One thing has ceased leading to another at 212 West Illinois, the on-again off-again residential skyscraper in River North. It was originally planned in 2007, then mothballed for years, then resurrected along with a deal to be the custodian of the old Engine Company 42 building, then nothing happened for a while, then a few weeks ago what appeared to be site preparations began.
Since then… nothing.
So, what’s the status of this project? Well, it’s hard to say.
- The good news is that it’s no longer a surface parking lot. With the exception of 300 West Washington Street, it is unusual for a former surface parking lot to remain undeveloped for very long. Without a building on it, it simply becomes a money hole.
- Also good news is the fact that someone is paying for the cranes and the security guard and his plastic privy. Again, it’s a money hole without a building on it.
- The zoning permission for this skyscraper expires in December of this year. If something isn’t rising from the site by then, the developer will have to start the very long and expensive permitting process all over again (assuming it doesn’t get a one-year extension, which is no unprecedented).
- However, the 212 West Illinois page on the developer’s web site which promised “many modern luxuries like a virtual golf room, 7th floor rooftop deck with landscaped dog run and a large hot tub, built for all seasons” is gone.
And so is the rest of the developer’s web site.
So, in essence, it’s crunch time. Either work begins in the next few months on this tower, or it goes back into the box with the giant packing peanuts and mothballs.
Our guess is that we’ll se something happen very soon. A little over a month ago, someone wrote a $375 check to the City of Chicago for a permit for a nice shiny Manitowoc MD485 tower crane to be erected at this site. In fact, the people behind this project have handed the city $2,300 so far this year for permission to erect the tower crane, demolish the parking lot, renovate the old fire station, and to tap into a city traffic light to power a security camera.
Real estate developers don’t write checks if they don’t expect to make that money back.