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Near North Side, River North

Near North Condo Owners Don’t Want Another High-Rise Built Next Door. Now They’ll Weigh In At Public Hearing

Fifield Companies plans to build the 457-foot tower at 111 W. Maple. Neighbors at the Gold Coast Galleria say it will block light and airflow, and diminish property values.

A rendering commissioned by the Gold Coast Galleria condo association shows Fifield Companies' proposed 43-story tower (left) next to their condo building. The brick building in front of the Fifield tower shows where the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral plans to build a community center.
Provided/Gold Coast Galleria Condominium Association
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NEAR NORTH SIDE — Neighbors of a proposed 43-story luxury condo building can weigh in on the development at a public hearing this Wednesday.

Fifield Companies plans to build the 457-foot building at the southeast corner of Maple Street and LaSalle Drive — just next to the Gold Coast Galleria condominiums at 111 W. Maple St, according to the condo association.

The proposal includes buying air rights from the adjacent Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, allowing the church to afford a new community center to be built in its parking lot.

The new Fifield tower at 125 West Maple would house 406 rental units, 3,700 square feet of retail space and a six-story parking garage.

Residents of the Galleria — a 34-story tower with 330 units — say the development is too big for the lot, and would like to see the tower go elsewhere in the neighborhood.

Among other issues, they say the development would leave just 20 feet between the two buildings, creating a narrow shared alley used to access both buildings’ parking garages, according to the condo association.

“Building 20 feet away is ridiculous and would completely block sunlight for west-facing units, which make up a third of the building,” said Wolfgang Suess, treasurer of the Gold Coast Galleria condo board.

Galleria residents also say the tower would block airflow, congest traffic and reduce their property values, Seuss said.

“I understand that views are not protected, but peoples’ quality of life should be,” Seuss said.

Rene Graza, a 29-year-old graduate student who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, has lived in the Gold Coast Galleria since he bought his studio in late 2016. It’s a west-facing apartment on the 11th floor, so he fears losing his sunlight and airflow.

Credit: PROVIDED/GOLD COAST GALLERIA CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION
A rendering commissioned by the Gold Coast Galleria condo association shows the 20-foot alley that would exist between their building and the proposed Fifield tower.

“I only moved forward with this apartment because it had a lot of sunlight,” Graza said. “I do a lot of studying and work from home and I can get depressed with no sunlight.”

Graza said he put down all of his money on the property, and he worries he’ll lose money from the investment if his property value is affected by the Fifield tower.

“I’m a grad student, so I’m currently even getting more debt while working a part-time job because my hours were scaled back because of COVID,” Raza said. “This isn’t just about views. Some of us worry about bankruptcy from this proposal.”

Adam Gypalo, a spokesperson for Fifield Properties, said developers will be available to discuss their proposal at Wednesday’s meeting.

“We’ve had multiple conversations with neighboring buildings – including the condominium association at 111 W. Maple – over the past several months and we look forward to discussing the significant public benefits this proposal will provide the city of Chicago,” Gypalo said in an email.

“Included in these substantial benefits is a $5.7 million contribution into the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund encouraging private investment into underserved communities, in line with Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West initiative.”

A spokesperson for Ald. Brian Hopkins’ office (2nd) said he will not take a position on the proposed development until after Wednesday’s hearing.

The meeting will be held 6 p.m. Wednesday through Zoom. Participants should RSVP online beforehand.

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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