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Near North Side, River North

Controversial Near North Side Apartment Tower Proposal Gets Taller And Thinner Ahead Of Key City Vote

Fifield Companies' latest proposal is for a 39-story building at 125 W. Maple St., but neighbors in the next-door condo building don't approve.

Developers from Fifield Companies plan to knock down the red brick building at 111 W. Maple St. and build a 39-story tower of apartments.
Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
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NEAR NORTH SIDE — Developers behind a controversial luxury apartment building proposed on the Near North Side showed neighbors the latest version of their plan Monday — a 39-story building that’s thinner and shorter than originally proposed.

Neighbors in an adjacent building, however, said they need more time to review the changes before the proposal goes any further.

Fifield Companies presented its plans for the 303-unit building at 125 W. Maple St. during a community meeting Monday hosted by Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) and the Gold Coast Neighbors Association. The proposal is scheduled to go before the city’s Plan Commission on Thursday.

Fifield’s latest iteration of the project is taller than a 29-story proposal developers showed last fall. But it’s smaller than the 43-story, 406-unit plan presented to neighbors in July 2020.

Another change in the project’s latest iteration is increasing the building’s setback from 20 feet to 40 feet, which would create more space between it and the neighboring Gold Coast Galleria, a 34-story condominium building that sits east of the planned development at 111 W. Maple St.

The new building’s first nine floors would be wider than the rest. Those floors would be reserved for parking and a private terrace. The developer also reduced the number of parking spaces from 146 in its first proposal to 124 in the latest.

Credit: Provided
A rendering shows Fifield’s plans for a 39-story apartment building at 125 W. Maple St.

The developers would still buy air rights from the adjacent Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral at 1017 N. LaSalle Drive, and they would build a seven-story community center for the church in the lot between the building using the church’s proceeds from the sale.

Neighbors of the Gold Coast Galleria have long blasted the project for being too dense and too close to their condo building, and they argued Monday the project’s latest iteration would still cause too much traffic congestion for the area. They’re especially worried about the buildings’ shared alley, which would be used to access the planned development’s parking garage.

Hopkins said he has not yet made a decision on the proposal, though he will before Thursday’s Plan Commission meeting.

But residents of the Gold Coast Galleria pleaded for more time to discuss the issue and conduct their own traffic studies before the proposal reaches the city.

“We need time to review these new plans,” Kenneth Green, president of the Gold Coast Galleria’s board, wrote in the meeting’s comments. “Giving us only a few days to prepare and ensure that hundreds of residents and neighbors can attend is not sufficient. Ald. Hopkins, will you ask the Plan Commission to place a hold on this proposal until another meeting can be held and more questions/answers can be addressed?”

At least a couple dozen neighbors emailed letters, which were forwarded to Block Club Chicago, to Hopkins and the Plan Commission expressing disapproval for the project.

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
Fifield’s developers plan to knock down the three-story building across from the Galleria to build a 39-story tower with a 40-foot setback.
Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
Neighbors at the Gold Coast Galleria say Fifield’s development would create a 20-foot, shared alley used to access both buildings’ loading docks.

Lindsey Senn, Fifield’s executive vice president of finance and development, said the Gold Coast Galleria residents have had “quite a bit of time” to go over the project since they engaged the building’s residents in April 2020.

Fifield held two broader community meetings about the proposal and then met with the Galleria’s residents two more times to go over their concerns, Senn said.

The Gold Coast Galleria “has had quite a bit of opportunity to comment, and their comments have been taken into consideration and very much been the driving force in the revised plans we’ve put forth today,” Senn said.

In addition to reducing the original proposals’ height and unit count to address concerns about the project’s density and scale, Senn said, the developers conducted a traffic study in February 2020 that concluded the project wouldn’t have a significant affect on the area.

To improve congestion in the alley, which is 20 feet wide compared to the city’s average alley size of 16 feet, Senn said they would relocate nearby utility poles so the full width of the alley can be used.

“We’ll make it a better alley, even with the increased traffic from our garage, than it already is,” said CEO Steve Fifield.

The developers’ latest plans, which will be posted on Hopkins’ website, will go before the Plan Commission on Thursday.

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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