Sterling Bay Not Putting All of Lincoln Yards’ Eggs In One Basket

Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards development is widely seen as one of the frontrunners if Amazon decides to build its second headquarters in Chicago.  But now that northern Virginia is largely considered the leader in the race for HQ2, it’s a good thing the West Town real estate developer has other rabbits to pull out of its hat.

Rendering of a potential Live Nation venue for Lincoln Yards (Courtesy of Sterling Bay)

Rendering of a potential Live Nation venue for Lincoln Yards (Courtesy of Sterling Bay)

One of those bunnies is a new agreement with Live Nation.  The L.A. entertainment octopus is going to build several entertainment venues in Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards project.

The Sterling Bay press release was a little sparse on details, but the Chicago Tribune reports that it could include anything from a 100-seat outdoor performance space to an 8,000-seat theater.

It was previously announced that Lincoln Yards will be the home of a new soccer stadium, with a United Soccer League team co-owned by Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts.

Sterling Bay is working hard to ensure a mix of development at Lincoln Yards.  River North’s renaissance largely stagnated when it became too residential.  That was remedied by the opening of office opportunities, including the redevelopment of a portion of the old Montgomery Ward complex into a tech hub.  The Loop had the opposite problem — it was too office, and until large scale residential came in with Lakeshore East and the various college dorms, was mostly crickets after 6pm.  An article we published 15 years ago illustrated how fearless wildlife made The Loop their playground after dark.

Now both neighborhoods, and others across Chicagoland, are finding the right mix of residential, retail, and business to make each a thriving ecosystem.  It’s like macroeconomic Sim City.

Rendering of a potential Live Nation venue for Lincoln Yards (Courtesy of Sterling Bay)
Rendering of a potential Live Nation venue for Lincoln Yards (Courtesy of Sterling Bay)
Rendering of a potential Live Nation venue for Lincoln Yards (Courtesy of Sterling Bay)
Rendering of a potential Live Nation venue for Lincoln Yards (Courtesy of Sterling Bay)

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2018/05/21/sterling-bay-not-putting-all-of-lincoln-yards-eggs-in-one-basket/

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O? Yes! Chicago Plan Commission Approves Obama Presidential Center

It’s not unusual for there to be some pretty rancorous behavior when a new real estate development is presented to the public.  Chicago NIMBY groups are practiced partisans.  But it’s been many years since we’ve seen a scene like the one at City Hall today.  The spark for this fire was the Obama Presidential Center.

Obama Presidential Center model (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

Obama Presidential Center model (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

Inside 121 North LaSalle’s hallowed chambers the Chicago Plan Commission unanimously approved something of a real estate shell game that transfers a large chunk of historic Jackson Park from the Chicago Park District to the City of Chicago, and then onward to a D.C. corporation, The Barack Obama Foundation, on a long-term lease for an undisclosed sum of money.

According to the Chicago Tribune, protesters for and against started gathering outside City Hall at 5am.

Outside the chambers, organized community members shouted and protested against the idea that the famed community organizer’s namesake non-profit should build its trophy campus on 19 acres of public land.

Some worry about gentrification.  Others, rising taxes.  And still others demanded written promises that the Obama Center will benefit the neighborhood, after years of hollow promises from local politicians.  Specifically, they want a freeze on nearby property taxes, and low-income housing guarantees.

The Obama foundation has stated that the Center is expected to bring billions in revenue to the south side.  A figure that even some aldermen want spelled out.  At the meeting, a Foundation spokesman promised that construction companies would be selected based on race, and that career training centers would be founded to help local people get better jobs.

Two weeks ago, the Obama Foundation released a document outlining what it plans to do for the south side.  Highlights include:

  • We will serve as an economic engine for the South Side, attracting private investment, strengthening the local economic climate, and creating shared prosperity to help our neighbors build wealth.
  • We will be a resource to the communities surrounding the OPC, providing accessible space to gather, educate, socialize and entertain.
  • We will support policies and tools that incentivize the development of a strong small business corridor around the OPC and beyond

The Center’s construction management team is called Lakeside Alliance.  It has its own section of pledges in the document, which includes:

  • A minimum of fifty percent of our subcontracts for the estimated $300-350 million construction project will go to diverse firms.
  • Lakeside Alliance will host Career & Training Opportunity Fairs across City College campuses, beginning at Olive Harvey on the South Side.

