FULTON RIVER DISTRICT — Developers unveiled plans for a 33-story apartment building near the Chicago River, sparking some Fulton River District neighbors to worry about the traffic the development could add to the area.
The Habitat Company and Chicago-based architecture firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz aim to build a 375-foot, 33-story building with 343 apartments at 344 N. Canal St. At a meeting Monday night at East Bank Club, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said the project was not a done deal and residents still had a chance to weigh in on how it could be improved.
“The purpose of this meeting is to get my marching orders from all of you on what to try and solve for …This still needs more work, we are quietly taking notes and writing down your concern,” he said.
The apartments would be a mix of studios, junior one-bedroom, two-bedroom and “two-bedroom plus ” units ranging from 500 square feet to 1,700 square feet. A company representative said they will meet the 10 percent affordable housing requirement but are still determining how many units will be built on-site.
The building would include 124 parking spaces across three floors, a fifth-floor amenity space for residents, a small commercial retail space and a 1,800-square-foot dog run in the viaduct under the Metra tracks.
The development would replace the five-story Cassidy Tire warehouse.
Ward Miller, president of Preservation Chicago, asked developers to incorporate the facade of the existing Henry J. Schlacks-designed building into the new building. It was constructed in 1902 and formerly housed the Tyler & Hippach glass company.
Reilly told neighbors he spent a lot of time before the meeting working with city staff and the developers to address deficiencies in the initial proposal.
Under plans, loading and unloading would happen from Clinton Street. Drops offs are planned for a porte-cochere for traffic heading southbound on Canal Street. Traffic heading north on Canal will be prevented from making left-hand turns into the property by bollards, developers assured residents.
“For me, the most important piece of their proposal is getting the traffic and loading right,” Reilly said. “Of course, the aesthetic is important to me, but if the site can’t function properly in the neighborhood, it’s a failure.”
During the meeting, some residents raised concerns about traffic the development could add to the area in the form of ride shares, taxis and food-delivery services.
Residents asked for Reilly to study traffic control options at two at Kinzie and Clinton streets and Kinzie and Canal streets.
Another resident said the convergence of multiple modes of transportation on Canal Street was “dangerous.”
“The Metra, cars, bicycles, people occupying the same space right now, is an inevitable accident very soon,” the resident said. “I think adding more people, more Uber, more delivery to this — even with the best-intentioned ways of routing the traffic — is pushing an already constrained traffic line.”
Other residents suggested making Clinton and Canal streets one-way streets to remedy traffic problems.
The developer is seeking a zoning change. If approved, developers would pay $3.1 million into the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund in exchange for added density.
If all goes well, construction on the building could begin in fall 2020.
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