The Real Deal Chicago

Lendlease, Magellan scale back plans for sprawling resi complex in Lakeshore East

The developers now want to build 1.7K units and dropped plans for a hotel, following community opposition to initial proposal
By Joe Ward | August 30, 2018 08:01AM

From left: Magellan co-CEOs Joel Carlins and James Loewenberg, Lendlease’s Thomas Weeks, and a rendering of Lakeshore East (Credit: LinkedIn and Taylor Johnson Public Relations via Flickr)

There will be no hotel. There will be more green space. Instead of four towers, developers want to build three. And the plan for 2,000 residential units has been slashed to 1,700.

Lendlease Development and Magellan Development Group on Wednesday unveiled a revamped proposal for their massive residential and retail complex in Lakeshore East, significantly scaling back an initial plan that received community opposition. Still, if passed, the complex will bring three soaring apartment buildings to the neighborhood, one reaching as high as 80 stories.

The new proposal from Australia-bassed Lendlease and Chicago-based Magellan calls for 1,700 residential units spread across three towers, eliminating one of the proposed buildings. Gone are plans for the 926-key hotel. Developers have also added green space, with more usable fields and safer passageways.

The team’s overhauled proposal came one year after its first presentation in July 2017 to redevelop that location next to Lake Shore Drive, south of the Chicago River. Nearby residents worried the massive complex was out of scale with the neighborhood.

“It has been a long year of a lot of hard work, a lot of thinking and a lot of listening,” said Tom Weeks, Lendlease executive general manager of development. “We really have a better plan tonight.”

Under the current proposal, the towers will be 80, 50 and 40 stories tall, and connected by a five-story “podium” that will house amenities and retail space.

In response to a main concern from neighbors, the development will include over 134,000 square feet of open space that will connect the area to the lakefront and riverwalk. There is more than double the amount of green space than was first proposed, developers said.

In December 2017, Alderman Brendan Reilly sent the development team a list of eight requirements in order for the project to get approved, including more accessible green space, additional security and improvements to traffic and pedestrian flow. Wednesday’s meeting saw the development team tick through each requirement and how it had been addressed.

“I do think this is a dramatically improved proposal,” Reilly said at the meeting. Still, he added, “Our work is not done here.” The plan still requires city approval.

Neighbors who spoke at the meeting did not voice major concerns with the new plan. Many comments addressed a general lack of promised pedway tunnel extension to the area, which have not been included in the many recent developments in Lakeshore East.

The neighborhood has been the epicenter of Chicago’s recent surge of residential development.

The under-construction Vista Tower will be the the city’s third tallest building when it is completed in 2020. Magellan is also developing that project. Related Midwest has plans to build the city’s fifth tallest tower at 400 North Lake Shore Drive, the former “Spire” site that sits just north of the Lendlease-Magellan proposal.

Lendlease is also moving ahead with plans for a 7.5-acre redevelopment along the South Branch of the Chicago River.