With ceremonial shovels, gawking bankers, and a background of construction equipment, Fifield Companies broke ground on its newest residential tower yesterday, called Next at 347 West Chestnut Street.
The Chicago Architecture Blog’s Daniel Schell was there as brass shovels sliced into soil for the ceremonial groundbreaking, as he was several months ago when backhoes gouged the earth for the first time in the building’s actual groundbreaking. When completed, the Pappageorge Haymes-designed building will soar 28 stories into the sky over the neighborhood developers are re-christening NoCA (for “North of Chicago Avenue”) and we’re re-re-christening ALPO (“Around Locust [Street], Proximally Old Town”), with exactly the same authority.
In reality, the neighborhood is Cabrini Green, which has seen a horde of developers descend on it like Blackhawks on a hockey puck, as they try to meet, and beat, the demand for downtown Chicago housing. “Next” will do its part with 305 residences above a 186-space parking podium ringed with 6,000 square feet of retail space.
The new residents will have no shortage of new neighbors to wave to from their high-rise windows. There are more than a dozen new projects planned, proposed, or under construction within a short walk of Next. Everything from townhomes to skyscrapers to boutique hotels, plus ancillary retail space and a growing acceptance of the notion that more parks means higher property values. When completely rebuilt, the Carbini area has the potential to be a very interesting and vibrant residential community. Similar to Lakeshore East, but without the single-developer hegemony that makes that project so sterile.