A city-enforced clock is ticking on a new residential tower planned for a vacant plot of land just off of Michigan Avenue. Thirteen years ago we reported that 210 North Stetson was going to be a 74-story SCB-designed Mandarin Oriental Hotel. That idea was scotched when the economy ate itself.
In 2017 a couple of our City Hall sources whispered to us that a developer was sniffing around this property for use as a residential building. That plan was supposed to have about 30 stories with 375 apartments.
Two years later, things are getting serious. And seriously larger.
According to city documents, developer CA Residential wants to put up an apartment building with 639 new homes. The 46-story skyscraper has a different design, but the same designer: SCB.
It may come as a surprise to neighbors and skyscraper nerds that the Department of Planning and Development has already approved this 522-foot-tall building for construction. How did it fly under the radar? It’s a little involved, so here’s the skinny in list form:
- This chunk of Loop is already zoned for a big, honkin’ office building. (By way of conversion, one standard honk is about 900,000 square feet)
- There is a footnote in the previously approved zoning documents that allows anyone who develops this space to convert the property from office to residential at a rate of 1 residential unit per 1,000 square feet of office space.
- In August, the developers of this building asked the city if they can convert 639,000 square feet of already approved — but unbuilt — office building into 639 residential units. The city said sure, go nuts.
The result is a 522-foot-tall building of 600,732 square feet with the previously mentioned 639 residential units, 18,250 square feet of retail space on the lower levels, and Pedway connections to the east and west. There will also be parking for 160 bicycles, and the developer promises to deck over the gaping hole in the city’s urban fabric next to Middle East South Water Street.
That seems clear enough. But as with most downtown Chicago skyscrapers, there are… complications.
First, the developers have to deal with an easement. Apparently the Chicago Transit Authority has dibs on a portion of this property if it wants to build a “transit subway” through the space. But this is Chicago government, so it’s nothing that can’t be solved by writing a big enough check to compensate the city for vacating the easement or giving the developers a Grant of Privilege for the space where the unbuilt subway won’t go.
And second, you may have noticed that while we did mention bicycle parking above, we didn’t mention automobile parking. That takes us back to August again, when the developers also asked to cut the number of required parking spaces for this property from 478 spaces to 271 spaces. The 478 number was codified before Chicago had its Transit Oriented Development ordinance, so the new developers think that with the CTA’s 2, 4, 6, 20, 60, 124, 134, 135, 136, 146, 147, 148, 151, and 157 bus routes one block away; and Millennium Station, the Brown, Pink, Purple, Orange, Green, and Red lines two blocks away that this may be a pretty transit-rich location, and thus all those parking spaces aren’t needed. Even we can’t argue with that, and neither did the city when it approved the reduction in parking on August 20th.
But there’s a catch. Whenever a developer asks for special permission like this, it is required to start substantial construction within 12 months, or all of the special permissions go out the window. That’s why we think that construction has to be coming soon, because if dirt isn’t moving in the next seven months or so, it’s back to square one.
The figures below were correct as of April 2019, and may have changed. But since there are no other statistics available, we present them to help give this project context.
- Address: 210 North Stetson Avenue
- Site area: 14,130 square feet
- Maximum height: 522 feet
- Roof height: 459 feet
- Height of highest occupied floor (45): 464 feet
- Floors: 46
- Residences: 639 (166 efficiencies)
- Maximum building size permitted by existing zoning: 900,671 square feet.
- Actual size of the proposed building: 600,372 square feet
- Maximum Floor Area Ratio permitted by existing zoning: 20.32
- Actual Floor Area Ratio for this building: 13.62
- Average residence size: 719 square feet
- Amenity space: 25,530 square feet indoors, 8,120 square feet outdoors
- Retail space: 18,249 square feet
- Minor setback at 2nd floor amenity deck on second floor, 20 feet above street level
- Setback at 36th floor amenity deck 362 feet above street level
- 36th floor amenity space has an outdoor pool
- Automobile parking spaces: 271
- Bicycle parking spaces: 160
- Loading docks: Four, accessed from Middle North Stetson Avenue.
- Parking garage access is via Lower East Lake Street, and Middle North Stetson Avenue.
- This project will have to relocate a large pipe that feeds Chicago River water into downtown buildings.