Old Town Canvas Receives Height Increase As It Heads To City Council

Updated rendering of Old Town Canvas by GREC Architects

Updated details, including a height increase, have been revealed once again for ‘Old Town Canvas’ at 1610 N LaSalle Drive in Old Town. Located on the intersection with W North Avenue, the proposal has been in the works for nearly three-years and recently updated at a community meeting. The structure is being developed by Fern Hill with local design-firm GREC Architects.

PREVIOUS rendering for Old Town Canvas by GREC Architects

Part of a greater redevelopment which includes the parcels around the nearby Moody Church auditorium, the tower itself will replace the existing Walgreens and adjacent parking lot. The original proposal included a blue-toned facade meant to represent the colors of the lake, this was replaced by a new brown-tone gradient along with a brick podium that will reutilize the ornate lamps from the old Walgreens.

Updated rendering of Old Town Canvas by GREC Architects

Previous (left) – updated (right) rendering of Old Town Canvas by GREC Architects

Now after multiple complaints from surrounding neighbors on sightlines, mainly coming from one adjacent tower with a similar height, the proposal has been thinned out to reduce its footprint by 15-percent. However to keep the unit count the same, the tower has grown from 36 to 44 stories and from 395 to 480-feet in height, an increase of 85-feet according to Crain’s.

Previous (left) – updated (right) rendering of Old Town Canvas by GREC Architects

Inside would still be 500-residential units most likely made up of studios, one-, two-bedroom layouts. Of these 100, or 20-percent, will be considered affordable, bringing much needed housing and affordability to the popular neighborhood. The podium itself will contain a 450-vehicle parking garage, split between 300 for Moody Church and 150 for the building’s residents.

Rendering of Treasure Island redevelopment by GREC Architects

The ground floor will eventually see a relocated Walgreens along with an additional retail space, with the adjacent Treasure Island building being redeveloped to temporarily hold the Walgreens and a market. With an overall cost between $200 to $300 million, the developer plans to submit the revised plans to City Council later this week. However at the moment a construction timeline is unknown.

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31 Comments on "Old Town Canvas Receives Height Increase As It Heads To City Council"

  1. This is BS!! How are we to segregate the classes when developers keep proposing better land uses that enable mixed-income/affordable housing to share the bountiful resources packed along the North Side? Don’t they know these areas are reserved purely for the elites? Real Chicagoans aren’t supposed to live here too. This is second+ home territory; investment opportunities some may say.

    Hot damn I hope the added height sails through with flying colors.

  2. The taller scheme is the better approach architecturally and urbanistically.

    • Truth Be Told | March 19, 2024 at 8:16 am | Reply

      jsarhitekt, how so urbanistically? The footprint of the project is exactly the same. The number of doors on the sidewalk are the same. The locations of those doors are exactly what they were.

      • It is better urbanistically from a massing standpoint. A taller, thinner tower increases light, views and vistas past the tower for the surrounding buildings.

  3. Both are good options – but I prefer the new one! Is this a rare instance where community input helped?

    • Almost, a 450 vehicle garage, 350 for a church, is as elitist and privileged as it comes. This should be 150 spaces or less. There are plenty of places to park cars on the street and in other building garages all around the area. You may need to walk a block or two.

      • Chill out on this one. Let the church have its spots. They had the ability to never let this development happen in the first place and they are the rightful owner of the property.

        You can be upset on how religious landownership is a crooked system in this country, but this isn’t the project to soapbox that flaw. The ones to be upset with are the ones defending a gas station as a means to keep the community “safer.”

        • Yeah but adding tons of cars to dense cities like NYC or Chicago reduces quality of life

        • I can see your point, but I still disagree. This and the gas station defense are both signs of the hollowing out of Chicago which does not come for free. These spaces don’t produce any additional tax revenue. 450 vehicles take up A LOT of precious urban space that will exist instead of housing, so that some church members can sometimes park their cars.

  4. thrilled to see at least some alderman finally start embracing the reality that taller, thinner towers are the only effective answer to complaints about view disruption. that said, i wish this proposal included a mid-or-high-rise structure on the old treasure island site. the zoning maps need to be revised to allow more residential density in areas where there is easy access to public goods like lincoln park and the lakefront. low rise structures in this areas are massive lost opportunities in terms of foregone tax revenue for the city.

