Fern Hill tweaks plans for Old Town apartment tower 

Proposed adding eight stories and increasing setback to preserve neighbors’ views; city approvals still needed

Fern Hill Proposes Increased Height of Old Town Resi Tower
Fern Hill’s Nick Anderson with rendering of Old Town apartment tower (LinkedIn, Fern Hill, Getty)

Fern Hill has tweaked its plans for an Old Town apartment tower in response to local residents’ concerns.

The local firm, led by former Related Midwest executive Nick Anderson, has added eight floors to the 500-unit project in exchange for a greater setback meant to free up neighbors’ views, Block Club reported.

Fern Hill, which is redeveloping several other properties in the area, submitted its proposal for the 44-story tower to City Council earlier this week.

The tower, slated to rise above the Walgreens at 1601 North Wells Street, will now be set back over 40 feet from Wells, reducing its width by 15 percent to 164 feet, while its height grows by 85 feet. Fern Hill contends that the height increase won’t compromise surrounding views.

These alterations were prompted by feedback gathered from community meetings and a public engagement website since 2021. Previous changes included a redesign featuring warmer architectural tones to harmonize with the neighborhood’s character.

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“Our priority from the start has been to have an authentic dialogue with the community and get feedback from residents, business owners and other stakeholders, and we’re proud to present a revised design that reflects those insights,” Anderson told the outlet.

Beyond the tower itself, the development calls for the removal of BP and Shell gas stations to facilitate the expansion of the Moody Church’s administrative offices. The Walgreens at North Avenue and Wells Street will be renovated, with part of the tower built above it. Moreover, plans involve renovating the vacant Treasure Island grocery store. The Walgreens at the tower’s base will temporarily relocate to part of the vacant Treasure Island space during remodeling.

Of the tower’s 500 apartments, 100 are earmarked for affordable housing, while the remaining 400 will be offered at market rates. 

Community reaction to the project has been mixed, with concerns over increased traffic congestion. However, proponents argue that the area needs densification, affordable housing and safety enhancements. Alderman Brian Hopkins, whose ward encompasses the project, has yet to take a stance. The proposal still requires approval from Hopkins, the Zoning Board of Appeals and City Council.

—Quinn Donoghue 

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