Nov
03

Development Update: Logan Square Dual Tower Proposal Faces Stiff Resistance

November 03, 2014

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[rendering by Wheeler Kearns Architects]

Community meetings are serious business. Developer Rob Buono will tell you so. Developers have a lot invested in their projects and residents have a lot invested in their homes and communities. Neither a stranger to the public meeting process, Alderman Joe Moreno and Buono took questions regarding the proposal for a 15 story and an 11 story tower on Milwaukee Avenue and provided answers to residents for nearly two and a half hours. At last evening’s meeting, attendees called the proposal a “monster”, a “vomit plan”, a “sin” and in retort to Buono’s comment about the Mies-inspired design of the towers, one person even said that “it looks like Mies’ vomit”. Ouch. As predicted, the meeting in Logan Square brought out the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s just get straight to it.

First off, the good: the building design itself. Prior to the meeting, only one rendering of the towers had been publicly unveiled, however, of all of the developments currently proposed for Milwaukee Avenue, the Wheeler Kearns-designed neo-Miesian towers planned for the old Max Gerber showroom site are, in our opinion, the finest looking, with the nearby Brininstool + Lynch apartment block coming in second place. A lot of thought and planning clearly went into the design, and it showed during the presentation. As far as total numbers are concerned, the proposal as it stands calls for 253 apartment units (of which 25 will be affordable units), 6,600 square feet square feet of retail space and 71 parking spaces.

The buildings are targeting somewhere in between a LEED Silver and Gold certification, and overall, the development calls for a large spread of landscaped space. Between the two buildings, both will feature planted roofs and a large 20,500 square foot landscaped area over the covered surface parking spaces in between the buildings, which will also feature the development’s dog run. And since the plan calls for buildings that are much larger than anything else nearby, the development team purposely broke up the project into two towers and left a sizable gap in between in order to cut down on casting shadows on neighboring buildings and to prevent having one long, imposing monolithic tower block. In addition, the renderings reveal very wide sidewalks, at around 25 feet wide, according to the development team. The wide sidewalks are keeping in mind and making room for future commercial tenants who might want to make use of the space for patios or other arrangements. Also, as a transit-oriented development with a reduced number of parking spaces, neither tower sits atop a parking podium and in theory, the development is not likely to contribute greatly to vehicle congestion along Milwaukee Avenue and neighboring streets. In a crowd full of blue glass and steel proposals, the smokey black glass towers covered in green really do stand out.

According to many residents in attendance, the bad would be the buildings’ heights. Many of the comments and most of the concerns raised about the development were regarding the height of the towers. If this exact same proposal had been aiming to build in River North or the Gold Coast, it’s likely that it would have received little to no resistance whatsoever. However, it’s being proposed for Logan Square, an area known for its sprawling boulevards and historic homes, so many attendees expressed that they felt that the towers were simply out of place. Considering that the proposal originally started with a 14 story and 10 story building, and the actual proposal presented last evening called for a 15 story tower and 11 story tower, there may be some built-in wiggle room on the overall heights.

And finally, we get to the ugly part. Towards the end of the meeting, Sally Hamann, the president of the Greater Goethe Neighborhood Association stated that in a previous meeting with the developer, the organization was told that construction of the $70 million project could take up to 20 months. So things could get quite dusty and noisy on the corner lot for a long period of time. And finally, the remaining ugly thing is just the ugly truth. The ugly truth is that the gears are already in motion, and one cannot simply stop the development boom on Milwaukee Avenue from happening. As DNAinfo has highlighted, the neighborhood is quickly changing and as an attendee mentioned at the meeting, one can’t stop the market from moving in the direction that it is. Again, it is impossible to ignore the flurry of development activity planned for Milwaukee Avenue, as roughly 1,500 apartments have been proposed for the busy artery from the Grand, Halsted and Milwaukee intersection all the way up to the Kimball, Diversey and Milwaukee intersection just in the last couple of years. However, the fact that a large majority of these units are planned near and around transportation hubs is a beautiful thing, and there’s nothing ugly about that. And according to Hamann, 500 of these units are planned for the Milwaukee Avenue Corridor in Logan Square.

Once again, Alderman Moreno reiterated his support for the transit-oriented development ordinance and for actual transit-oriented developments, but also stated that no decision had been made and that another meeting regarding the proposal would be held. Milwaukee Avenue is due for a lot of changes, but will these towers be a part of it? We’ll have to wait and see, so stay tuned.

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[Buono and team]

·Logan Square Gearing Up for Battle Over Dual Tower Proposal [Curbed Chicago]

·Developer Proposes Dual Tower TOD for Milwaukee Avenue [Curbed Chicago]

·Mapping the Development Boom Along Milwaukee Avenue [Curbed Chicago]

 

 

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