Riverfront megadevelopment headed to City Hall for approval

 

After approving the first phase of the 30-acre River District development in October, the Chicago Plan Commission is preparing to vote on an even larger riverfront proposal—the 62-acre, Near South Side campus known as The 78. The mixed-use project is the largest to appear on the commission’s preliminary November agenda.

Developed by Related Midwest with architectural master planning by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, The 78 calls for nothing short of an entirely new neighborhood between the South Loop and Chinatown. It is one of several locations Chicago has shopped to Amazon for its HQ2 second headquarters. The Seattle-based tech giant is expected to announce the winning city by the end of the year.

Though the final design of The 78 will ultimately depend on an end users like Amazon or some other major corporate tenant, the development team is ready to get the zoning process rolling. Phase one of the megaproject focuses primarily on building new roads and relocating the Metra tracks that currently obstruct the eastern side of the site.

Future phases are expected to include a number of skyscrapers rising as high as 950 feet tall, a seven-acre crescent shaped park, a 100-foot-wide public riverwalk with a water taxi stop, a university-affiliated innovation center known as the Discovery Partners Institute, and 10,000 residential units.

The 78 isn’t the only notable development headed to City Hall in November. The Plan Commission will also consider a pair of West Loop apartment towers slated for Van Buren Street, the mixed-use Ogden Commons project in Douglas Park, and a University of Chicago plan for a 12-story hotel at 1225 E. 60th Street—an item deferred at last month’s meeting.

Meanwhile, the Bank of America-anchored office tower under construction at 110 N. Wacker Drive will make its third trip in front of the commissioners. The Goettsch-designed skyscraper was initially approved in March of 2017 only to return in December to seek an additional 100,000 square feet of floor space. Looking to now add another 50,000 square feet, the riverfront high-rise will increase its final height from 800 to 830 feet.

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