WEST LOOP — A key city commission gave the green light to a $95 million office tower at the Fulton Market gateway in the West Loop, a distinctive building with trees planted on a series of setback landings that rise with the building.
Neighbors have been worried about the traffic Thor Equities’ 19-story tower at 800 W. Fulton Market will bring to the increasingly crowded neighborhood.
But with the local alderman’s support and a thumbs up from a key neighborhood group, the city’s Plan Commission on Thursday voted to let the project move forward.
The proposed building is a 300-foot-tall brick-and-glass office tower, with commercial retail space and 32 parking spaces.
Thor Equities will pay $3.96 million into the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus Fund, a program that allows developers to build bigger and taller projects in an expanded Downtown area to support commercial projects in blighted neighborhoods.
According to the Department of Development and Planning, the project will generate 1,800 permanent jobs.
“The developer originally proposed 326 feet and 18 stories,” said Kevin Bargnes, a spokesman for the Department of Planning and Development. “Following discussions with community, the developer reduced the overall height to 300 feet, while also reducing the floor-to-ceiling height of each floor, resulting in 19 stories for the approved plan.”
On Friday, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. told Block Club Chicago that he felt the developer had addressed most of the concerns raised from residents.
He said the widened sidewalks would alleviate any concerns about pedestrian safety, while vehicular traffic would be gone after 5 p.m. when people leave work.
“This is going to bring a lot of jobs and opportunities to the neighborhood,” he said.
If approved by City Council, construction on the building could begin this summer.
Earlier last week, the project received support from one influential neighborhood group and pushback from another.
In a letter to Burnett, West Central Association president Armando Chacon said the project met the previously approved West Loop Design Guidelines, expanded neighborhood sidewalks and converted Wayman Street into a two-way street to improve traffic in the area.
Neighbors of the West Loop issued a letter to Burnett opposing the 18-story tower earlier this month, raising concerns about height and traffic in their letter.
“The overall height of the development is out of scale relative to neighboring buildings,” Matt Letourneau, president and development chair of the group, said in the letter. “The Neighborhood Plan prescribes a maximum height of 150 feet for this site, which should be observed.”
Neighbors of the West Loop also said the traffic study provided by Thor Equities failed to address residents’ concerns about traffic circulation and access to the proposed site.
Developer Sterling Bay is constructing three office towers north of the proposed Thor Equities tower — a 20-story building at 330 N. Green St., a 19-story building at the old Coyne College parking lot, 333 N. Green St., and a 21-story building at 360 N. Green St.