West Town’s SPECTRE Lands on Paper

The latest vision for a building to replace the surface parking lot at 801 West Lake Street has been filed with the City of Chicago.  SPECTRE is a project of neighborhood outfit Shapack Partners, with San Francisco’s Gensler at the virtual drafting table.  It’s worth mentioning that on some maps, this property is marked “The Green,” but we’re going with SPECTRE because that’s the name in city paperwork.  We’re also capitalizing it because that’s what Ernst Blofeld would have wanted.

Diagram of SPECTRE

Diagram of SPECTRE

There have been a few proposals for this block of West Town in recent years.  It’s located on the prime — if noisy — southwest corner of Lake and Halsted Streets.

The latest iteration calls for a 275-foot-tall building broken into several masses.

The public alley that was once an extension of West Couch Place will be converted into a private drive burrowing into the center of the building,  leading to internal loading docks.  Another public alley will be built over completely, and be turned into elevators and office space.

In exchange for erasing the public alleys, the building will have an interior passage running through it, paralleling Randolph Street to the south.  This is presented to the city as “The Mews – Pedestrian Retail Passage,” evoking some of the better enclosed quasi-public spaces in London or Brussels.  However, this sort of thing has been done before in Chicago with varying levels of success.  It could end up being the lively, if retail random, passage between the CTA Red and Blue lines in the basement of Block37.  It could end up the winter garden oasis at 311 South Wacker Drive.  Or it could end up the dreary retail corridor in the Loop Transportation Center (203 North LaSalle).

In exchange for extra height for this building, the developer is going to write a fat check to build a field house at Skinner Park, and another check to help pay for a new public library nearby.

Firehose time!

  • Operating address: 801 West Lake Street
  • Address: 159-185 North Green Street
  • Address: 801-813 West Lake Street
  • Address: 821-825 West Lake Street
  • Address: 162-184 North Halsted Street
  • Developer: Shapack Partners
  • Architecture firm: Gensler
  • Net site area: 57,085 square feet
  • Zoning: C3-1 Commercial, Manufacturing, and Employment District; DX-5 Downtown Mixed Use District → PD1354
  • Floor area ratio: 11.5 (7.0 base + 4.5 bonus)
  • Building height: 275 feet
  • Building length: 265 feet
  • Building width: 252 feet
  • Floors: 18
  • Setbacks at 16th floor (230 feet) and 17th floor (245 feet)
  • Public space lost: 3,768 square feet
  • Minimum automobile parking: 129 spaces
  • Minimum bicycle parking: 30 spaces
  • Minimum loading docks: 2
  • Parking garage access: via West Lake Street

Location: 801 West Lake Street, West Town

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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