Eleven years after the Chicago architecture world was dazzled by SBC’s design for a Mandarin Oriental hotel tower just behind Michigan Plaza, there are signs once again that something might be happening there.
It was 2006 that plans were revealed for a 74-story, 900-foot-tall building that would house 250 hotel rooms, 150 luxury condominiums, and 100 über-luxe palaces in the sky branded as The Mandarin Oriental Residences.
When the economy went all pear-shaped, the $750 million plan ate itself, ended up in foreclosure, in court, and out of commission.
During the intervening years there have been whispers of interest in the property from random bodies of varying seriousness. It bears the official address of 210 North Stetson Avenue, but also has the vanity address of 215 North Michigan Avenue. Ooh la la.
Now things appear to be getting serious. According to city documents, it appears there is a developer interested in the site. The developer isn’t interested in the hotel portion, though. It appears to be aiming for an all-residential solution for the space.
Specifically, it has asked the city for an opinion on how many residences it might be allowed to squeeze into the space under current zoning laws if the hotel rooms were replaced by residences. If we’re reading the paperwork right, the answer is 375.
What’s interesting is that this most recent inquiry is not the first along these lines. Back in February of 2016, the city’s Department of Planning and Development was asked the exact same question, and gave the exact same answer. It’s not known if that was the same developer or not, though both use the same big name law firm.
What’s new this time is that the developer also wants to know if it would be subjected to the city’s Affordable Housing ordinance. The answer from the city is no, because the zoning for that parcel pre-dates the city’s Affordable Housing ordinance.
We’ll continue to keep our ears to the ground on this one.