With battle lines forming over a planned three-tower development at the historic but underutilized Wolf Point site along the Chicago River, Ald. Brendan Reilly announced Tuesday that he has told the project's developers to present their plans at a May 29 community meeting.
Those plans--prepared by New Haven, Conn. architect Cesar Pelli for the owners of the site, the Kennedy family, and their developer, Hines--call for a 525-foot-tall residential tower and two mixed-use high-rises, according to Reilly. One would be 900 feet tall, the other 750 feet tall.
A group that calls itself Friends of Wolf Point already has met with the alderman and expressed fear that the project will lead to a dramatic increase in traffic congestion. The high-rises are also likely to block views of the RiverBend condo tower at 333 N. Canal St.
With the heat growing and the urban design stakes high--the Wolf Point site occupies a prominent spot, west of the Merchandise Mart, at the junction of the Chicago River's north and south branches--the 42nd Ward alderman has decided to quick-start public meetings on the project.
"Given the prominence of this property and the number of inquiries my office has received about the future development of this site, I have directed Hines Development Corporation and their team to start our community review process early, even before they take the initial step of filing a formal application with the City of Chicago," Reilly wrote in the email.
The May 29 meeting is to be held in the Wolf Point Ballroom of the Holiday Inn, 350 W. Mart Center Dr. The event is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.
In the 1830s, Wolf Point was a focal point of pioneer Chicago, home to taverns, trading posts and a hotel. Currently, however, the site consists of a surface parking lot with a narrow riverwalk.
"Everyone was anticipating that that would be the center of the city," said Tim Samuelson, Chicago's cultural historian. But "it turned out that not much happened on that site when you consider its prominence."
Reilly's email offered new details about plans for the four-acre site at 350 N. Orleans St.:
--The 525-foot-tall residential tower, to be located on the site's western portion, would contain 510 units and 200 parking spaces.
--The 900-foot-tall mixed-use tower, which would rise on the southern part of the site, would contain 600 units and 885 parking spaces. Reilly's email did not specify whether the units would be residential.
--The 750-foot-tall mixed-use tower, planned for the eastern side of the site, would contain 200 parking spots. A number of units was not specified.
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun