Holy Identify improvement wins native alderman’s approval, because of visitors modifications

It looks like developers are about to get the green light to build a pair of residential towers — one nearly as tall as the Hancock Building — on a parking lot once reserved for parishioners at Holy Name Cathedral.

Local Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said he’s “leaning toward support” for the massive project known as One Chicago Square, even though the influx of 869 residential units has the potential to change the face of River North.

That’s because of what Hopkins calls a “Chicago Avenue transit improvement program” being incorporated into the plan development.

“We’re finally gonna be able to address the traffic backups on Chicago Avenue. We’re also using part of the funding from this to improve Seneca Park. That would be the local developer’s contribution. And we’re using this to finally get the Chicago Avenue bridge widening off the books. It’s been talked about for years,” Hopkins said.

“Chicago Avenue is currently a traffic gridlock nightmare most of the day. The types of improvements we’ve got CDOT working on are going to reduce that congestion. We’re gonna increase the capacity flow, remove some of the parking allowed so you have four lanes, instead of two. The net result will be better traffic conditions.”

Hopkins said he’s working on specific language to be incorporated into the plan development.

“We have a draft. If we can get that revised and the language is final by [Thursday’s] Plan Commission meeting, I would expect I would support it then. If not, we’ll push it back to February,” the alderman said.

Last fall, JDL Development applied for zoning approval to build two residential towers to fill the parking lot owned by the Archdiocese of Chicago at State Street and Chicago Avenue.

One tower would be 75 stories tall. The other would have 45 floors. They would be directly across from Holy Name Cathedral’s stately doors and stained glass rose window.

Both towers would rise from a nine-story base housing a mixture of residential and commercial space, including a state-of the-art fitness club and a grocery store.

Roughly 225 of the development’s 1,090 parking spaces — none visible from the street — would be reserved for use by Holy Name parishioners.

JDL President Jim Letchinger acknowledged Monday that, at Hopkins request, the developer has agreed to make the Chicago Avenue building “a little skinnier.”

JDL has agreed to bankroll all changes needed to improve traffic on Chicago Avenue; Letchinger estimated that cost at “well over $1 million.”

Even with those concessions, some local residents still believe the block-long development will bring too much density to an already-congested area.

“There’s always residents who are opposed. They don’t want anything built. [But] this is a very dense portion of the city. It’s got a very dense underlying zoning to begin with. We’re making all the accommodations that we can for traffic,” the developer said.


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