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Wolf Point Update

February 18, 2013

 

The Wolf Point Planned Development Amendment will be re-heard at the Tuesday, February 26th Committee on Zoning meeting due to a scribner's error in the noticing for the Monday, February 11th meeting date.  Committee will meet at 10:00am in City Council Chambers located in City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle Street, 2nd floor.  If you have any further questions, please contact Committee on Zoning staff at 312-744-6845.

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Wolf Point Proposal Update

 

January 21, 2013

 

Just before the holidays, Alderman Reilly co-hosted a third public presentation with the River North Residents Association (RNRA) and Fulton River District Association (FRDA).  At that meeting, the development team presented their revised proposal for future consideration before the Chicago Plan Commission.  Alderman Reilly posted their powerpoint presentation and revised traffic study on his website since the meeting however, for your convenience both electronic files are available by clicking the above links.

Due to some valuable feedback provided by River North residents since the last community meeting, Alderman Reilly requested some additional changes to the developer's Planned Development proposal.  Those changes were made and reflected in the Planned Development Amendment documents submitted for consideration at the upcoming January 24th public hearing of the Chicago Plan Commission.  To view the developer's revised application and ordinance documents, please click HERE.

Should you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact Alderman Reilly's office via e-mail at: alderman@ward42chicago.com.

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Meeting Summary for Third Community Presentation for

Proposed Wolf Point Development

December 21, 2012

Alderman Reilly recently co-hosted a third public presentation with the River North Residents Association (RNRA) and Fulton River District Association (FRDA) to inform area residents of the “Wolf Point” development proposal at 350 N. Orleans Street.  Alderman Reilly would like to thank everyone who participated in the open and transparent community review process.

 

If you were unable to attend the meeting, please click on the following links to view the Slideshow Presentation, PD Application and Traffic Study presented at the meeting.


Should you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact Alderman Reilly’s office via e-mail at: alderman@ward42chicago.com.

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Third Community Presentation for Proposed Wolf Point Development

December 10, 2012

Dear Neighbor:

I am writing to invite you to join me for a third public presentation for the site located at 350 N. Orleans Street, commonly referred to as "Wolf Point".  I directed Hines Development Corporation to design this third public meeting around information related to site programming, the bulk table numbers governing the maximum allowed dwelling units, hotel key counts and office space that could be positioned within the proposed building envelopes. 

Also at this meeting, Hines will discuss their sixth revision to the traffic study---which I required in conjunction with their proposed programming and in anticipation of our upcoming public discussion.  I advised Hines that this next revision must contemplate the maximum numbers, in other words, the most intense combination of uses that could be built with the understanding that economically, such a scenario is somewhat unrealistic.

In summary, Hines has submitted a proposal for the development of three towers: Phase I (West Tower) proposed as a residential, 525 foot tall structure containing  a maximum of 510 units and 200 parking stalls; Phase II (South Tower) proposed as a 950 foot tall, mixed use structure which may contain office space, retail space, residential units and hotel space with 885 parking stalls; and Phase III (East Tower) proposed as a 750 foot tall mixed use structure which also may contain office space, retail space, residential units and hotel space with 200 parking stalls.  A maximum of 900 residential units and a maximum of 450 hotel rooms will be allowed to be distributed between Phases II and III with the combined number of residential units and hotel rooms not to exceed those maximums of 900 residential units and 450 hotel rooms.  The final draft bulk table can be downloaded here.

 

WHAT :       350 N. Orleans (former Wolf Point site) Development Project

WHO :         Alderman Brendan Reilly and co-hosted by the River North Residents Association

(RNRA) and Fulton River District Association (FRDA)

WHEN :        Thursday, December 20th at 5:30 P.M.

WHERE :      The Conference Center at UBS Tower

One North Wacker Drive  

(NE corner of Wacker and Madison)

2nd Floor - Michigan Ballroom

Chicago, Illinois

 

As you know, I work hard to provide an open and transparent community review of all local development proposals.  I want to thank the leadership of the RNRA and FRDA for their partnership and dedication in helping shape the most compatible development possible for this very prominent site.  Please join us to engage in a direct dialogue with the development team to gain a better understanding of the proposal and receive answers to any questions you may have.  

