Another skyscraper is in the works that may help insulate downtown Chicago from the noise and chaos of the Kennedy Expressway.
A new 38-story building has been proposed for the block between North Union Avenue and North Halsted Street, north of the Union Pacific rail lines. According to an e-mail blast from 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly’s office, the plot in question bears the addresses 347 North Halsted Street and 346 North Union Avenue. That means the western portion of the space is part of the roof that forms the primary traffic checkpoint known as Hubbard’s Cave.
Six years ago we did a story about Hubbard’s Cave and how it got its name. Short version: The name comes from Hubbard Street and was coined by a WGN helicopter traffic reporter in the early 1960’s.
Plonking a 373-unit residential tower on the site right above a busy freeway certainly would be a dramatic visual for drivers heading north on I-90/94. From a technical standpoint, it’s not unprecedented. Chicago architects have done that kind of plonking before, most recently at 4 East Cedar Street in the Gold Coast where friends-of-the-blog SCB had to plonk around the CTA’s Red Line subway tunnel. (“Plonk” is the word of the day. Try to work it into polite conversation.)
But why build on the western, freeway covering, portion of the site when there’s all that lovely solid (for Chicago) space on the east side of the block? Because putting up a 400ish-foot-tall tower on the Union Avenue side would decimate the views of the people living at K2, which is four stories shorter than this new proposal. Neighborhood opposition is a powerful force in Chicago’s 42nd ward, so it’s best not to vex the neighbors.
We should find out more about the proposal in the next couple of weeks, and when we know something, you’ll know something.