The Real Deal Chicago

Alderman Dowell rejects new CTA Red Line stop for The 78

The South Loop official said the new station at West 15th and South Clark streets would be too disruptive for surrounding neighborhood
By John O’Brien | January 11, 2019 09:00AM

The CTA Red Line stop, Pat Dowell and Curt Bailey

Related Midwest’s The 78 is the latest mega-development to run afoul of the unwritten rule of “aldermanic privilege” in Chicago, after Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd) said she opposes the developer’s plan for a new CTA Red Line stop for the project.

Dowell issued a statement Thursday saying while she supports The 78 overall, she can’t back Related’s plan for the new subway stop “right in the middle of an established, entirely residential area. This location would be too disruptive for my residents and completely out of character with the area,” Dowell said.

Related last month unveiled its plans for the new CTA Red Line stop at the southeast corner of West 15th and South Clark streets that would include a glass-wrapped structure above ground.

The station is one of a several major infrastructure projects Related has proposed for The 78, including moving the Metra Rock Island tracks that now form an eastern boundary for the site.

The $7 billion, neighborhood-sized development could include 13 million square feet of office, hotel and residential space, with as many as 10,000 residential units planned. The Chicago developer won its first city approval for the 62-acre project in November.

The actual development site is in the 25th Ward of Alderman Danny Solis. But the new above-ground Red Line station entrance would be across the border in Dowell’s ward.

She said it would disrupt the surrounding Dearborn Park townhome and condominium development, and work on the project would affect nearby Cotton Tail Park, reducing “already limited community green space for years.”

While she credited Related leaders for working with the community on The 78, she said the Red Line station plans were made without any input from 3rd Ward residents. Since the project was unveiled, Dowell said she’s received a flood of responses from residents about it.

“The vast majority of these comments are firmly against the project,” she said.

In response to Dowell’s statement, Related said it now plans to move the station across Clark to the west side of the street, which would be in Solis’ ward and would be contiguous with the rest of The 78 property, according to Crain’s.

But it remains to be seen if Dowell’s opposition will be enough to sway Solis, and the rest of the City Council, to kill the station.

Under the unwritten rule of “aldermanic privilege,” the local alderman has final say over projects in his or her ward.

No firm knows that as well as Sterling Bay, which has had to make a number of changes to its plan for the Lincoln Yards mega-development on the North Branch of the Chicago River after pushback from Alderman Brian Hopkins (2nd). Just this week, the Chicago developer had to shelve plans for a 20,000-seat soccer stadium planned for the project after Hopkins nixed it.