Lend Lease and CMK Plow Ahead With Ambitious 5-Tower South Loop Plan

These two move fast.

This is the second time we’re starting an article about Lend Lease and CMK with “Just days after announcing…”  So, here we go:

Just days after announcing an architect Ralph Johnson had been picked for the South Loop mixed use project known as River South (600 South Wells Street), the Anglo-Aussie combine has filed paperwork with the city to actually make it happen.

The project will be completed in five phases, with each phase corresponding to a sub-area of the space.

Diagram of River SouthSub-Area A:

  • Maximum height: 600 feet
  • Stories: 47
  • Floor area ratio: 12.89
  • Maximum number of residences: 626
  • Minimum required parking spaces: 251
  • Minimum required bicycle parking spaces: 126
  • Residential entry via driveway off West Harrison Street
  • Parking garage entry via driveway off West Harrison Street
  • Loading dock access via driveway off West Harrison Street
  • One small retail space facing West Harrison Street
  • Green roof alert! 7,000 square feet

Diagram of River SouthSub-Area B:

  • Maximum height: 500 feet
  • Stories: 38
  • Floor area ratio: 9.96
  • Maximum number of residences: 612
  • Minimum required parking spaces: 245
  • Minimum required bicycle parking spaces:  123
  • Residential entry via driveway off of West Harrison Street
  • Parking garage entry  via driveway off of West Harrison Street
  • Loading dock access via driveway off of West Harrison Street
  • 17 Townhomes with private yards facing the park, hiding the parking garage
  • Green roof alert! 7,000 square feet

Diagram of River SouthSub-Area C:

  • Maximum height: 380 feet
  • Stores: 28
  • Floor area ratio: 12.09
  • Maximum number of residences: 402
  • Minimum required parking spaces: 161
  • Minimum required bicycle parking spaces: 81
  • Residential entry from South Wells Street
  • Parking garage access from South Wells Street
  • Loading dock access  from South Wells Street
  • Small retail space facing South Wells Street and the park entrance
  • Green roof alert! 5,500 square feet

Diagram of River SouthSub-Area D:

  • Maximum height: 380 feet
  • Stories: 28
  • Floor area ratio: 10
  • Maximum number of residences: 472
  • Minimum required parking spaces: 189
  • Minimum required bicycle parking spaces: 95
  • Residential entry from South Wells Street
  • Parking garage access  from South Wells Street
  • Loading dock access from West Polk Street
  • 13 townhomes with private yards facing the park
  • Retail space facing South Wells Street
  • Green roof alert! 7,500 square feet

Diagram of River SouthSub-Area E:

  • Maximum height: 500 feet
  • Stories: 38
  • Floor area ratio: 17.5
  • Maximum number of residences: 587
  • Minimum required parking spaces: 235
  • Minimum required bicycle parking spaces: 118
  • Residential entry via West Polk Street
  • Parking garage access via West Polk Street
  • Nine townhomes with private yards facing the park
  • Green roof alert! 5,000 square feet

Although no public open space is required by the city, diagrams of the project show a little over 80,000 square feet of space will be left open, much of it fronting the Chicago River, with a 41-foor-wide corridor extending east to South Wells Street, and a 20-foot-wide corridor leading south to West Polk Street (repeatedly incorrectly labeled “S POLK STREET” by Perkins+Will, which should should get it right for $2.2 million).

The 80,000 square feet of the open space will be landscaped with paths and trees and bushes and lawns and such. There will even be a couple of bioswales to help clean storm water before it hits the river.  The Wells Street connection is envisioned as a plaza with a long east-west central fountain.

Fans of Chicago’s rapidly expanding riverwalk system will be joyed to know that the city requires the development team to maintain a 30-foot setback from the east bank of the South Branch of the Chicago River and to develop another patch of public riverwalk in that space.  Though, there can be some encroachment similar to the support columns that cause the bKL-designed Wolf Point West to straddle the riverwalk on the North Branch of the river.  Right now, plans call for one tower each in Subarea-A and Subarea-E to hang over the riverwalk.  Any building overhang must clear the riverwalk by at least three stories, and no gates are allowed.  The city learned its lesson on that front from a certain condo development on the North Branch where “public” access to the “public” riverwalk involves convincing a security guard to unlock a gate for you.

The city also learned its lesson from the Fordham Chicago Spire fiasco and is requiring the riverwalk to be completed within 18 months of the developers getting their permits. The developer can get an extension if there is a labor strike, or a riot, or an earthquake, or if the government is overthrown. So they’ve got that going for them.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of permits involved here.  Not just the usual municipal maze.  There’s also permits required from CDOT, the previously mentioned MWRD, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard.  Lend Lease better hope the exchange rate improves with the Aussie dollar, because it has a lot of lawyers to pay for.

Lend Lease and CMK have not yet told the city how they feel about affordable housing.  Like every other large residential project in downtown Chicago, they have the choice of including a small number of affordable residences in their buildings, or coughing up cash so the CHA can build them elsewhere.  The team would have to hit the ATM for up to $8.7 million to keep the poors out.  And do it before any construction can start.

Now, time for the firehose:

  • Developer: 1000 S. Wells (Chicago) LLC
  • For realsies: Metro-Sydney’s Lend Lease and Chicago’s CMK
  • Architecture firm: Perkins+Will
  • Address: 650 South Wells Street
  • Address: 700 South Wells Street
  • Address: 223 West Harrison Street
  • Address: 201 West Polk Street
  • Address: 201 West Polk Street
  • Site-wide floor area ratio: 8.75
  • Maximum number of residences: 2,699
  • Minimum required parking spaces: 1,080
  • Minimum number of bicycle parking spaces: 540
  • Gross site size: 317,968 square feet
  • New public streets: 35,258 square feet
  • Net site size: 282,710 square feet
  • The project will create lots of stormwater runoff, so the developers need permission from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to let it flow into the Chicago River.
Location: 600 South Wells Street, South Loop

Editor

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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