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Wolf Point Project Deferred Again, Off December Plan Commission Agenda

New Traffic Study in Works; Bulk Table Revised; Third Public Meeting Scheduled

December 6, 2012

 

Dear Neighbor:

I am writing to provide you with another update regarding the Wolf Point Proposal. As you know, last week I had this project removed from the Chicago Plan Commission's November 27th Agenda. I made this decision after previously undisclosed details were revealed by the Developer just one day before the November 27th public hearing. To make matters worse, the Filing did not include the long list of previously negotiated changes and improvements to the proposal.

Since deferring this item from the November Plan Commission Agenda, I have spent the past week meeting with the City of Chicago's planning and infrastructure departments as well as representatives from the River North and Fulton River District neighborhood associations to evaluate the new details recently released by the Developer that call for a hotel use and the potential for additional residential units on the site.

Although Hines/Kennedy have been aggressively lobbying for a process that would allow them to secure all necessary city approvals by the end of 2012, in light of the recent events, I have informed the development team that their preferred timeline is simply no longer feasible. As a result, I have again requested that the Chicago Plan Commission defer this item from its December 20th Agenda, for the purpose of vetting new information related to the Bulk Table for the site and to allow for a much-needed sixth revision to KLOA's traffic study.

We expect to receive an updated traffic study from KLOA next week, at which time I will dissect that study with the traffic engineers at CDOT to ensure the proper data and methodology were used to provide us with a realistic forecast of the revised traffic impacts associated with the details contained in the Bulk Table.  

Please click here to review a copy of the most recent draft of the Bulk Table, which reflects the past week's negotiations with the Developer.  

When reviewing the revised Bulk Table, you will note that we have dramatically reduced the maximum allowable hotel rooms on the site from the 1,800 rooms the Developer attempted to incorporate into their plans last week - down to a maximum potential number of hotel keys on the site to no more than 450 rooms.  

It is important to note that we are also requiring the Developer to memorialize a commitment that any potential hotel on the site will be a Limited Service Hotel (not a full service hotel) that does not include any conference or ballroom space. This is quite significant because a Limited Service Hotel has far less impact on parking needs and traffic circulation than a full service hotel does.

In the interest of providing full transparency, I will also be co-hosting a third public meeting in conjunction with the River North and Fulton River District associations on the date the Developer had otherwise hoped this project would be approved by the Chicago Plan Commission: Thursday, December 20th.  

Based upon the piecemeal manner in which information and important project details have been shared with the City of Chicago, my office and the constituents I represent - I have determined that this third public meeting is absolutely necessary to ensure all parties have a chance to better understand the Bulk Table and resulting traffic impacts. It is important to me that you have adequate time for review and comment on the revised proposal.

I want to also inform you of the additional, extraordinary layers of process that I will require of the Developer for Phase II and III of the project, moving forward. Phase II and Phase III will now require an additional trip to the Chicago Plan Commission for a public hearing (with opportunity for testimony and public comment) at which time members of the Plan Commission and infrastructure departments will review the specific details associated with the construction phase and make suggestions and revisions to the plans to reflect the infrastructure realities that exist in real-time when the towers are to be built.

Requiring these additional hearings before the Chicago Plan Commission is uncharacteristic of how we process all other planned developments downtown and throughout the City of Chicago. Phased developments are usually only required to submit plans for a Site Plan Approval which is processed administratively by city staff and is entirely hidden from public process. I have directed the Developer to memorialize those mandatory trips to the Plan Commission in their revised planned development documents.

I have also insisted upon an additional layer of transparency and review that is not typically required in phased developments. We are requiring that the Site Plan Approval documents must also include an updated traffic study based on data that reflects present day conditions at the time of construction for Phase II and Phase III of the project. This will ensure consideration of new or unanticipated development in the area that exists at the time of Site Plan Review.

