Another Hurdle Cleared for West Loop’s Newest Riverside Skyscraper

150 North Riverside diagram

The West Loop is getting yet another skyscraper.  Chicago’s Plan Commission has given the green light to 150 North Riverside, the precarious-looking tower that will be wedged between the Amtrak tracks leading into Union Station.  All that’s left now is city council approval, which is traditionally a rubber stamp affair.

The tower is designed by friends-of-the-blog, Goettsch Partners, and developed by John O’Donnell and U.S. Equities.  It will be 53 stories, and 150 North Riverside drawing747 feet tall.  The project also includes tunnelizing the train tracks and spreading a public park across the roof.  The same thing is happening on the other side of Lake Street at the site of River Point (444 West Lake Street), much to the chagrin of River Point’s developer, Hines.

Even though it hasn’t been built yet, 150 North Riverside is an award-winning design.  The Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat awarded it “Best Tall Building in the Middle East and Africa” when it was built in Abu Dhabi.  Now Goettsch is reusing recycling sloppy seconds adapting the design for use in its own backyard.

We know you love the bullet points, so here they are:

  • Maximum height: 746½ feet
  • Levels: 53+2 below park level
  • Height to top of highest occupied floor: 707½ feet
  • Building overhang: 42½ feet on each side of the central core
  • 150 North Riverside diagramSite area: 107,568 square feet
  • Glass facade colors: reflective silver and blue/gray
  • Metal facade: Color-coated aluminum fins
  • Base facade: Light gray granite
  • Podium facade: Metal panels
  • Green roof alert!
  • Total green roof size: 59,410 square feet (41,558 square feet on podium, 17,852 on tower)
  • Glassed-in lobby size: 20,624 square feet
  • Park features: Bike racks, river overlooks, glass-enclosed pavilion, benches.
  • Total park size: 63,503 square feet
  • Parking: 77 spaces
  • Bicycle parking: 25 spaces
  • Loading docks: 3
  • New seawall length: 381.43 feet
  • Train tunnel clearance: 17′ 1″ to 19′ 10″
  • Street to be eliminated: North West Water Street
  • Building length: 235.85 feet
  • Building width: 125 feet
  • Minimum riverwalk width: 12 feet
  • 53: Mechanical (triple height)
  • 34-52: Office
  • 33: Mechanical, Office
  • 7-32: Office
  • 6: Mechanical
  • 4-5: Storage
  • 2-3: Fictional
  • 1: Lobby, parking
  • LL1: Mechanical, locker rooms, restrooms (4 stalls men, 12 stalls women)
  • LL2: Mechanical, restaurant, gym, meeting rooms
  • Tower elevators: 22
  • Planned foliage: Honeylocust trees, Whitespire birch trees, Chanticleer pear trees, English ivy, Boston ivy

Forty-second Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly gave details about the city’s green-light of 150 North Riverside in an e-mail to his constituents.  You can read it following this gallery of building diagrams:

 

The applicant, O’Donnell Investment Company proposes to construct a deck over the railroad tracks along the Chicago River between Lake Street and Randolph Street in order to build a 757-foot office tower with green space and public river walk improvements above.

This development complies with its current zoning classification of DX-16 in regards to FAR and use, so negotiations and public dialogue did not include the usual discussion about density bonuses. Further, TIF money was not part of the conversation, as Alderman Reilly did not support the use of any city subsidies to support this project. All improvements to be made beyond city requirements were agreed upon by the development team in order to create a more compatible, privately-funded development for the neighborhood.

The O’Donnell Investment Company presented their initial development plan to Alderman Reilly in late 2011. Over the course of 18 months, the Alderman held several meetings with the Developer, residential neighbors and community organizations to understand their concerns and conduct a dialogue focused on site infrastructure and community benefits.

In June of this year, after almost a dozen proposal iterations, O’Donnell presented a plan which largely addressed Alderman Reilly’s concerns and residents’ requested changes related to: accessible, at-grade open green space; maximizing the amount of green space while reducing the amount of hardscape; providing public access to the river; and managing traffic and infrastructure needs commensurate with the scale of the proposal.

The plan presented at CPC is a sharp contrast to what was initially presented to Alderman Reilly in 2011. The planned development documents include:

  • A 65% decrease in the height and size of the above-grade parking structure (reduced from 3 stories in height: 40′ high to 1-story in height)
  • A 65% decrease of the garage area and total onsite parking spaces (reduced from 220+ cars to less than 80)
  • A 40% increase of green space (increased from 35,000SF to over 50,000SF)
  • A 60% reduction of hardscape (reduced from 25,000SF to less than 10,000SF)
  • A 33% increase of the overall public open space area (increased from 30,000SF to over 40,000SF)

Based upon these significant changes, Alderman Reilly determined that the project plan warranted consideration by community stakeholders, and a public presentation was held on July 31, 2013 to gather additional public input.

The meeting resulted in suggestions for additional revisions and public benefit opportunities including: Signalized mid-block pedestrian crosswalks to be added at both Lake and Randolph connecting to the existing and future riverwalks from north of River Point, south all the way to Van Buren Complete reconstruction of existing river wall to new 2012 flood guidelines Installation of signal and/or crosswalk improvements at four (4) additional intersections (per CDOT):

  • Canal / Randolph
  • Canal / Lake
  • Lake / Wacker
  • Lake / Wells
  • Public bike racks added at both Lake and Randolph Streets
  • Publicly accessible stair up to the new green open space from Lake Street
  • Garage entry ingress/egress modifications at Lake and Randolph Streets in order to respond to neighboring concerns about traffic and loading, providing more area for circulation and pedestrian safety at both access points.
  • Modifications to landscaping and planting palette to address concerns about sun/shade conditions and tree height in relation to adjacent residential balconies

This proposal was routed through Alderman Reilly’s standard, rigorous community review process. At his direction, the Developer met with area stakeholders multiple times, affording residents ample opportunity to fully understand the project and voice their concerns.

After receiving the necessary approvals by the Plan Commission and Committee on Zoning, Alderman Reilly will host a construction logistics and staging meeting for residents to understand the level of disruption the upcoming development will bring and all of the protections the City of Chicago has in place to ensure their home will remain structurally sound. Information about this future construction meeting will be publicized in future Reilly Reports.

Upon completion, this project will be an asset to the 42nd Ward and the city. The new open green space will be yet another premier public space along the Chicago River. The entire development will be privately funded, concealing unattractive, noisy, polluting rail tracks which are currently visible from many prominent downtown locations.

Alderman Reilly thanks the Fulton River District Association, other community stakeholders (specifically the residents of Randolph Place at 165 N. Canal), the Developer and project manager from the Department of Planning, Fernando Espinoza for their work to resolve contentious issues during this public process and craft the best possible final project. This level of cooperation and commitment by all parties is a process that Alderman Reilly is proud to be a part of, ensuring responsible development in the 42nd Ward.

 

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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