Sexton Residents Wail About New View-Killing Tower; Former Alderman Stuns by Taking the Blame

If you thought Onni Group, the Vancouver based developer, was done after recently announcing redevelopment plans for Atrium Village, think again. Tonight, Onni revealed its plan to build a 32-story residential tower at 353 West Grand Avenue during a presentation at the East Bank Club.

Rendering of 353 West GrandWhen complete, the tower will sit on the west end of the site while the remaining area will consist of 15,000 square feet of retail space that butts up against Orleans and Grand. The base of the building, which includes a parking garage and the large retail section, will be built of brick and masonry to blend into an area of River North still hosting a number of similar warehouse-like structures. The tower will primarily be glass with thin white lines of concrete running from top to bottom.

That is, if the tower ever gets built. The developer was met by a noisy crowd at the East Bank Club that mainly consisted of residents of the adjacent Sexton condominium building. Sexton residents living on the first five floors with a view looking North were not so eager to learn they could soon find themselves staring into the building’s parking podium and retail structure. Their concerns didn’t stop there. Sexton residents also became heated to learn the proposed site layout calls for a shared alleyway only 30 feet wide, with one entrance in and one exit out.

The Sexton condominium association seems to have already geared up for a fight. It had an attorney present at the meeting, who in front of the audience, called out the developer’s attorney claiming that Onni Group does not have the right to use the alleyway in the way it proposes. We’ll see how the city decides on that one.

Rendering of 353 West GrandIn a very curious development, former 42nd Ward Alderman Burt Natarus was at tonight’s even hosted by current 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly. Natarus stood up and told the audience that he deserves the blame for transforming River North from an industrial district into a residential skyscraper district.  He added, “I’m a bad man.”  Apparently exasperated with the NIMBY sentiment in the room, he told the audience he had no idea where they got the notion their views were protected.

If the legal battles dwindle and all goes to plan, Onni representatives said that they foresee breaking ground on the property in summer, 2016. Keep in mind this includes demolition of the old Clark & Barlow hardware store standing on the property now.

  • Rendering of 353 West GrandDeveloper: Onni Group
  • Architect: Pappageorge Haymes
  • 330 apartments
  • 5th story will host an amenities deck, including an outdoor pool
  • Base includes a 4 story parking podium
  • 206 parking spaces for residents
  • 65 parking spaces for retail
  • Approximately 15,000 square feet of retail
  • Seeking LEED Silver certification
Location: 353 West Grand, River North

Author: Zachary Pollack

Zachary is a lawyer by day and architecture buff by night. At the office Zachary focuses his practice on working with commercial real estate developers and developers focused on subsidized housing projects. Although Zachary grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, he had his heart set on Chicago ever since visiting as a child and being in awe of the city's skyscrapers. Zachary lives in Old Town. On weekends you can find him strolling the streets checking out progress on all the construction sites. Feel free to get in touch with Zac at

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