No. 9 Walton Just Got Real [updated]

No. 9 Walton pre-construction

He’s not here to fix the cable

Yesterday we told you about No. 9 Walton (9 West Walton Street), the thumbnail sketch of a luxury skyscraper planned for Chicago’s Gold Coast.  At the time we posited that it was still a long way from web site to reality and party hats and streamers were not yet in order.  But it turns out that a trip to Party City may be closer than we thought.

Upon seeing yesterday’s article, The Chicago Architecture Blog’s construction gumshoe, Daniel Schell, said to himself, “Self, that looks awfully familiar.”  And he was right.  For just three days earlier, he’d been by the corner of North State and West Walton Streets and took this picture:

No. 9 Walton pre-construction

Anatomy of a tease

Yep.  It’s a soil testing rig.  Quite likely getting ready to test some soil.  On the very same hunk of Gold Coast that JDL Development’s agents are showing off to the city’s well-heeled as possibly their next pied-à-terre in the sky.

We’ve seen this before, though — the first baby steps toward a new skyscraper, and then… a long wait.  But how long?  In the case of 200 North Michigan it was about seven months from the day the first soil testing rig showed up on Garland Court until demolition crews started disassembling the old warehouse-turned-office building to make way for the residential skyscraper now under construction.

But we’ve seen longer.  Look at 130 North Franklin.  Monday marked exactly seven months since soil sampling trucks showed up there and started tasting the rainbow of flavors buried beneath Chicago’s crunchy candy shell.  But is there a groundbreaking?  Nope.  And as far as the City of Chicago is concerned, the place is still, from a legal standpoint, an unbuilt parking lot.

So, does the fact that a soil sampling crew showed up at 9 West Walton Street mean there is hope that No. 9 Walton will become a reality?  Yes.  But it’s still far too soon for skyscraper nerds to break out the celebratory chocolate milk to toast the start of another new residential tower.  Unless it’s Oberweis.  That stuff is too good to save.

Update: March 25, 2015 @ 2:23pm

For those of you keeping score at home, we’ve been informed that the architecture firm working on this building is Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture.

Location: 9 West Walton Street, Gold Coast

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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