The Real Deal Chicago

Alderman rejects Related Midwest’s mixed-use project at former Chicago Spire site

Alderman Brendan Reilly asked the developer — which wants to build 2 towers with 850 residential units — to scrap the proposal’s hotel component among other changes
By Alex Nitkin | October 22, 2018 02:27PM

Alderman Brendan Reilly and Related Midwest’s Curt Bailey with renderings of 400 North Lake Shore Drive (Credit: ward42chicago and Related Midwest)

UPDATED, 4:24 p.m., Oct. 22, 2018: Downtown Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd) sent Related Midwest back to the drawing board on its mega-development proposal for 400 North Lake Shore Drive, better known as the site of the ill-fated Chicago Spire project.

The alderman, who would need to support a zoning change in order for any development there to move forward, wrote in an email to constituents Monday that Related “did not adequately address any of the major concerns” neighbors and others brought up after the proposal’s unveiling this spring.

The plan imagines a pair of twisting white towers combining for 850 residential units and 175 hotel rooms, with the taller building stretching 1,100 feet into the sky. The buildings would share a 90-foot podium.

Reilly cited the podium’s height among a litany of “outstanding neighborhood concerns” over the proposal, including a request that the hotel portion of the development be scrapped altogether.

In response, Related said it will keep meeting with neighbors to refine the proposal. In an e-mailed statement, the company said  it “will move forward with a design that realizes the potential of this site.”

The alderman sent a “detailed memo” to the development team in August asking that they eliminate a proposed “public esplanade” along the Ogden Slip waterway and develop a “security plan” for the adjacent DuSauble Park, which Related had offered to build as part of the project.

“Several weeks later, Related Midwest provided me with a response that did not adequately address any of the major concerns about their proposal,” Reilly wrote. “I have informed Related Midwest that the … proposal will not be moving forward in its current form and is therefore rejected.”

A spokesperson for Related Midwest did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

An 8-story-deep circular foundation still marks the spot where developer Garrett Kelleher began work on the Santiago Calatrava-designed Chicago Spire, which would have corkscrewed 2,000 feet into the air had it not stalled in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Related bought the delinquent bank debt on the property in 2013.

Days before releasing its proposal for 400 North Lake Shore Drive, Related offered the public its first look at their sweeping plan for the 62-acre “The 78” mega-development.

Related is also accepting its first batch of tenants in its redeveloped Lathrop Homes mixed-income development, which will eventually open more than 1,100 units along the north branch of the Chicago River.

The developer is planning this month to eliminate its full-service brokerage wing, replacing it with a smaller sales team charged with marketing the company’s own properties.