NEAR NORTH SIDE — For more than a year, neighbors of a Near North Side site slated to get a 39-story apartment tower fought the proposal, arguing it was too tall, too close to their high-rise and would bring too much traffic to the neighborhood.
On Thursday, they got the news they’d been hoping for: The developer of the tower withdrew it from consideration by city planners just ahead of a key vote.
It was the latest setback for Fifield Companies’ plan to build a 303-unit building at 125 W. Maple St. The company reworked the proposal multiple times in hopes of winning over neighbors and Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), whose approval was key to convincing his City Council colleagues to also sign off.
Last month, it was due to go before the city’s Plan Commission for an up or down vote before the city’s aldermen could consider it. On the eve of that vote, Fifield asked to move it to Thursday’s meeting “to address some lingering questions from the community that were raised during the meeting.”
But Hopkins notified constituents by email Thursday that Fifield withdrew from Thursday’s meeting. He said it came “after a year of dialogue with my constituents and area stakeholders, negotiations with the developer and careful review of their plans by my office.”
“I want to thank all of you who provided feedback to my office,” he said in an email newsletter. “Your concerns related to the existing congestion on Maple Street, the current context of predominantly lower-rise structures in the surrounding blocks and overall compatibility of this proposal at this location were carefully considered by both the developer and my office.”
It’s not immediately clear if Fifield hopes to rework the proposal again. A representative from the developer said they will let Hopkins’ statement speak for itself.
Fifield’s plan has undergone a few iterations since the project was first presented to neighbors in July 2020. Its latest version was 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 was 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.
The developers planned to buy air rights from the adjacent Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral at 1017 N. LaSalle Drive, and they wanted to 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.
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