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Near North Side, River North

Moody Bible Campus Megadevelopment Would Get Extra Acre Of Open Space Under Latest Plan

The megadevelopment's plans went from 1.3 acres of open space to 2.5 acres in the latest draft, which was presented to community members on Wednesday.

A rendering of the North Union mega-development shows what it will look like in the context of the city.
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NEAR NORTH SIDE — Developers behind a proposed mega-development annexing space from Moody Bible Institute’s Near North Side campus have modified their plans to nearly double the amount of open space.

James Letchinger, founder and CEO of JDL Development, presented the firm’s revised plans for the sprawling North Union development during a Wednesday presentation to community members. The project will be bounded by Wells Street to the east, the CTA Brown Line tracks to the west, Chestnut Street to the south and Hill Street to the north.

When finished, the 8.1-acre project will bring 2,656 residential units and 30,000 square feet of commercial space to a variety of low-, mid- and high-rise buildings in the area. It will also include 2.5 acres of public open space, Letchinger said. That’s up from the 1.3 acres of open space in last draft of the project, which was presented to community members in November.

“Certainly there are going to be those in the neighborhood who may or may not want this to go forward, but we’ve listened to the neighborhood groups and neighbors directly, and we’ve made tremendous modifications,” Letchinger said. “We want this to contribute to the community and be something we’re all proud of.”

Other changes include adding more architectural sculpting to the buildings’ designs, reducing the height of one building by 34 feet and modifying the bases of some buildings to reduce winter wind downdraft, Letchinger said.

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A rendering of the proposed North Union mega-development shows how the project will be completed in phases over the next decade.

Construction for the project will be broken into five phases, beginning as soon as this year and lasting through the next decade, Letchinger said.

The first phase includes three buildings at the southern tip of the development along West Chestnut Street. The buildings range from 50 to 300 feet in height.

Moving north, the next phase, expected to begin in 2023, features a package of four buildings raning from 48 to 205 feet tall. The buildings get taller as the project moves north, with phase three including a 475-foot tower and phase four a 380-foot tower.

The project’s final phase, which could begin in 2029, includes building the project’s two tallest buildings — one 620 feet and the other 695 feet, according to the presentation.

“Height is always an issue, but we have modified some of the heights and have a progressive height structure where we start on the shorter end near Wells Street, and we get as high as 695 feet” on the other end, Letchinger said.

JDL Development filed its application for the planned development with City Council on Wednesday, according to Emily Thrun, a coordinating planner with the city’s Department of Planning and Development.

The next step for the project would be to schedule a hearing before the plan commission, she said.

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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