The Chicago City Council has approved a 47-story mixed-use tower, located at 640 W Washington Boulevard in West Loop Gate. The site is located along W Washington Boulevard, bound by the Kennedy Expressway to the west, W Court Place to the north, and N Des Plaines Street to the east. The new development will replace an existing surface parking lot. Crescent Heights is the developer behind the project.
Designed by Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, the new development will consist of a slender 47-story tower rising 515 feet. The ground floor will yield 8,000 square feet of retail space while the vertical portion of the design will hold 413 residential units. Additionally, 221 bike parking spaces and 137 vehicle parking spaces will be provided for residents.
The design pushes the tower portion to the west side of the site, furthering the canyon effect along the Kennedy Expressway. The thin, rectangular massing orients its long face along the expressway, with the narrow elevations facing north and south. The expression of the facade uses a combination of references to the brick masonry construction of the historic West Loop and the glass office towers of The Loop. There are three residential zones of the building stacked vertically, with a different facade and massing articulation for each one. All four elevations of the structure are treated with the same materials, designing the structure to be viewed from all sides.
A three-story podium occupies the entire site, holding retail, amenity space, and parking. The podium reflects its surroundings, with the third-floor frame matching the height of the neighboring podium. The second floor is an enclosed parking deck while the third floor is an amenity deck for residents. Amenities include indoor and outdoor common areas, a dog run, a lawn, an outdoor games space, and fitness space. A pool deck is located on the top floor of the tower.
Retail space fronts W Washington Boulevard while anchoring the corner at the intersection W Washington Boulevard and N Desplaines Street. Access to residential amenities is available along N Desplaines Street, activating the podium base along that streetscape. The residential entry is located below the tower, at the westernmost end of the building along W Washington Boulevard.
An internal auto court splits the site between the residential entry and retail spaces. The porte cochere is designed to prioritize pedestrians while allowing for the flow of car traffic. The design gives the space a tall ceiling height for ample visibility and light, includes canopies to protect pedestrians from weather, demarcates vehicle space versus pedestrian space and uses bollards for safety. A pedestrian walkway along the western edge of the site connects W Washington Boulevard with W Court Place.
The development will meet sustainability requirements by exceeding the energy code, exceeding the stormwater ordinance, reducing indoor water use, providing EV charging stations, planting new trees, topping the building with green roofs, providing bike parking, being within proximity to transit, and ensuring 80 percent diversion of construction waste.
There will be 41 affordable housing units as required for the scope of the development. Ten of those will be included within the building, with a unit mix consisting of four studios, three one-bedrooms, and three two-bedrooms, all available at 60 percent of the Area Median Income. A $5.8 million fee will be paid in lieu for the remaining units.
The developers are seeking to rezone the property from DX-7 to a Planned Development, and will pay approximately $3.7 million into the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund for a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) bonus of 4.5, to achieve an 11.5 FAR. The project also received approvals from the Zoning Committee and the Chicago Plan Commission, with the City Council vote as the final procedural hurdle for the plan. An official timeline for the development has not been established.
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This project is certainly promising. Nice massing, and a handsome tower make this a plus for the neighborhood.