No rude waiters slinging insults and cheese fries. No bobby-soxers dancing on counter tops, shaking their… milkshakes. Just a roomful of River North locals curious to see 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly introduce the new apartment tower slated to take over Ed Debevic’s space at 640 North Wells Street.
If there were any of Ed’s supporters ready to chain themselves to their favorite booth, they must have been too intimidated by the meeting’s location (Gino’s East — a pizza joint) to speak up.
Much in keeping with the venerable old diner’s philosophy of “Eat and Get Out,” Tuesday night’s meeting lasted less than 30 minutes, as audience members had very few questions to ask of JDL Development president and founder James Letchinger, who presented the plans for the Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture-designed skyscraper before opening the floor to queries. Some of the details:
- The 280-foot tall, 22-story tower will boast 251 apartments and 117 parking spaces.
- The units, all rentals, will be convertibles, studios, one-, two-, and three-bedrooms.
- Rents are likely to range from $2,000 to $3,500, though Mr. Letchinger stated it’s too early to know with certainty.
- There will be retail space on the ground floor, along the Ontario and Wells facings.
- There will be a small structure to the west of the tower, only one or two stories, perhaps for a dog-care facility.
All traffic entering and exiting the tower will do so from West Erie Street, using the alley at the back (west side) of the building. The alley itself will be widened from its current 14 feet to about 18 feet. No curb cuts will be added for this project, while the existing cut into the Debevic’s parking lot will be removed. Trucks will also access the loading dock via the alley from Erie.
One concern brought up by attendees regarded traffic. They were assured by KLOA principal Michael Werthmann that with an estimated 30-35% of this tower’s residents using vehicles to commute on a daily basis, there would be minimal, if any, additional traffic compared with what already turns in and out of Ed Debevic’s parking lot. Alderman Reilly also offered assistance in mitigating the number of drivers now using the alley to short cut from Ontario Street up to Erie.
Already having letters of approval from the River North Residents Association, as well as Alderman Reilly’s own building, the nearby Flair Tower, and since the size of the project eliminates the need for any zoning change requests, JDL has their most optimistic ground-breaking date set for November of this year. If future discussions result in as little resistance as Tuesday’s did, they should just get their way.