Remember when it was promised that the office tower portion of River Point wouldn’t be built until the public park was finished? Yeah, neither does the developer.
The Chicago Architecture Blog’s Daniel Schell ambled by the construction site at 444 West Lake Street recently and took these pictures of the tower portion rising on the corner on West Lake and North Canal Streets. Right now the steel frame is about three or four stories high. The office building will eventually reach a height of 730 feet and 52 stories.
The public park/podium is currently a cordoned-off warren of construction trailers and piles of life-sized Erector Set pieces waiting to be assembled into a skyscraper.
Burned by the failed development of the Chicago Spire, which was also supposed to include the long-delayed development of DuSable Park, 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly pushed for the developers of River Point to build the public park first, and then the tower second. That way if the development failed, the city would at least have another link in the Chicago Riverwalk system completed.
For what it’s worth, we re-read all of the paperwork approved by the city on this project, and couldn’t find the park-first requirement anywhere in black-and-white.
Still, it’s not an entire lock-out. The lower walkway along the edge of the river appears to be open, and has been landscaped with lit evergreen trees that reflect on the water nicely at night in a very tasteful, if belated, Christmas scene.
You may remember this was the same project that sandbagged Mr. Reilly when it was announced by then-new mayor Rahm Emanuel. At the time back in May of 2012, Mr. Reilly noted that, contrary to custom, “the announcement of this upcoming construction came on the developer’s timeline, not the Alderman’s.”