These additional requirements are not common for the approval of phased developments in Chicago. The City does not require a new traffic study to be conducted as part of their official Site Plan Approval process. However, based upon the uniqueness of this site, the complexity of this proposal and the track record of the Development consultants, I feel obliged to require these additional layers of accountability on behalf of the constituents I was elected to represent.

By deferring this item from the December 20th Plan Commission Agenda, you will have more than a month to react to the revised Bulk Table and to review and digest the sixth revised traffic study that contemplates the "worst case scenario" of potential uses on the site for Phase II and Phase III. As soon as we have a vetted traffic study that passes muster with CDOT, I will distribute it broadly.

Once we have secured a meeting room and a start time for our third community meeting to be held on the evening of December 20th, I will share those details with you directly. Please "Save the Date" for this December 20th meeting. I hope you will consider joining us for another public review of the Wolf Point proposal.

Sincerely,

 

Brendan Reilly

Alderman, 42nd Ward

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Ald. Reilly Announces Deferral of Wolf Point Development

More Time Needed for Public Review of Site Programming & Funcionaliy

November 27, 2012

Alderman Brendan Reilly today asked the Chicago Plan Commission to defer consideration of the Wolf Point development proposal and remove it from the agenda for today's Plan Commission Hearing. The Alderman announced his decision after receiving the final documents that would govern the planned development on Monday, less than 24 hours prior to today's hearing. Further, the final documents submitted to the city did not accurately reflect the significant changes to the proposal that the Alderman negotiated on behalf of his constituents in the River North and Fulton River District neighborhoods.

"Over the past nine months, we have dedicated long hours to working with community leaders and neighbors to solicit their feedback while negotiating with the developer to make this a better project for everyone involved," Reilly said. "I believe our transparent public review process has worked - resulting in many important and impactful changes to the original proposal that make it a better fit for the neighborhood and Central Business District. Unfortunately, the final documents submitted yesterday did not accurately reflect what was negotiated."  

Public notice for the Wolf Point proposal was sent to neighborhood residents as a mixed-use development that includes a blend of residential, hotel and commercial uses housed within three separate high rise structures. Although planned development applications typically lack a high level of specificity, details related to the architecture, programming and functionality of the site are negotiated with the local alderman and relevant city departments.  

Following two well-attended public meetings in May and October, and many dozens of hours of negotiations, Alderman Reilly secured a significantly revised development proposal that addressed legitimate concerns related to traffic circulation, public open space and local infrastructure. As of Monday afternoon, the Alderman's Office had still been waiting for the final details and data related to the number of allowable dwelling units; maximum number of hotel keys; and how each of the three proposed towers would be programmed.

Upon receiving the details related to unit counts and programming on Monday afternoon, the Alderman determined the documents submitted to the Chicago Plan Commission did not accurately reflect all of the positive changes to the project that the Alderman negotiated on behalf of his constituents. Because Alderman Reilly is firmly committed providing a fully transparent public review process for proposed development downtown, he said he had no choice but to ask the Plan Commission to defer consideration of the project.

"Thanks to important feedback and incredible support we've received from the River North Residents Association and Fulton River District Association, I believe the proposal we have negotiated, to date, is far superior to the original submission," said Reilly. "Unfortunately, the 'final' documents submitted to my office yesterday afternoon did not accurately reflect all of the many changes made to the proposal and also introduced a particular blend of uses never previously discussed with my office or local neighborhood groups. As such, it was clear to me these last important details must be properly vetted before approving this very important, prominent and complex development proposal."

At Alderman Reilly's request, the Chicago Plan Commission is deferring consideration of the Wolf Point proposal to allow additional time for public input regarding the "bulk table" that dictates programming and uses for the site. Although the item is being deferred, the Alderman said he believes all other major issues related to the project have been resolved relating to: architecture, the site plan, public open space and traffic management. He said he believes the last unresolved issue is the "bulk table" that provides specifics related to the breakdown and location of residential, hotel and office use on the site.

