal, Sterling Bay aims to donate a former Harpo Studios building at 118 N. Aberdeen St. to the city, placing the West Loop's new library across from the new McDonald's corporate headquarters. The official announcement comes after Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) confirmed the proposed library deal to DNAinfo earlier this week. 

RELATED: West Loop Library Planned Next To McDonald's Headquarters, Alderman Says

If approved, Sterling Bay will work with Chicago Public Library officials to design and rehab the two-story, 16,500-square-foot building for a library use, and will donate the building to the city when it's done, Burnett said. The city has agreed to fund the operation of the public library once it is built, he said. 

The proposed library project has yet to be approved by the Chicago Plan Commission and City Council, according to David Reifman, the city's Department of Planning and Development commissioner. 

Library Commissioner Brian Bannon said the project will provide resources for every member of the rapidly growing residential community in the West Loop. The new library facility would include a early childhood active learning space, and programs and spaces for area children, teens and family. 

The library will also offer free one-one-one homework assistance, and teens will have access to technology, resources, and classes that inspire exploration, creativity and learning through the YOUmedia program, Bannon said. Traditional library programs, including book clubs, job training and educational programming, are also expected to be offered. 

“We look forward to our innovative programs reaching Chicagoans in one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in the country," Bannon said. 

Burnett said neighbors have repeatedly identified a library as an important amenity for West Loop families.

Matt Letourneau, a member of the Skinner West Local School Council, said the proposed library would be located in the heart of the West Loop near a number of schools.

"This is great for kids of all ages," Letourneau said. "We're really pleased about the location, in particular."

In a statement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the project would benefit communities across Chicago. 

“Through partnerships with local businesses we can create much-needed amenities for neighborhood residents while saving taxpayer dollars," he said. 

If approved, the new West Loop public library would be the only one in the neighborhood. The public libraries closest to the West Loop are the Roosevelt branch, 1101 W. Taylor St. in Little Italy, and the Manning branch, 6 S. Hoyne Ave. a few blocks west of the United Center on the Near West Side, and the West Town branch, 1625 W. Chicago Ave. in West Town. 

Sterling Bay officials first announced it would help build a West Loop library when the developer revealed plans for the McDonald's corporate headquarters in June. 

At one point, the developer planned to build the library at the old Coyne College campus, another Sterling Bay-owned site, in Fulton Market. But the developer later abandoned that plan, and considered two or three other sites in the neighborhood, including locating the library inside the new McDonald's corporate headquarters building, before settling on the Aberdeen site, Burnett said. 

Sterling Bay is developing several high-profile projects in the neighborhood, including the McDonald's headquarters on Randolph Street, the 12-story McDonald's "Vendor Village" at Lake and Carpenter streets and Fulton West, a nine-story office and parking development in Fulton Market. The developer is also pitching plans for a 19-story hotel at 113 N. May St. near the McDonald's headquarters. 

Sterling Bay is also responsible for developing Google Chicago's headquarters and Ace Hotel in Fulton Market. 

Sterling Bay will work with Chicago Public Library officials to design and build the new library at 118 N. Aberdeen St. in the West Loop. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]