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West Loop high-rise plan denied
West Loop residents are resisting the development of a high-rise apartment building because of concerns about saturating the condo market and overcrowding on
Antunovich Associates, the architectural firm that developed the University Center, 525 S. State St., proposed a plan to construct a 20-story apartment building in an empty lot at the corner of Green and Madison streets in the West Loop neighborhood at a Feb. 26 community meeting. Taxman Corporation owns the lot and the project, but Antunovich Associates is designing the building and negotiating its construction, according to Joe Antunovich, president of the firm.
The original proposal was to build a hotel of the same height as the apartment building in the lot, which the community accepted because a hotel would attract visitors and create jobs, according to Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. (27th Ward).
“[Neighborhood residents] said they want it as a hotel, not as a residential [building],” Burnett said. “I think they’re more concerned about competition in the rental area.”
Residents expressed concerns about the building’s height, reduced parking availability and decrease in surrounding property values during the meeting, according to highlights from the West Loop Community Organization’s meeting summary.
According to an Aug. 2, 2011 analysis from Chicago rental website Domu.com, the West Loop was the second most expensive neighborhood for a one-bedroom apartment after River North and the third most expensive for a two-bedroom, trailing River North and the Gold Coast.
Danny Shapiro, owner of Third Rail Tavern, 1133 W. Madison St., who has owned a building down the street from the proposed construction site for nine years and the restaurant for seven, said he had mixed feelings about the construction.
“As far as the rental market and the condo market, I think [the building] brings good and bad,” Shapiro said. “The neighborhood can be saturated with too many units, and it brings down the value of each unit, so that’s not necessarily the best for the people who
Antunovich said the city originally approved the project two years ago as part of development that included Mariano’s Fresh Market, 40 S. Halsted St. However, after failing to find a hotel operator to oversee the building, the company decided to propose an apartment building instead, Antunovich said. The residents opposed the construction mostly because of the building height, but the firm cannot lower it any more because of the small square footage of the ground space, or footprint.
“We came back to the community as we said we would if we could not find a hotel operator,” Antunovich said. “The neighbors have this quasi-height limit west of Halsted. Economically, [lowering the building height] won’t really work since the footprint is so small. We can’t take the building down any more.”
The West Loop Community Organization declined to comment on the development negotiations.
According to 2010 U.S. Census data, 80.7 percent of West Loop residents moved into their current apartment after 2005. As of 2010, the median monthly rent was $1,464 and the median household income was $86,894. This is nearly double the city’s average annual household income of $47,371, and median rent of $916. Shapiro said he thought a lot of people moved to the area because of the ease of commuting and value of the neighborhood relative to the cost of living.
“Over the last 10 years, [the neighborhood] has grown significantly,” Shapiro said. “It’s slowed down a little bit over the last couple of years because of the economy. It’s a great neighborhood—there are a lot of young professionals in
Shapiro said the development of separate established neighborhoods is relatively new, and Bucktown, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, West Town, the South Loop and the West Loop are examples of trending neighborhoods that have improved in the last 10 years.He said the neighborhood has seen a significant influx of young families and other professionals because it is close to downtown, less expensive than other parts of the city, like River North and the Loop, and relatively safe. Because of the height restriction on buildings, the area has retained a neighborhood feel, and the small businesses that have moved in contribute to the atmosphere of the area.
“Something that’s nice about the West Loop is that it’s not just a bunch of 30- or 40-story buildings, and it helps to keep that small feel to it,” Shapiro said. “So if [the Loop] expanding out means building high-rises, it would change the feel of the neighborhood.”