"Our work on this proposal is nearly completed - thanks to exceptional community feedback over the past nine months, I believe we've made many positive changes to overall bulk, massing and infrastructure," Reilly explained. "The last unresolved item we must address is clarifying exactly how the three towers will be programmed with residential units, hotel rooms or commercial space. I look forward to working with the River North and Fulton River District neighborhood associations to resolve this last point of contention and then move forward with the best development possible for Wolf Point and River North."

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Imporant Update Regarding Revised Wolf Point Proposal

November 9, 2012

Dear Neighbor,

 

I am writing to update you on the significant progress we have made related to the Wolf Point development proposal. I want to thank everyone who has taken time out of their busy schedules to participate in our community process and those who have provided me with valuable feedback since our first Wolf Point community meeting last May.

 

Over the past six months, my office has spent long hours in dozens of meetings with the Developer and city infrastructure departments to negotiate significant (and costly) changes to the Wolf Point site plan and traffic study. As a result, we have secured firm commitments that provide meaningful public benefits for residents of the River North and Fulton River District neighborhoods; and all residents of downtown's 42nd Ward.

 

Following our initial community meeting in May, it became very clear that the primary concerns regarding this proposal were: traffic circulation and lack of public open (green) space. We all agree the original Wolf Point proposal fell woefully short on both fronts.

 

As a River North resident, I believe we are fortunate to live in the hottest, most sought-after mixed-use area in Chicago. As you know, when a neighborhood is popular and desirable - it attracts additional growth, investment and jobs. Most people would agree that, from an economic perspective, this is a wonderful problem for downtown Chicago to have; it's certainly a problem cities like Detroit or Cleveland would love to have today.

 

That said, continued economic development and growth in the Central Business District do come at a cost - chiefly increased traffic congestion, more density and less available land for important community amenities like public parks and open green space.

 

Since you first elected me Alderman in 2007, I have been keeping my promise to address traffic congestion by working closely with our city traffic engineers to identify creative traffic calming solutions to offset high-density projects. I have successfully negotiated with developers via the planned development process to maximize the addition of more publicly accessible open green space to our downtown neighborhoods.

 

As you may know, when I was working to secure a credible traffic analysis for the Wolf Point development proposal, I had to send the Developer (Hines) and their traffic consultant (KLOA) back to the drawing board five separate times to revise their traffic study. In addition, I insisted that the Developer's traffic consultant expand their traffic study to include all 12 intersections that surround the development site - doubling the size of the overall traffic study area that was initially proposed by KLOA.

 

Working with CDOT traffic engineers, I compiled a long list of traffic-related infrastructure improvements that will be important to help offset the impact of the proposed density for the Wolf Point site. I am very pleased to report that, as a result of our negotiations, Hines has agreed to fund 100% of the infrastructure improvements that were proposed by CDOT. This agreement includes an unprecedented amount of developer-funded infrastructure for new construction downtown, including:

  • Relocation of the Kinzie Bike Lane to Grand Avenue when construction begins
  • Eliminating all car and parking access from Kinzie Street - for all phases, immediately reducing traffic volumes on Kinzie with the start of construction
  • Installation of a new traffic signal at intersection of Kinzie and Kingsbury
  • Left turn arrow added for northbound to westbound turning vehicles at Orleans/Hubbard
  • Right turn arrow added for southbound to westbound turning vehicles at Wells/Mart Drive
  • Installation of countdown pedestrian signals at Kinzie and Kingsbury
  • Monitor signal timing and adjust green signal lengths at Orleans/Wacker
  • Left turn arrow for eastbound to northbound turning vehicles at upper Orleans/Mart Drive
  • Left turn arrow for northbound to westbound turning vehicles at upper Orleans/Mart Drive
  • Right turn arrow for southbound to westbound turning vehicles at upper Orleans/Mart Drive
  • All pavement marking, static and electrical signs, and signal modifications for Orleans counter-flow lane from Hubbard to Wolf Point Plaza Drive. (To view a site plan of how that lane would function, please click here.)
  • Study and work with neighboring property on the re-opening of the West Lateral Connector and improving service at West Access Drive

 

The second greatest area of concern raised by my constituents was the accessibility of publicly accessible open green space on the site. The Developer's initial submission included barely one acre of useable public green space. Following several months of intense negotiations, the amount of public open green space on the site has mushroomed to a full 78% of the site - approximately 2.6 acres of the buildable area.