You can read the full document here.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel wasn’t at the meeting, but issued a statement that reads, in part:

The Obama Presidential Center will not just create jobs, but create future leaders, and be an incredible economic, educational and cultural benefit to our great city. We are looking forward to next week’s City Council vote and the future of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.

The next step is Chicago’s zoning board, which is expected to approve the project next week.  Shortly after, the entire city council will give it a rubber stamp.  Though the outcomes of those two votes are widely considered in the bag, expect protests for those, as well.

The next real challenges are on the federal level.  Federal agencies still have to sign off on the plan, and a federal lawsuit has been filed against it.  The outcomes of those steps is somewhat less certain.

 

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2018/05/17/o-yes-chicago-plan-commission-approves-obama-presidential-center/

Chicago’s Last Sears Store to Be Reborn

Recycling is all the rage these days.  So when Sears threw two of its Chicago stores in the big blue bin, Tucker Development and Seritage Growth Properties yelled, “Dibs!”

The pair is going all Baywatch on the two former department stores, breathing new life into them by turning them into “mixed-use developments with retail and residential components.”

The first one is at 1601 North Harlem Avenue (North and Harlem) in the North Austin neighborhood.  The other is at 4730 West Irving Park Road (Cicero and Irving Park) in the Old Irving Park neighborhood.

The North and Harlem store closed about eight months ago.  The Cicero and Irving Park location will close this coming July.  It was built in 1938 and is the last Sears in the city where the legendary store started 132 years ago.

Seritage is the real estate arm that Sears spun off in 2015. And it can have my Christmas 1978 Wish Book when it pries the dog-eared tome from my cold, dead hands.

Rendering of the renovated North and Harlem Sears Store (Courtesy of Tucker Development)

Rendering of the renovated North and Harlem Sears Store (Courtesy of Tucker Development)

There’s not a lot of information available yet, like how many residences there will be, if they’ll be apartments or condos, or when the renovation is expected to start and finish.  But the rendering above of the resurrected North and Harlem location looks pretty sweet.  The real test will be to see how the art deco monster on Irving Park Road is treated.  When it opened, it was among the largest department stores in the Midwest.

The North and Harlem reno also includes redoing the Sears Auto Center a few dozen feet away, which is actually in Elmwood Park. And since this was once a department store, you can bet there will be plenty of parking available.

While it may seem strange to some for a department store chain to evolve into a real estate developer, it’s not unheard of.  A number of department stores own the land on which they sit, and use it as a financial instrument.  Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue for two.  And what we know today as the massive New York REIT called Vornado, started as Two Guys, a low-end department store chain where my mom bought me uncomfortable polyester dress slacks for school when I was six. Scary biscuits.

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2018/05/17/chicagos-last-sears-store-to-be-reborn/

Obama Presidential Center on Today’s Agenda

The Obama Presidential Center has caught what the British call “the American disease.”  That means a lawsuit.

The proposal to slurp up a chunk of Jackson Park and close some neighboring streets has neighbors so upset, they’re going to ask a judge to stop it.

Obama Presidential Center model (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

Obama Presidential Center model (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

If you’ve been following this saga, you know that the Obama Foundation ruffled feathers when it decided that instead of using the abundant vacant private land on the south side of Chicago for its monumental campus, it would plonk down in the middle of a historic public park.

Things got worse when it decided to glom on to a city block’s worth of an adjacent park to keep the stinky tour buses away.

The former president personally appealed to locals to let him have their greenspace, but it didn’t fly.  Now the mess is going to federal court.

In addition to the land grab, the umbrella group Protect our Parks is sore that the seven-building campus won’t be a true presidential library, like everyone expected.  Instead, it’s going to be… well, it’s hard to know what to call it officially.  The Obama Foundation uses a lot of aspirational phrases like “a campus for active citizenship” and “an ongoing project where we will shape, together, what it means to be a good citizen in the 21st century.”  But even its own web site admits the project remains, “a work in progress.”

In order for Mr. Obama’s ziggurat to be an official presidential library, it has to house the presidential archives.  And those are the property of the National Archives, along with the obamalibrary.gov web site.

(For a bit of trivia — Bill Clinton had the first presidential web site, launched in 1994.  Click here to see an archived version.  For a bit of a laugh, it’s interesting to know that the Dole/Kemp ’96 web site is still available!)

