South Loop Skyscraper Trying to Build Taller Gets a Warning From City Hall

Chicago’s real estate development community has looked a bit like a Head and Shoulders commercial for the last nine months, scratching its collective noggin about what’s going on at 1400 South Wabash Avenue.

1400 South Wabash Avenue (Base map via Apple Maps)
1400 South Wabash Avenue (Base map via Apple Maps)

Five years ago, the city approved a 296-foot-tall residential skyscraper designed by Lucien LaGrange for this location.  That was never built.  But then, almost a year ago, the property was sold to River North developer CMK.  At the time, the company wouldn’t tell Crain’s Chicago Business, or anyone else, what it planned for the property.  But now, we think we know what’s up.

We suspect that CMK is going ahead with a residential skyscraper at this location.  And we think it’s going to keep the Lagrange design, with a couple of modifications.

December, 2016 diagram of 1400 South Wabash
December, 2016 diagram of 1400 South Wabash

We think this because of a letter sent by the Chicago Department of Planning and Development last week, which indicates that the owners of the property want to start construction A.S.A.P.  The owners have apparently filed for a construction permit for the foundation and the first three floors of the residential building.  Since there hasn’t been a new design approved for this location, we surmise that they’re using the old design, or something close to it.

February 1, 2021 letter about 1400 South Wabash Street from the Department of Planning and Development
February 1, 2021 letter about 1400 South Wabash Street from the Department of Planning and Development

But here’s the catch, and the reason for the unusual letter from City Hall: The owners have filed for permission to make the building bigger, and add more residences.  This, at the same time it’s also waiting for permission to start construction.  That brought a warning from Zoning Administrator Patrick Murphy to the lawyers for the project:

With regard to this situation, the Department of Planning and Development would like to state that we have taken no formal position on the proposed amendment and as such your client is choosing to proceed with permits at their own risk and will be fully responsible for any costs or changes required to such permits associated with any future revisions or changes to the planned development.

Will that hurt this project? Probably not. Real estate sometimes like running over a stranger’s foot in the parking lot at Jewel, in that you can sort out any misunderstanding with enough lawyers and money.  The important takeaway here is that someone is ready to start building a skyscraper at 1400 South Wabash.

Location: 1400 South Wabash Avenue, South Loop

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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