Cross Out XO. Pencil in Townhomes

Drawing of proposed 1712 South Prairie townhomes

The South Loop’s latest townhome development could fill in a long-vacant space that was one supposed to be a stunning feat of architecture.

Tonight, South Loop residents got a preview of a proposed townhouse development at 1712 South Prairie Avenue.  That’s the location where the Lucien Lagrange-designed XO condominium buildings were supposed to be erected years ago, before the economy collapsed.  The tower seemed to defy gravity, and won a number of awards, in spite of not only missing their 2009 completion date, but failing to be built at all.

Now a new developer is interested in filling the plot with townhouses.  The design presented at tonight’s meeting was preliminary, but Jack George, attorney for developer SRZ, offered the basics: 62  townhouses and 124 parking spaces (two for each unit).

The building height will top off at 45 feet. Units will range from 2,800 square feet to 4,300 square feet. Prices aren’t set yet, but representatives for SRZ suggested they’d be in the $300 per square foot range.

Demolition of the existing structure on the site could begin in the next few months, pending a required zoning change. That’s the only real impediment—currently, the location is zoned DX5, which does not permit dwellings on the first floor. Developers plan to go for a DR5. The location also falls within the Lakefront Protection District, so appropriate applications and standards must be met.

A brick-and-stone design is planned, with substantial green space and landscaping. The audience was generally supportive of the townhouse design, until one resident asked about visitor parking. The developer suggested street parking would have to suffice, which generated a loud groan—in unison—from many in the audience.

Drawing of proposed 1712 South Prairie townhomes

Bill Motchan

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at bill@ChicagoArchitecture.org.

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