Piecing Together Streeterville’s Newest Skyscraper

Chicago skyline puzzle

Chicago is not New York.  It can’t be said enough.

Chicagoans wear black because we’re modest.  New Yorkers wear black because it’s fashionable.  Chicagoans wring their hands and worry about being a “global city.”  New Yorkers didn’t even know there was a contest.

And when a New York real estate developer decides to build a new skyscraper, there’s a big announcement with balloons and dancing girls and circus elephants and confetti and clowns, and did we mention dancing girls?

When a Chicago real estate developer decides to build a new skyscraper, he tries to keep it a secret.  We’ve asked many an architect and developer about this phenomenon, and none have been able to provide an answer.

So it is with much disappointment that Related Midwest is really leaning hard on the “Midwest” portion of its name and not its New York roots when it comes to 451 East Grand Avenue.

This is the empty square of a lot wedged between Related’s flashy new 500 Lake Shore Drive apartment building and the parking-garage-with-a-park-for-a-hat that was built for the Park View West tower on the other end of the block.

Tall Tower

This was formerly going to be the location of Park View East, Park View West’s companion building.  Before that, this was going to be the location of Cesar Pelli’s Tall Tower, a 2,000-foot-tall three-legged telecommunications platform.   Before that, a 60-story condominium tower.

Now it appears it’s going to be a 67-story residential block.  That word came early this week from 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly’s office, and echoed a day later by SOAR, the local NIMBY organization.

We’ve known for a long time that something was coming to this location, but the pieces of the puzzle have been slow in coming.  It’s like Chicago developers enjoy watching the scavenger hunt play out online and in Crain’s Chicago Business.

The first clue came during out May, 2013 tour of 500LSD.  Gazing out the windows to the west, we asked Related Midwest president Curt Bailey why some of the building’s cheapest apartments have the most epic city views.  He pointed down at the vacant lot and remarked that in the not too distant future, something would rise at that location.

A few months later—whammo!  An article in Crain’s stating that Related had bought the property.  Clue #2.

Two months ago, Crain’s published clue #3, an article stating that Related was ready to submit its plans for 451 East Grand to the city and that it had hired fellow Brooklynite and incredibly famous architect Robert A.M. Stern to design the building.

Then this week, word that the developer’s hand will finally be forced.  You can only hide so long in the 42nd Ward.  Eventually Alderman Reilly will catch up to you.  In this case, he’s announced a public meeting for the end of the month where the developer’s plans for 451 East Grand will be put on display.

This is an important event not just because it’s a lakefront skyscraper.  But because it will be the first thing that Mr. Stern has designed for Chicago that is bigger than a bus shelter.  While he’s prolific in New York and Los Angeles, to date flyover country has eluded him.

It will be interesting how he is able to fit 100 condominiums and 400 apartments on such a small piece of land and still maximize views for all.  It can be reasonably assumed that the apartments will be on the lower 45 floors of the building, and then once the tower rises to clear 500LSD next door, the condominiums will appear.

If you’d like to see for yourself, stop by the InterContinental’s Seville Ballroom at 6:00pm on July 28th.  It is then that all will be revealed, and Chicago will finally get its dancing girls moment.

Location: 451 East Grand Avenue, Streeterville


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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