It’s not every day that a building document gets filed with the Chicago City Clerk that reads, “Maximum Number of Dwelling Units: 10,000.” But then, The 78 by Related Midwest isn’t an everyday development.
The city filing is standard procedure for many building projects in Chicago. Everything from a basement renovation to the massive 400 Lake Shore Drive proposal have to go through this sort of thing. Including financial disclosures, The 78’s initial paperwork is 297 pages. That’s just short of 15 pounds if you print it out. Closer to 20 if you use the good paper.
Naturally, part of the reason that what is a mere fist full of sheets for some ended up an entire tome for The 78 is because this is a big project. And big projects need details, details, details! Check out how detailed the description is for its boundaries alone:
West Roosevelt Road; South Clark Street; a line beginning at a point 116 feet north of vacated West 16″‘ Street as measured along the west line of South Clark Street that is westerly 135.20 feet along the arc of a circle having a radius of 375.00 feet concave northerly and whose chord bears north 79 degrees 49 minutes 52 seconds west a distance of 135.20 feet; a line north 69 degrees 46 minutes 04 seconds west a distance of 101.85 feet; a line north 69 degrees 49 minutes 57 seconds west a distance of 26.00 feet; a line along the arc of a circle having a radius of 407.80 feet concave southerly and whose chord bears north 75 degrees 52 minutes 04 seconds west a distance of 85.51 feet a distance of westerly 85.67 feet; a line north 83 degrees 47 minutes 05 seconds west a distance of 164.45 feet; a line north 69 degrees 43 minutes 24 seconds west a distance of 25.16 feet; a line north 43 degrees 07 minutes 24 seconds west a distance of 31.91 feet to a point on the easterly dock line of the former South Branch of the Chicago River; a line south 46 degrees 47 minutes 47 seconds west along the easterly dock line of the former South Branch of the Chicago River a distance of 73.33 feet; a line south 89 degrees 54 minutes 55 seconds west a distance of 32.69 feet; a line south 49 degrees 36 minutes 35 seconds a distance of 46.38 feet; a line north 89 degrees 54 minutes 55 seconds east a distance of 296.25 feet; a line easterly along the arc of a circle having a radius of 375.00 feet concave southerly and whose chord bears south 78 degrees 32 minutes 39 seconds east a distance of 109.97 feet for a distance of 110.36 feet; a line south 69 degrees 46 minutes 04 seconds east a distance o f 136.90 feet; a line easterly along the arc of a circle having a radius of 391.00 feet concave northerly and whose chord bears south 79 degrees 33 minutes 50 seconds east a distance of 135.64 feet for a distance of 136.33 feet; South Clark Street; vacated West 16″‘ Street; a line 155.40 feet west of and parallel to South Clark Street; the north line of vacated West 16″” Street; and the South Branch of the Chicago River
Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? It combines 24 different parcels.
A big part of the exercise in Olympic-caliber geometry involves streets. Related plans to build 286,000 square feet of new public streets. At the same time it intends to remove 217,000 square feet of streets. Sure, you can’t see them, but there are public streets in The 78 right now. “Undeveloped rights of way” is the technical term.
Related will have to pay the City of Chicago for eating those rights-of-way. But it will also get credit for the new streets its building. How all that balances out is up to CDOT.
The unbuilt streets to be removed include portions of:
- South Lumber Street
- West 13th Street/Maxwell Street
- South Stephenson Street
- West 14th Street
New streets a-comin’:
- South Wells Street connecting Wells in The Loop with South Wentworth Avenue in Chinatown
- West 15th Street, connecting the new Wells Street with South Clark Street
- South LaSalle Street connecting West Lower Roosevelt Road with 15th Street.
That last one, South LaSalle Street, is an interesting bird because of Related’s plan for dealing with the noise and fumes of the Metra trains going to and from the LaSalle Street Station. Instead of putting up a big sound barrier to isolate The 78 from the cacophony and the rest of the city, it’s going to actually build a new Metra rail line a little to the west, through the eastern half of the project. On each side of that rail corridor will be buildings to hide the line and baffle the sound.
In the most Whatcha-Talkin’-Bout’-Willis moment of the year, the new LaSalle Street, will be plopped right on top of the Metra line for a portion of its run. The new LaSalle Street will actually be the cap that keeps the noise and diesel fumes under control. Alas, this will be a private street. But with up to 10,000 new homes in The 78, it shouldn’t be hard to make a friend or two there to show you around.