 

In addition to expanding the sheer acreage of public open space; we also negotiated a number of improvements to the landscape features proposed for the site, including:

  • Increased total amount of riverbank park and open space to over 100,000 SF
  • Increased number and size of trees on site, focusing on native, historic species
  • Replaced parking ramp on west side of site with plantings and landscape
  • Removed the east garden "switchback" accessibility ramp and replaced it with landscaping, native plantings and more open green space  
  • Added more native planting areas to west park and east park
  • Significantly reduced the amount of hardscape and concrete on the Plaza
  • Added planter beds and landscaping in front of West tower, at West end of Plaza Drive, and at plaza level on South and East towers
  • Added landscaping and a grand staircase along west side of site
  • Revised the Riverwalk design to a cantilevered walkway system that shields the existing seawall and allows for natural river habitat and aesthetics.
  • Improved Phase I condition by adding landscaping elements, mature trees and a more complete upper plaza level as a part of the interim condition

Please note that many of the Chicago Park District's neighborhood parks are not nearly as large as the planted areas proposed in the Developer's revised plan. It is also important to note that Hines is not seeking any public subsidies to assist with the construction or on-going maintenance of the riverbank park open space or the Riverwalk. In order to offset some West Tower encroachments, the Developer has more than doubled what is required by city code for public, open green space.

 

In addition to the above issues, we have addressed other Riverwalk-related concerns that were raised during our ongoing community process or were submitted to me personally. As a result, the Developer has agreed to make these additional changes:

  • Added public restaurant space with public restrooms
  • Added  outdoor seating area to the base of East tower along the Riverwalk
  • Added public promenade and "lookout point" on upper plaza that will become a popular destination point for Chicago tourists and visitors
  • Added a Chicago Water Taxi stop adjacent to the Orleans Street Bridge
  • Added design elements to the Riverwalk and plaza that celebrate the historic significance and geographic importance of Wolf Point
  • Added more Riverwalk lighting to address valid public safety concerns
  • Moved the location of the NE stairway closer to the River's edge to increase its prominence, public visibility, and ease of access
  • Added more landscaping and opportunities for public art at entrance to NE stair  
  • Added landscaping elements to NW Riverwalk entry
  • Extended the Riverwalk to the edge of the property to improve transition from Wolf Point into the north neighbors' property at the NW Riverwalk entry

Following a full year of studies, analyses and lengthy negotiations in addition to the careful consideration of all the feedback my office has received, I believe we are now ready to proceed to the November Chicago Plan Commission for the required public hearing regarding the significantly revised Planned Development amendment proposal.

 

Thanks to your valuable feedback, the revised proposal is a far greener, far more compatible plan for our neighborhood. The fifth revision of the Developer's traffic study now contains: a credible, more accurate report of the current traffic conditions; better forecasts the effects of the density proposed for Wolf Point; and actionable solutions.

 

I am grateful to everyone who dedicated their personal time to review this proposal and provide me with important feedback regarding this very important, prominent site. Whenever I negotiate a planned development on your behalf, I always strive to secure as long a list of privately-funded community benefits and improvements as possible.

 

To date, the city infrastructure departments have approved the site plan pursuant to the final traffic study. To view this document, please click on the link.  If you wish to view a PDF of the last public presentation regarding Wolf Point from October 29th, please click here.

 

As additional documents are finalized as part of the application, I will post them on my website for your review.

 

Should you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact my office via e-mail at: alderman@ward42chicago.com or by phone at 312-744-3062.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Brendan Reilly

Alderman, 42nd Ward

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Documents available for download:

12-21-12:

Presentation from December 20, 2012 Community Meeting

Traffic Study from December 20, 2012

PD Application

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