The Obama Center is on the agenda for this morning’s Chicago Plan Commission meeting.  So if you missed this weekend’s fireworks at Navy Pier, there will be plenty of pyrotechnics on the second floor of City Hall at 10:00am.

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2018/05/17/you-knew-it-was-coming-obama-presidential-center-sued/

Related Midwest Drives an 1,100-Foot-Tall Nail Into The Chicago Spire’s Coffin

If you’ve spent the last eight years waiting for someone to drive the final nail into The Chicago Spire’s coffin, Related Midwest is your carpenter.

Tonight the River North real estate developer pulled the cloak off of a duo of towers it plans to erect at the site of Chicago’s most magnificent hole — 400 Lake Shore Drive.

400 Lake Shore Drive (Courtesy of Related Midwest)

400 Lake Shore Drive (Courtesy of Related Midwest)

400 is an SOM design crafted by David Childs, known mostly for his work on such New York landmarks as One World Trade Center and the Time Warner Center.  The 1,100-foot-tall lead tower faces southeast to northwest, with an array of setbacks giving a chamfered effect that Related describes as a “waterfall.”  The smaller tower performs the same trick across its 850 feet, but with a northeast-southwest orientation.

While the Chicago (née Fordham) Spire that this replaces was intended to be the tallest building in the hemisphere, this one has somewhat less lofty ambitions.  If built as planned, and assuming the Vista Tower is finished, 400 Lake Shore Drive would be the fifth-tallest skyscraper in Chicago.  Sixth if the proposed Tribune Tower East goes up.

Inside, the taller 400 building will have a 175 room hotel on the bottom, and 300 condominiums on top.  The smaller tower is all residential, with 550 apartments.

This is the second time that Related Midwest has brought a New York architect in to build a huge residential project on the lakefront.  Its One Bennett Park recently topped out one block to the north.  That tower was designed by Robert A.M. Stern, and at 836 feet will be just shorter than the smaller of the two 400 LSD towers.  Both towers use setbacks in a very New York way that is unusual in the Windy City.  The result is forced perspective that increases the apparent height and drama, while simultaneously pumping up rents. A full 20% of the homes at 400 LSD will have great big cha-ching terraces.

400 Lake Shore Drive (Courtesy of Related Midwest)

400 Lake Shore Drive (Courtesy of Related Midwest)

Fortunately, the New York vibe is tempered through the use of terra cotta and bay windows that pay homage to the Chicago window. The porte cochère, though?  Straight outta Logan’s Run.

This is also the second time that Related Midwest has finished someone else’s lunch in Chicago.  Its first big splash in local building circles was resurrecting the quarter-built 92-story Waterview Tower project at 111 East Wacker Drive and turning it into OneEleven, a 54-story luxury residential building.

The renderings released by Related don’t show it, but it’s important to remember that just a few hundred feet away, Magellan Development is planning to build a massive tower at the northeast corner of Laskeshore East.  Though its original 875-foot-tall plan was bounced by 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly, Magellan and its partner, Lendlease, will be back.  The potential is for Lakeshore East and 400 LSD to form a modern day Pillars of Hercules for the Chicago River.

400 Lake Shore Drive (Courtesy of Related Midwest)

400 Lake Shore Drive (Courtesy of Related Midwest)

Naturally, 400 Lake Shore Drive still has to navigate the City Hall and neighborhood group minefield before it can be built.  But considering that everyone signed off on a 2,000-foot-tall tower for this very spot not that long ago, there’s really no reason to complain about its height.  And Related is committed to adhering to a city ordinance that requires whatever company finally builds at 400 to also build the long-awaited DuSable Park on the other side of the Drive.  The price tag for that is estimated at $10 million.

400 LSD is not only half as tall as the previously approved project for this space, it’s also half the bulk.  An F.A.R. of 14.1, compared with 25 for the Chicago Spire.  Forty-four percent less floor space.  And 1,025 residential and hotel units compared with 1,200 for the Spire.

Now that we know the project’s height, what about its depths?  What will become of the 76-foot-deep light socket on the lakefront?  Word from the Chicago Tribune is that some of it will be incorporated into this project, and some of it will also be at least partly filled in.  So you bought that urban scuba diving franchise for nothing.

400 Lake Shore Drive (Courtesy of Related Midwest)

400 Lake Shore Drive (Courtesy of Related Midwest)


Editor’s note: Related Midwest is an advertiser.  No money changed hands for this article.  They pay for ads, just like everyone else. Why don’t you?

