DOWNTOWN — Fulton Market needs a new CTA station to cope with the flood of residents and workers unleashed by the neighborhood’s development boom, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said on Thursday.
The alderman made a direct appeal to the city’s new planning and transportation commissioners during a meeting of the Chicago Plan Commission, whose members approved three major new developments in Fulton Market.
Residents of the booming neighborhood deserve a new stop at Lake and Halsted streets to help them “bear the burden” of new development, much of which is approved over loud objections from neighbors who fear a rush of new traffic.
Burnett noted the 25-story apartment complex, 20-story hotel and 16-story office approved on Thursday for construction in Fulton Market will combine for more than $8 million in payments into the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, which fuels the city’s Invest South/West initiative.
“The West Loop brings the money to the city,” Burnett said. “So we need an ‘El’ stop, because we’re investing [in] South/West … . Sometimes people aren’t happy with development. We can make them happy with an ‘El’ stop at this spot.”
Burnett suggested dipping into the city’s Kinzie Conservation tax-increment financing district before the district’s scheduled expiration next year to pay for the station.
“We got money in the pot,” Burnett said. “Before that money goes to all the other taxing bodies, we need to capture it and make something happen that’s going to benefit, attract and keep more development coming to this community.”
The CTA opened a Pink and Green Line station at Morgan Street in 2012, two blocks west of Halsted. The agency is also working on the construction of a new Green Line station at Damen Avenue, set for completion next year.
Gia Biagi, a Department of Transportation commissioner, told Burnett her department would “work closely with the CTA to look at a demand analysis” for a potential station on the site.
Burnett made his comments during the commission’s discussion of a proposal by North Park Ventures to build a 20-story hotel at 800 W. Lake St. The developer is taking advantage of the city’s transit-oriented development rules by not including any parking on site, a detail that irked members of local community groups when they heard about the plan last year.
However, a “pass-through lane” would bisect the site and allow ridehail drivers to stop at the hotel without blocking traffic, according to city planning department staffer Noah Szafraniec. Transportation officials will also add left turn arrows and countdown pedestrian signals to the busy intersection of Lake and Halsted.
Drivers will have to enter the property from Lake Street and leave by making a right turn onto Halsted, according to the plans.
Just under half of the hotel’s 476 planned guest rooms would be “micro rooms” that charge less than $200 per night, according to the latest draft of the plan. Because the $150 million proposal triggered the city’s density bonus program, North Park Ventures will pay $2.07 million into the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund.
Later during Thursday’s meeting, commissioners gave their go-ahead to a proposal by Marquette Companies to build a 25-story mixed-use tower with 281 apartments and a restaurant on the ground floor at 1400 W. Randolph St. The commission in November approved a companion proposal by Marquette to build a 243-unit complex across the street at 1440 W. Randolph St.
The tower would include 28 affordable units on site and another 28 in a separate complex at 1926 W. Harrison St., matching the minimum requirements of the Affordable Requirements Ordinance Near North pilot zone.
The on-site affordable units, mostly studio and one-bedroom apartments, would be targeted at renters earning up to 100 percent of area median income, according to Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara. The off-site units would be larger and reserved for families earning less than 60 percent of area median income.
Plan Commission member Guacolda Reyes, who is also vice president of the non-profit Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, called it “frustrating” that Marquette did not include affordable family-sized units on-site. She was the only commissioner to vote against the proposal.
Marquette Companies President Darren Sloniger said he would “love to put more affordable housing in this deal,” but the “ridiculous nature of costs” held him back.
“Between the cost of construction going up, land going up and this wildcard with property taxes, to underwrite deals to make them work is very challenging,” Sloniger said.
Marquette’s plan includes 108 parking spaces and 225 bicycle parking stalls. Because the $100 million proposal triggered the city’s density bonus program, Marquette is required to pay $2.67 million into the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund.
In a separate proposal approved by the commission on Thursday, Dallas-based developer Trammell Crow plans to build a 16-story office building with ground-floor retail at 400 N. Aberdeen St. in the 27th Ward. The $220 million proposal would include 150 parking spaces, and the developer would score extra density by paying about $3.6 million into the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund.
As part of its agreement with the city, Trammell Crow promised to pay $250,000 for “railroad crossing upgrades” on the adjacent Metra tracks and another $300,000 for a new traffic signal at Grand Avenue and May Street.
The projects will go before the Committee on Zoning before heading to City Council.