The West Loop’s Gateway Phase II residential development (9 South Green Street) is finally moving ahead. Tuesday night, 130 residents gathered at the Merit School of Music and voiced their approval of the latest version of the residential development at the corner of South Green and West Madison.
The meeting was hosted by the West Loop Community Organization and 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr.
Like many West Loop meetings where building height is at issue, this one had its share of drama.
During the public comment portion of the session, more than a dozen residents spoke about their affection for the neighborhood character and how low-rise buildings keep that neighborhood feeling intact. Anything above 12 stories made them uneasy.
The proposed development, an apartment building, will top off at 15 stories. That makes it one of the taller structures west of Halsted Street. Mostly, the residents who spoke out worried about a domino effect. Their concern: the next proposal would be 17 stories, then 20.
Originally, the Gateway Phase II development was zoned even higher than that, as a 22-story 250-foot high structure, to house a hotel. The developer, Taxman Corporation, was close to a deal with Hyatt, but the developer says the hotel chain withdrew just before closing. Negotiations continued with other potential hoteliers but none felt the West Loop location fit their plans.
Then, last February, the developer offered a revised plan, 20 stories, and a height of 200 feet. It would be an apartment building rather than a hotel. Residents at that meeting were vocal and nearly all unhappy with the plan. Their displeasure at that time was related to the height of the proposed structure.
At last night’s meeting the latest version of the Gateway Phase II was revealed. Architect Joe Antunovich of the local firm Antunovich Associates offered a description and renderings of the development. It’s still an apartment building, but its height is now 175 feet.
The first level will hold retail space and parking, with two more levels of parking above that. Twelve stories above the parking levels will have studio, one bedroom and two bedroom apartments ranging from 797 square feet to 1,077 square feet.
Following the brief presentation by Antunovich, residents offered their critique of the building. Nearly all were unhappy with the 15-story structure as described.
Complicating matters was the fact that the original zoning is still in effect. If a hotelier appeared and showed interest in the property, Taxman Corporation could move forward with a 250-foot high, 22-story structure. None of the residents found that possibility appealing.
Taxman Corporation founder Seymour “Sy” Taxman huddled with Antunovich. He then spoke with Burnett, who told the audience Taxman would be willing to shave off five feet for a height of 170 feet, but still 15 stories.
His offer didn’t initially sway the audience. Residents found anything above 12 stories to be a tipping point they couldn’t accept.
There were offers of acceptance if Alderman Burnett would lead his fellow West Loop aldermen toward a height limit on future West Loop developments. Burnett said he’d talk to the other aldermen but he couldn’t make any guarantees.
Nearing the two-hour mark of the meeting, Sy Taxman spoke directly to the audience.
“This building has been squeezed and squeezed and squeezed,” Taxman said. “It’s down to the bare bones. I’m standing here today and I’m begging you to give me a positive vote. I’ll deliver 170 feet. I’m asking this community group to vote up or down.”
Burnett called for a vote, and the audience gave it a thumbs-up.