“O,” Dear! The Tips Just Keep on a-Coming!

Building O location

When it rains, it pours.

Two days ago, one of our anonymous readers dropped a dime on our tip line and showed us the place on McHugh Construction’s web site where we could confirm that bids are going out for Lakeshore East Building O (201 North Columbus Drive).  Chicagoland’s skyscraper nerds went apeshit.

The official Chicago Architecture Blog Tip-O-Matic.  Your anonymous tips end up here.   It's not a phone, so don't try calling it.

The Official Chicago Architecture Blog Tip-O-Matic. Your anonymous tips end up here. It’s not a phone, so resist the urge to call it.

Not to be outdone, another anonymous reader hit the tip line last night with more information about the project.  We’re going to assume it was a younger member of our audience because the tip arrived in the form of 14 text messages to our Official Chicago Architecture Blog Tip-o-Matic (206/227-1096).

There were lots of great stats and things, and a mention of “archt-bkln,” which means either the architect of Building O is friends-of-the-blog bKL Architecture, or a firm out of Brooklyn.  In spite of being official “friends of the blog,” bKL is very good about keeping its mouth shut and not violating developer embargoes. Still, we’ll just assume it’s bKL, not Brooklyn.

Other savory morsels:

  • Developer: Magellan Development
  • Engineer: Mackie Consultants
  • Structural Engineer: Jonathan Sladek
  • Stories: 60
  • Apartments: 574
  • Hotel rooms: 684
  • Cost: $150,000,000
  • Retail space (North Columbus Drive): 6,000 square feet
  • Retail space (North Park Drive): 4,000 square feet
  • Parking: 197 spaces
  • Green roof alert!
  • LEED goal: Silver

Ordinarily we don’t publish blind rumors, but we were able to confirm all of the above with one of the online construction search engines, so it’s legit. (And confirming it wasn’t exactly free, so click on an ad or two, buddy.)

One thing strikes us as interesting: The parking.  From what we understand the additional 197 spaces will not be their own parking garage, but an extension of the Aqua parking garage.

Can you say, “lawsuit?”  I knew you could.

Building O locationIf you’re the sort of person pays upwards of $350/month (plus $75 non-refundable setup fee!) to park at Aqua,  you may have noticed these strange signs at the entrances.  They bear a map of Lakeshore East, and the tiny text below the map states something along of the lines of “If you don’t live inside this map, work at a building inside this map, or are not a guest of the hotel, then don’t even think about parking here.”  Of course, everyone and his mother ignores the sign; if they can even see it.

The sign is part of a legal settlement between Chicago’s least favorite parking meter operating company and the city.  When Mayor Daley leased four of the city’s parking garages to Morgan Stanley in 2006, part of the deal was that there could be no more public parking garages built nearby.

As unfair as it sounds, it makes sense for the investment bank.  If people can park a newer, cheaper garages, then there’s no reason to park at the four under lease.  Then the company is left with a bunch of empty, worthless parking spaces.  Not good.

But the problem is that the city did, in fact, approve the construction of a public parking garage after agreeing to the parking garage lease.  It’s the one under Aqua.  By then, the garages leases were under the wing of Chicago Loop Parking, and its  lawyers threw City Hall their best “Oh no you di’int!” finger wags and head bobs and handed Rahm a parking ticket for $200 million.

An arbitrator knocked that amount down to about $58 million of your tax dollars.  In Chicago math that works out to six Daley-era police brutality settlements.

So, will the construction of nearly 200 new parking spaces at Aqua awaken the legal krakens?  Only the lawyers know for sure.  The most recent information we could find is about the parking garages is a year-old Crain’s article stating that the French company that ended up with them was left with a bad taste in its mouth, and was going to give the garages back to the city.  If that actually happened, then the Aqua parking garage may live happily ever after.  If it didn’t, then there could be blood in the water.



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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