Coming in at #12 in Chicago’s tallest construction projects is 868 N Wells Street, a 27-story mixed-use building in Near North Side. The tower is the second addition to JDL‘s North Union megadevelopment. This expansive $1.3 billion masterplan encompasses a total of 2.9 million square feet of space, 2,656 residences, a multitude of commercial units, and 100,000 square feet of public areas.
Situated at 868 N Wells Street, the glass structure designed by Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture will feature 428 residential units, as well as 12,000 square feet of retail. The 20th floor will have a north-facing setback, providing private terrace space and creating a tapering effect. Additionally, an inset amenity penthouse and a spacious rooftop deck will be included on the structure’s uppermost level.
The 305-foot-tall structure, much like its topped-out neghbor at 920 N Wells Street, is set to be constructed with a hexagonal floor plate. It will be clad in a combination of floor-to-ceiling windows and white metal accents, giving it a modern aesthetic.
The project is located in the midst of various transportation options. Within a two-minute walk, multiple Divvy bike stations are available, while bus service for Routes 22, 37, 66, 70, and 156 can be reached within a 10-minute walk. Furthermore, Chicago station, which provides Brown and Purple Lines service for the CTA, is accessible via a six-minute walk south from the southwest corner of 868 N Wells Street. Additionally, Red Line service can be found at the second Chicago station, via an 11-minute walk southeast of the project.
Power Construction is serving as general contractor, with a completion on target for late next year. Completion for North Union as a whole is now on track for 2026.
Countdown Comparison Corner (Spot #12)
The 12th place New York counterpart to 868 N Wells is 27-48 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, which is poised to be the borough’s tallest building at 811 feet. Primarily residential, the 69-story edifice is being developed by Building Orchard LLC and designed by Perkins Eastman.
There will be a total of 818 units, with 11,700 square feet of ground-floor retail. Triton Construction Company is carrying out the work, and completion is expected by 2026.
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Pre-2008 recession that NY building is almost exactly what you’d expect for a larger scale Chicago condo/mixed-use proposal. Today you’d have to cut it in half and you have 369 W. Grand, Old-Town Park etc. Back then 800′ wasn’t considered very tall for this city and it would certainly be approved without hesitation. Today there’d be 50 community meetings and at least two height-cuts along with a redesign that would last a few years at which point it may never break-ground.
Thanks for these comparisons, it really illustrates what a lot of us have been saying about Chicago losing its ambition to remain at the forefront of modern architecture. Our most impactful towers are essentially filler in New York today. This reality was unimaginable even 10 years ago. They’ve gone on to stamp over a dozen new landmark towers on the skyline while we put up walls of budget-boxes.
And of the 4 shown in the graphic (for NYC) only one is being built in Manhattan, while 2 are being built in Queens and the 3rd (which is actually two towers on a single podium) is going up in New Jersey!
Agree on a lot of points, but can’t look past the fact that the area of land where developers would even put a high rise in Chicago has grown a lot since 2008. While it’s just starting to see 600′ proposals, West Loop seems to have siphoned off a fair amount of development from the sub-markets that were hot pre-2008 and could demand higher views, but low-rise neighborhoods with blank slates and big industrial footprints mean a lot of that new supply will be delivered in shorter towers (for now).
Unfortunately, developments along the north and south branches of the river may cause a similar effect, but that’s the down side of having so much developable land and relatively low immigration. The amount of skyscrapers here is really an anomaly to begin with. Most places with as many and as tall of towers as Chicago are more geographically constrained (New York, Hong Kong) or propped up by the gov’t (Chinese cities, Dubai). Toronto is really the only good geographical comparison, but even their development has taken a different path (multi-nodal) in the last several decades, largely due to immigration. Chicago got very far on relatively modest geographical & man-made constraints… likely the sheer population explosion in the early 20th century and a determination to rival NYC in the city’s own invention.
UnionMade, Hopefully it’ll change with a new mayor. This is definitely a rare example of a project worth Chicago.
Actually, the Mayor has done a lot to improve the chances that additions to the built environment are better than what has come in the past:
— Her appointment of Maurice Cox has finally put someone in the planning department who thinks that faux wrought iron fencing equals good design.
–Cox established the Committee on Design to review building projects and provide specifics on what profit-driven foolishness needs to be dialed back in favor of pedestrians/people of Chicago.
–The first executive order she signed hours after being sworn in as mayor ended the practice of aldermanic prerogative. The alderman can still put up barriers up to slow a project, but it is a lot harder than it used to be.
No one is all-powerful, not even the Mayor of Chicago in Chicago, and there are duds that still get built, but I don’t think you can lay the blame on the mayor.
Don’t know if some YIMBY commenters here have a political ax to grind with the Mayor, and I don’t care. Sticking to the topic of this website.
Thank for you this! I say this all the time. No mayor is the perfect end all be all, but she’s done a lot to standardize quality in the process
*who does NOT think wrought iron is . . . ” I’m assuming that people caught on that I missed the NOT, but just making sure.
The real problem is that the alderman of most of the Loop, Streeterville and River North is a damn NIMBY tyrant who hates development. Get rid of Reilly and I guarantee we start to see more ambitious projects. Alderman Burnett in the West Loop has been amazing and he’s the reason why that area has grown so much in such a short period.
New York has the money and the population to build all those new landmark towers. Chicago simply doesn’t, regardless of ambition or who the mayor is.
The NYC equivalent to this tower is ugly, just saying. Yes it’s way taller, and yes 828 n wells is no Zaha Hadid masterpiece, but with the open park element and timber building going next door, this is empirically a nicer use of space. It’s not tall, but it’s good. I love tall buildings, but I also love good place making.
868 N wells** sorry for the typo