NEAR NORTH SIDE — A proposal for a controversial luxury apartment building on the Near North Side won’t go before a key city panel this week as planned, giving developers another month to work through concerns raised by the neighboring community.
Fifield Companies wants to build a 39-story, 303-unit building at 125 W. Maple St., but the developers’ plans were largely criticized during a community meeting Monday by neighbors in the adjacent building, who said they needed more time to review the plan before it goes any further.
But on Thursday — when the proposal was scheduled to reach the city’s Plan Commission for a potential key vote on its future — a representative for Fifield said the developers “voluntarily deferred” the proposal “to address some lingering questions from the community that were raised during the meeting.”
“We look forward to resolving these community discussions and moving ahead with our proposal in the coming weeks,” said Adam Gypalo, a spokesperson for Fifield Companies.
Fifield’s plan has undergone a few iterations since the project was first presented to neighbors in July 2020. Its latest version 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.
Another change to the project’s latest version is increasing the building’s setback form 20 feet to 40 feet, creating 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.
However, the new building’s first nine floors would not have the setback and be wider than the rest. Those floors would be reserved for 124 parking spaces and a private terrace.
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.
But neighbors in the Gold Coast Galleria, who have long blasted the project for being too dense and too close to their condo building, argued Monday that the project’s latest version would still cause too much traffic congestion for the area. They’re especially worried about the public alley between the two buildings, which would be used to access the planned development’s parking garage.
The neighbors 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?”
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.
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 proposal is now scheduled to go before the Plan Commission during its Aug. 19 meeting.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.