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Old Posted Jun 29, 2006, 1:51 PM
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Loopy Loopy is offline
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Well it looks like South Loop Neighbors has completed their transition into a full blown NIMBY organization. Greater South Loop Association supports it. Grant Park Advisory Council supports it. It seems that they want to make the whole of the South Loop as quaint and charming as Printers Row.

From: Chicago Journal June 29, 2006

Tower tension

Will ‘tall and slender’ high-rise at 830 S. Michigan frame Grant Park, or overwhelm Boul Mich?

By BILL MAYEROFF, Contributing Writer

Plans for an 80-story high-rise condominium building at 830 S. Michigan Ave., described by its backers as "tall and slender," will be unveiled Thursday night at a community meeting at Jones College Prep. Some South Loop residents, though, worry that the building will overwhelm its Boul Mich neighbors in the Michigan Avenue Landmark District.

Bob O’Neill, president of the Grant Park Advisory Council, supports the project, and said this week that the design will frame Grant Park.

"When you’re in the park, the beautiful skyline ends at Congress," O’Neill said. "It also balances out the Aon Center [at 200 E. Randolph]."

Though the building would be nearly twice the size of others in the area, O’Neill believes it will promote development in the area.

"I think it’s really in the public’s best interest," he said. "This particular building will set a precedent for development in the south Grant Park area." O’Neill thinks the proposed high-rise will lead to more buildings of that size in the area.

The building, according to Warren Barr of the Renaissant Development Group, will be 80 stories with nearly 35,000 square feet of retail space—including a 9,000-square-foot restaurant, a grocery store, and a spa—as well as 376 residential units.

"We’re building 376 units, which is exactly what the zoning allows," said Barr. Barr said the tall, thin design will block less light than shorter and wider designs.

"The [Chicago Department of Planning and Development] pushed us to go with a taller, slender building," Barr said.

But not everyone is as excited about a new skyscraper in the South Loop as O’Neill and Barr. Dennis McClendon, a member of South Loop Neighbors, believes the building will not fit in with its surroundings.

"I don’t think it’s going to fit in at all," McClendon said. McClendon says the building is taller than what is currently allowed in that spot by the Michigan Avenue Landmark District, which would limit the building to 425 feet.

"This proposal is almost double the height that is to be allowable in that spot," McClendon said. A spokesperson for the Commission on Chicago Landmarks could not be reached for comment.

Paulette Boyd, president of South Loop Neighbors, is also skeptical about how the building will work in that spot.

"It certainly would provide a huge shadow," she said. "We’re looking at something that’s double anything in that area south of Congress." Both she and McClendon are afraid a building of that size will cast shadows across Grant Park.

Boyd has not seen any drawings of the proposed high-rise, but she would prefer to see a development that stays within the limits imposed by the Michigan Avenue Landmark District.

"I just kind of have to wait and see what [the developers’] plans are," Boyd said. "And nothing this tall has ever been proposed."

But O’Neill isn’t worried about shadows. Like Barr, he believes the proposed design will actually allow in more light than a shorter, wider building.

"By being thinner and taller, it lets more light in," O’Neill said. "I think this really is a win-win-win situation."

In addition to allowing more light, O’Neill said the proposed high-rise will take up a smaller plot of land than a shorter, wider building, which allows more green space around it.

"The lot that is there right now is hideous," O’Neill said.

Jeff Key, president of the Greater South Loop Association, also supports the project, and agrees with O’Neill’s assertion that the building will frame the park.

"There’s something lopsided about Grant Park," Key said. "Grant Park was originally planned to be surrounded by tall buildings."

Key added that he thinks that some residents react too quickly when they hear a tall building is being proposed.

"I think people have this knee-jerk reaction to a tall building if it’s in the South Loop," he said. Key added that a tall and thin building will be more attractive and allow more light than something short and wide.

The project lies in the 2nd Ward; Alderman Madeline Haithcock did not return calls for comment.

Area residents will get to see drawings of the proposed high-rise tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Jones College Prep, 606 S. State St.

Last edited by Loopy; Jun 29, 2006 at 2:08 PM.