Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

CHICAGO-Rather than defacing the Jeweler’s Row landmark district, a 71-story condominium tower at the northeast corner of Wabash Avenue and Monroe Street will be a “stunning addition” to the East Loop skyline, plan commission members agreed Thursday. Mesa Development’s $300-million, 353-unit project will add 8,500 sf of ground-floor retail space, 41,000 sf for the School of the Art Institute on the next two floors, 460 parking spaces in nine stories of parking and an 18,000-sf athletic club on the 13th and 14th floors.

Mesa Development founder Richard A. Hanson expects to begin construction next year, with completion likely in 2010. However, the project still needs city council approval, and his Monroe/Wabash Development LLC must acquire the four-building property from the Art Institute, which uses some of the space for classrooms, administrative offices and storage. Although Hanson is talking with a syndicate of banks about financing, he expects there likely will be a pre-sale requirement in the 35% to 50% range for his condos, which will average between $400 per sf to $500 per sf. “We have a long way to go yet,” he adds.

Although the 57-story reinforced concrete, aluminum and glass triangular condominium tower will sit atop of the retail space, parking garage, classrooms and athletic club, facades at 21-39 S. Wabash Ave. and 52-64 E. Monroe St. will be preserved. However, opponents criticize the 822-foot height of the new building, as well as nearly 1 million sf of mixed-use space.

“If an 800-foot building can be permitted in an historic district where the prevailing height is less than 300 feet, what keeps that from happening in any other historic district in Chicago?” says David Bahlman, president of the Landmark Preservation Council of Illinois. Adds Jonathan Fine, president of Preservation Chicago, “We do not condone construction of new buildings on top of historically significant ones…It opens the door to unbridled development in historic districts.”

However, 42nd Ward Alderman Burton Natarus argues Wabash Avenue already is hampered by the Chicago Transit Authority’s elevated tracks above the street, which casts shadows on Jeweler’s Row. “What everybody is forgetting is, this is Wabash Avenue,” Natarus says. “Wabash is a very, very different street because of the El. The El is an absolute shade on the street. This will make Wabash Avenue something to be proud of.”

US Equities Realty president and chief operating officer Nancy A. Pacher, also a member of the plan commission, agrees. Her firm’s office is at 20 N. Michigan Ave., a block from Mesa Development’s latest proposal as well as a block south of its Heritage at Millennium Park condominium tower. “It’s a wonderful part of the Loop, until you get to Wabash,” Pacher says. “It looks dirty, tacky and seedy.”

Hanson is being allowed to build 300,000 sf more than current zoning permits as a result of building setbacks, an environmental “green roof,” 20% of units being accessible to the handicapped and a $1.3-million donation to the city’s affordable housing fund.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join GlobeSt.com now!

  • Free unlimited access to GlobeSt.com's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.