Controversy Surrounds Chicago West Loop Apartment Towers
Chicago, United States 7 August 2019
Despite pushback from neighbors, a West Loop alderman said he is likely to sign off on a trio of new buildings that would bring nearly 500 new apartments and offices to the booming Fulton Market area.
Chicago-based LG Development is planning to build two apartment towers—scaling 20 and 22 stories tall—at 168 North May Street and 171 North Racine, as well as an 11-story office building at 1150 West Lake Street. The trio of buildings will be called the Amylu Collection—a nod to Amylu Kurzawski, the third-generation sausage maker and owner of ATK Foods, currently occupying the site just south of the Lake Street “L” tracks.
Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. (27th Ward), who fielded complaints from neighbors who think the buildings are too tall for the area, said he was “95 percent in support” of the project.
“I still have to hear what [the Department of] Planning says and what the neighborhood groups say, but I like it,” Burnett said after a community meeting July 30 in the Fulton Market neighborhood.
Burnett especially liked the nearly 100 affordable housing units that would be built on site as part of the developer’s plan. “To me, having affordable units on-site is giving back to the community,” Burnett said.
Under current plans, the developer is aiming to build an 11-story, 185-foot-tall (56-meter-tall) office building at 1150 West Lake Street that would include ground-floor retail and 75 underground parking spots, according to zoning attorney Michael Ezgur.
About 25 percent of the apartments would be studios, 50 percent would be one-bedroom, and 25 percent would be two-bedroom units, according to architect George Sorich of NORR Architects. The developer would build 97 affordable apartments on site, Ezgur said—20 percent of the total units planned.
Ground-floor retail, a fifth-floor amenity deck with two swimming pools, and 220 parking spaces are also planned, Ezgur said.
“After the massive project was unveiled, residents called the apartment towers ‘too tall.'”
To make way for the project, LG Development is under contract to buy the ATK Foods site at 1143 West Lake Street for more than $30 million.
After the massive project was unveiled, residents called the apartment towers “too tall.”
“Why 22 stories? Why 20 stories? Why are we turning this into a River North?” one resident asked. “This is pretty much out of character with the neighborhood at this point…These are skyscrapers,” she said.
Anna Claire, a West Loop resident, said the tall buildings would “amplify” congestion in the area. “Twenty stories is really big for this area…It’s a tall building but it’s also the density that it brings to this area.”
Claire urged Burnett and the city’s Department of Planning and Development to hold a meeting to discuss how the city plans to address broader infrastructure, safety, and traffic concerns as many of the new buildings are set to come to the neighborhood.
Matt Letourneau, president of Neighbors of West Loop, said he was underwhelmed by the project’s design and had concerns about the proposed height and lack of green space or public amenities for the community.
Last year, Neighbors of West Loop pitched a plan aimed at capping the height of new buildings in an effort to preserve the character and quality of life of the neighborhood. Letourneau said the building was too tall and cited the group’s proposal to cap the height of buildings to 150 feet (46 meters).
While likely to sign off on the project, Burnett will ask the developers to provide some public green space, like a dog park, in an effort to address community concerns.
The developer is seeking a zoning change to a DX-5 Planned Development zoning designation and would pay $5.7 million into the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, a program that allows developers to build bigger and taller projects in an expanded downtown area to support commercial projects in under-invested neighborhoods.
For more on this story, go to Block Club Chicago.