Old Saint Patrick’s Church to Build Office Tower

Yesterday the good people over at the Fulton River District Association posted a note on our Facebook Page, letting people know that after years of talk and speculation, Old Saint Patrick’s Church is finally pulling the trigger on its office building plans.

Saint Pat’s has owned the surface parking lot on the corner of Adams and Des Plaines for decades, and its members have long talked about turning it into a source of revenue for the church.  It appears the time is now.

I’ve mangled the architect’s renderings to show what it will look like.  I didn’t have a north side rendering to work with, so I used the building’s south side for the north side.  But it at least shows the height and context.  See the bottom of this post for before and after pics.

Mock-up of Old Saint Patrick's Tower.

We’ll have a more detailed article about this soon, but for now here are the highlights:

  • Address: 625 West Adams Street
  • Floors: 23 stories, including mezzanine
  • Height: 336 feet, four inches, including mechanical penthouse
  • Architecture firm: Solomon Cordwell Buenz
  • Developers: The Alter Group and White Oak Realty Partners
  • Office space: 561,000 square feet
  • Parking spaces: 400
  • Green roof, LEED blah blah blah
  • 6-22: Offices
  • 2-5: Parking
  • Mezzanine: Church offices
  • 1: Lobby, Church offices, Retail



Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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  1. Jeez, this is the same site we at Fifield Companies optioned from Old St Pat’s to buy and build a like sized building 5 years ago! So what’s the inside story? My former employee/partners Rick Blum and Tom Saletta (White Oak Partners) went back to Old St Pat’s (of which Saletta is a parishioner) to option it again. But here’s the rub. the deal requires that the developers, including White Oak’s venture partner Alter Group, build a garage that the church can use in the evenings and weekends for free. Since the City sold its parking meters, the garage business has seen a significant drop in revenues as the higher meter rates leave more meters available for short term parkers and hence fewer parkers in the garages. Why is that important? Because new construction garages don’t make much money. In a new building like 625 Adams, the owners need higher rents from the offices to pay for the garage, putting them at a disadvantage to other office buildings. Martin Wolf’s design is certainly sleek and riveting. Too bad they have an economic disadvantage to other projects. Even our project nearbt at 601 W Monroe is reconsidering the parking option. Steve Fifield

    Post a Reply
    • Editor

      Steve, thank you for your candid insight.

      If I’m reading you correctly, you feel that OSP is hosing the developer by requiring the parking garage for free nights and weekends.

      I just counted, and there are currently 154 cars parked at 625 West Adams. There are another 110 parked at 601 West Monroe, 206 parked at 623 West Monroe, and 16 stuffed in the alley next to Heritage Green Park. Plus, every street parking space is occupied, as far as the eye can see. There appears to be massive demand for parking in this location, and I’d wager a lot of people would pick OSP’s immediate-access parking garage over waiting for the valets to un-Tetris their rides from the surface lots. I wonder if the developer thinks it can make up the difference through volume.

      Right now I can see 500 cars parked within one block of this location, and most mornings hundreds of people park in Greektown and walk into the Loop because of either a lack of garage parking options, or prices, or both. Maybe the developers think they’ll stuff the garage enough to make it worthwhile.

      My other though is exactly the opposite — That Old Saint Pat’s took concessions elsewhere because of pressure from the bad economy. OSP is primarily a commuter parish. I’d be surprised if 5% of its regulars lived within 5 miles of the place. High gas prices and other economic pressures on the parishioners could be lowering attendance and tithing, forcing the real estate issue. Again, that’s just wild speculation on my part, but something has apparently changed to drive these parties together.

      One thing I can tell you is that OSP desperately needs those 400 parking spaces on nights and weekends. Especially on Saturdays when it’s practically a wedding assembly line over there (OSP has so many weddings it doesn’t offer any services on Saturdays). And I’ve met several people who have been towed from evening events at Old Saint Pat’s because they parked in the wrong space. “Use the lot to the southeast of the church” doesn’t resonate with people from the suburbs (again, this is an outlander parish); they park wherever they feel like and then are surprised to find their cars gone four hours later.

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  2. There will be very strong neighborhood opposition to this project. The west loop should not be a source of cheap parking for loop office workers. The very large parking:office ratio in this building will effectively do this. A building with this amount of parking space has no business in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

    Post a Reply
    • I think the West Loop is a source for cheap parking because of the speculation going on there due to lowered property taxes coupled with a zoning code that requires ample parking which tends to make development very expensive in an dense, urban area like Chicago. One problem with surface lots in a downtown area is that they are taxed like vacant lots, thus taxes are very low for what would ordinarily be an expensive piece of land. Meanwhile, the land owner is getting a constant revenue stream via parking fees until he/she determines the best time for redevelopment (which might be decades!).

      I am of two opinions about this development. I love the fact that another surface parking lot that dots the West Loop would disappear while lamenting the tons of additional parking. However, I recognize that this parking serves Old St. Pat’s and that weddings are an important part of their revenue. But even more, I’m glad to see more density and vibrancy in an area that could use more of both.

      Post a Reply
  3. The rendering above has this building underscaled by at least 15-20%; it would appear much taller than that.

    Post a Reply
    • Editor

      As noted in the text, it is not an official rendering; it is a mock-up done by the web site. Hopefully SCB will come up with a to-scale rendering if it releases a new design based on the input it received earlier this week.

      Post a Reply

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