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2018/05/15/related-midwest-drives-an-1100-foot-tall-nail-into-the-chicago-spires-coffin/

Aon Center is the Latest Skyscraper That Wants to Take You For a Ride

If you want to “hang” at the Aon Center, 601W Companies is cool with that.  As long as you do it in its proposed 22-person glass pod hanging off the roof.  The New York real estate company has unveiled its $185 million proposal for turning a portion of Chicago’s third-tallest building into a tourist attraction.

Aon Center rendering (Courtesy of 601W Companies)

Aon Center rendering (Courtesy of 601W Companies)

We’ve known since 601W bought the stoic skyscraper in 2015 for $173 million that it thought there was a market for an observation deck at this location on the edge of Millennium Park.  Later, the company whetted everyone’s appetite for such an endeavor when it allowed the public to gawk at the city from a vacant floor near the top of the building during Open House Chicago.

Now 601W has let the public in on its plan to run what might be the world’s tallest glass elevator up the northwest corner of the building, kit out a double-decker observation deck, and put a thrill ride on the roof called the Sky Summit.

Aon Center rendering (Courtesy of 601W Companies)

Aon Center rendering (Courtesy of 601W Companies)

The sky pod will be a horizontal glass tube that cranes gently over the Aon Center’s public plaza 1,180-something feet below.  Think of it as a civilized version of the crazy carnival rides that swing people off the edge of the roof of the Stratosphere, 900 feet over the Las Vegas Strip.

The exterior elevator is necessary because of the way the Aon Center’s lobby, security, and central elevator bank are configured.  There’s just no sane way to keep the fanny packs separated from the briefcases.  So now the plan is for tourists to enter a pavilion on the northwest corner of Randolph and Columbus, then go underground beneath the skyscraper to enter the elevator on the opposite corner of the block.

Aon Center rendering (Courtesy of 601W Companies)

Aon Center rendering (Courtesy of 601W Companies)

Building a new welcome center for an estimated two million annual visitors means that little United Nations flag plaza is going bye bye.  Also disappearing is the fascinating and creepy acoustic sculpture by Harry Bertoia.  It’s an ode to the Illinois prairie, made of metal, that creates unearthly sounds when the rods bend in the wind.  Hopefully it will be relocated to an equally windy and public location.

Aon Center rendering (Courtesy of 601W Companies)

Aon Center rendering (Courtesy of 601W Companies)
Aon Center rendering (Courtesy of 601W Companies)
Aon Center rendering (Courtesy of 601W Companies)

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2018/05/15/aon-center-is-the-latest-skyscraper-that-wants-to-take-you-for-a-ride/

Aon Center’s Glass Elevator-to-the-Sky to be Unveiled Tonight

Glass as an amusement is a big thing these days.  It seems to have started with that glass bridge over the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai reservation in Arizona.

Aon Center from the ground up.

Now we have a glass slide at the top of the U.S. Bank Building in Los Angeles.  The glass “ledges” at the top of the Willis Tower. The glass “tilt” mechanism at the top of 875 North Michigan.  And now the Aon Center is getting in on the transparent action.

Aon Center - Chicago, Illinois - July, 2005 - 004

Aon Center (Courtesy of Artefaqs architecture stock photography)

At a public meeting tonight, 601W Companies, the building’s owner, will show off what it wants to strap to the northwest corner of the tower: an 83-story glass elevator to carry people to the skyscraper’s upcoming observation deck.

The new observatory should offer some very impressive views.  But getting tourists there is problematic because of the office building’s security and elevator setup.  So, some smart person had the idea of isolating the map clutchers from the briefcase bearers by putting the entrance to the new attraction on the exterior of the building.  Streeterville’s SCB is designing the thing, and for once, the canard “thinking outside the box” actually applies.

If you want to give your input on the project, show up at the Aon Center (200 East Randolph Street) at 6:30pm tonight.  The meeting is in the Mid-Ameirca Club on the 80th floor, which is reason enough to go.

I’ve been in a number of glass elevators from Houston to Vancouver to Tokyo.  None are this big.  It’s a perfect opportunity to install a bar in the observation deck because a stiff drink is in order after riding in one.

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2018/05/14/aon-centers-glass-elevator-to-the-sky-to-be-unveiled-tonight/