The 78’s proposed new zoning allows pretty much anything to happen there that you would expect in an upscale planned community. Apartments, condos, and restaurants? Yes. Auto scrap yard? Uh… no. Watercraft rentals, urban farms, and bars? Sure. Day labor agencies? Nope. Post office, fire station, police station? You bet. Schools? Churches? Hospitals? Yep, yep, and yep.
As has been noted in the past, in spite of the pretty darned impressive renderings we’ve seen of The 78, it’s still early days on a project that’s expected to take a couple of decades to finish. There’s no point in Related locking itself into a food hall when that could go out of fashion tomorrow, in favor of an energy co-generation station (both of which are allowed).
Related isn’t going too far outside the plot’s existing zoning, but enough to have to write a check. The area The 78 will occupy is zoned with a floor area ratio of 5.0. The Related squad needs another 0.6 to achieve its goals, and will get that bonus by sending money to the city’s Neighborhoods Opportunity Fund, the Adopt-a-Landmark Fund, and the Local Impact Fund.
What remains to be seen is how Related is going to handle the tangle of railroad tracks at the south end of this project. Though there are far fewer tracks there today than there were 30 years ago, what’s left is still active and owned by railroad companies, not Related Midwest. In fact, there are plans to upgrade this corridor to support regional high-speed rail, and a rail connection between Union Station and McCormick Place.
This is also the location where the CTA’s Red Line tracks disappear beneath the city, and The 78’s marketing materials mention a new Red Line station. If that new Red Line station was a multi-modal station, it could link the CTA’s bus network, CTA’s Red Line, Metra’s Rock Island District line, Amtrak trains, and the future regional high-speed network.
In addition to transit access, the riverwalk is a big selling point for The 78. And, perhaps acknowledging the arrogance of other developments, the city will not allow gates around the riverwalk. In addition, signs must be posted to let the public know that The 78 riverwalk is open to the public during Chicago Park District hours.
Although the skyscrapers get the most attention, open space plays a big role at The 78. Related plans to up the city’s required 30-foot Chicago River setback to a full… wait for it… 75 feet. Three more feet and it would have been a point of trivia for boat tour guides.
It’s also going to build a connector from the riverwalk to Ping Tom Park in Chinatown.
The centerpiece of the project is Crescent Park which will follow the former curve of the Chicago River before it was straightened out. Crescent Park will also hide one of the project’s massive parking garages. You didn’t really think 10,000 people were going to try to park on the street did you? This isn’t Wrigleyville.
- Riverfont park: 183,000 square feet
- Ping Tom Park connector: 15,800 square feet
- Crescent Park: 266,100 square feet
- 15th Street open space: 11,300 square feet – This is a kind of a hill from Clark Street leading up to a plaza covering the Metra tracks.
There’s also a provision that the riverwalk landscaping has to be complete within two years of construction permits being issued. That is, unless there is a “war, riot, insurrection, rebellion… earthquake… or act of God.” So if you’re planning to become the next Bond villain, maybe hold off on overthrowing the government until the riverwalk gets built. Thanks.
- South Wells Street connector: Two lanes in each direction, plus a bus lane in each direction, plus an tree-separated bike lane in each direction.
- West 15th Street: Two lanes in each direction, plus a single bike path separated from the sidewalk and roadway. 15th Street will go under the new Metra tracks before it intersects with Clark Street.
- River wall: To keep the Chicago River from seizing an opportunity here. Naughty river.
- New Metra tracks: Because it’s hard to stop a train. (See what I did there?)
- A 16-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle path along the riverwalk.
- A 25-foot-wide café zone paralleling the walking/bicycle path
- Address: 101-213 West Roosevelt Road
- Address: 1200-1558 South Clark Street
- Working address: 241 West Roosevelt Road
- Developer: Roosevelt/Clark Partners, LLC
- For realsies: Related Midwest
- Architecture firm: SOM
- Zoning: DS-3 → DX-5 → Waterway Residential-Business Planned Development
- Net size: 2,304,968 square feet
- Floor area ratio: 5.6 (5.0 base + 0.6 bonus)
- Minimum setback from the Chicago River: 30 feet
- Maximum number of residences: 10,000 (not a typo)
- Number of affordable housing units: Unknown yet. Depends on how the project shapes up.
- Maximim number of residential auto parking spaces: 3,020
- Maximum number of visitor parking spaces: 893
- Maximum number of residential bicycle parking spaces: 1,956
- Maximum number of visitor bicycle parking spaces: None, ya deadbeat! Unless you’re on a Divvy.
- Locking docks: Yeah, a bunch. But it’s still being worked out.