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Plan Commission approves more than 1,400 new apartments


The Chicago Plan Commission on Thursday approved the construction of three new apartment complexes for the West Loop and Near Northwest Side, totaling up to 1,469 units, including 294 affordable units. All still need approvals from the full City Council.

Developers Weldon Development Group and Mark Goodman & Associates won approval for the largest project, a two-tower complex with up to 794 units that will reshape a corner of Fulton Market, a former meatpacking, warehouse and industrial district.

The developers originally wanted to create a 16-story life sciences tower on the site at 400 N. Elizabeth St. But after rising interest rates and a falloff in venture capital funding for start-ups dampened the industry’s outlook, an apartment plan took shape instead.

The $300 million proposal drew some criticism. Several of its future neighbors, including Michelle Strassburger, told commission members that the developers had not done enough community outreach, or fully considered the impact such a large development would have on the neighborhood.

But John Bosca of the community organization Neighbors of River West said his group supported the proposal.

“Any time there is dramatic change, there is going to be those that have a difficult time with it,” he said.

Ald. Walter Burnett, 27th, told commission members that the developers held at least eight community meetings, and that a new complex on this scale would boost the local economy and bring badly needed green space.

“This will bring some life to the area,” he said, perhaps sparking the creation of new restaurants or retail. “This will bring the density we need to get beautiful amenities. Unfortunately, we can’t satisfy everybody all the time.”

The complex, sandwiched between the Metra and Union Pacific train tracks, will include a public dog park and lawn, along with 145 affordable apartments, winning praise from several commission members.

“I hear the neighbors’ concerns, but I think this is an amazing opportunity for many families to live in a beautiful community,” said member Guacolda Reyes.

First Ward Ald. and commission member Daniel La Spata said he was impressed the affordable units will include nearly 100 two-bedroom apartments for families, instead of mostly studios and one-bedrooms, favored by many developers because they cost less.

“This is affordable housing done right,” La Spata said. “We know there is a need for deeply affordable family units.”

Two less-controversial proposals from developer Sterling Bay were also approved. The company got a green light for its plan to build a 29-story, 390-unit apartment tower at 370 N. Carpenter St. in Fulton Market, next to Trammell Crow Co.’s new life sciences building at 400 N. Aberdeen St. It will include 78 affordable apartments.

Also approved was a proposal for a 24-story, 355-unit apartment building at 2033 N. Kingsbury St., including up to 71 affordable units. That building will be just east of Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards development, a $6 billion plan that could include skyscrapers up to 595 feet tall. The developer is still hunting for investors to fund that project, first approved in 2019.

Commission members delayed at least until June a vote on whether to approve demolishing several century-old Southwest Side warehouses considered significant by historic preservationists. Developer IDI Logistics bought the buildings in the 4100 block of West Ogden Avenue in North Lawndale, including several by noted architect Alfred Alschuler, and wants to replace them with a single, $44 million modern distribution facility.

“We feel this proposal is an erasure of that history,” said Noah Jones, a Brighton Park resident and great-great grandson of the original owner. “It would carve up this neighborhood with a soulless warehouse.”

The buildings sit within the district of 24th Ward Ald. Michael Rodriguez, who Wednesday sent a letter to Chicago Plan Commission Chair Laura Flores, stating he opposes the project because community members do not want to see a facility for transportation, distribution or logistics on the site.

“Since IDI has not been able to come to an agreement for any community benefits, nor has IDI listened to the North Lawndale Economic Advisory Committee in developing their plan for the site, I must state my opposition to this planned development and urge the commission to reject this proposal,” he wrote.

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