  5. There was no community input. The neighborhood is a historical, landmarked neighborhood. Generations of people have lived here including every socioeconomic level. This is nothing but a land grab by a developer and investors who’ll make themselves rich. Don’t be fooled. It’s obvious none of you know or understand the neighborhood.

    • Hey Cate! There were multiple rounds of community input from questionnaires to in-person meetings. This tower isn’t any more of a land grab than any of the surrounding high-rises including the adjacent 1660 condominiums with 492-units. Americana Tower with 419, and Eugenie Terrace with 575-units, all similar heights as well.

    • Hey Cate. There was alot of poorly veiled racist criticisms. But little held any weight. As someone who knows this neighborhood quite well, I’m happy for this. This area is due for a transformation and much needed housing. Hopefully those gas stations that are an eye sore and bring crime are made into high rises next.

    • But who are they grabbing the land from? What else would such a small footprint be used for? The world’s smallest park? An aquarium? A dog toilet?

    • It is a historical, landmarked neighborhood. But not that Walgreens, abandoned Treasure Island and rough looking parking lot. That’s doing nothing for the historical aesthetic. There was community input. I let the alderman know that I’m in favor of the project.

      • The Walgreens was designed by Stanley Tigerman. So it’s notable.

        • yes, Walgreens – one of the great works by one of the great architects of Chicago history, I say in jest….only his houses were worse. (that said, he was always nice to me).

    • How DARE the evil developers try to build a building on our super duper historical vacant parking lots and abandoned grocery store!

    • Oh for sure Lincoln Park is historical, but the residents of Lincoln park are by no means saints when it comes to redevelopment of their neighborhood, and no strangers to redevelopment themselves. You should read the Battle of Lincoln Park by Daniel Key Hertz. Todays residents look nothing like the people who resided in the neighborhood before, and to get there all it took was demolishing half of North avenue, nearly every building on Larrabee, and an entire Puerto Rican neighborhood where Oz Park stands now. I’m sure the neighbors in Lincoln Park can handle one more building, especially one replacing vacant lots and low rise retail

  6. People need to be reminded that they don’t own a view. If they don’t own the air rights over a property, they shouldn’t get to limit another building’s height.

  7. I read, “Old Town Canvas Receives Height Increase As It Heads To City Council” a few too many times before my brain registered what my eyes were seeing…

  8. Hysterical. Fern Hill presentations are not community meetings. Racist criticism? Hmmm that’s a strange observation. You all know there are empty buildings across the neighborhood right? Why aren’t they developing there? Profit! That is why. The developer will make millions of dollars on this development. This is nothing but a land grab and it will include outrageous rents for 400 people and lots of money for investors. Please don’t be fooled by this. Unless you work for the developer, please don’t be fooled by this.

    • You missed all those people with white sheets, hoods and carrying burning crosses at the community input meetings?

    • Who is grabbing whose land? Do you own the land? If you don’t own the land, and you are trying to stop the owner from building an apartment building, aren’t you the one grabbing the land?

    • Your observation that a developer is only pursuing profitable projects is evidence of… what, exactly? I’m really not sure what your criticism is. Are you suggesting that the project is objectionable simply because someone might turn a profit? If so, I’m afraid I’ve got some distressing news for you about the structure of the American economy.

      And what makes it a “land grab”? The developer presumably struck a deal with the church and the other property owners to buy their properties at a mutually agreed price.

      And who exactly is being fooled, and what are they being tricked into believing? I don’t think anyone is confused about what’s being proposed.

      The fact that “people have lived here for generations” is true of every part of the city, and this block is NOT landmarked or a registered historic district. Ultimately what you’re suggesting is that two gas stations and a parking lot would be better than housing in the location. Sounds like a NIMBY to me.

  9. TheKitchenSink | March 20, 2024 at 7:53 am | Reply

    Yes Cate, this project is being built to make a profit. Just like how your house/apartment was built to make a profit.

    Stop being greedy Cate, let other people have a place to live.

  10. Oh NO!!! Fern Hill should be cutting the building size, scale and density. Instead, greedy developer is making a giant white elephant against strong community opposition with Building that doesn’t fit in historic community. 480 ft building would be among top 50 Tallest Residential buildings in Chicago. And north of Division St, where is there a taller building???
    Old Town isn’t Downtown or Manhattan, what are you thinking greedy developer? Look at Old Town, every single high-rise building in our community and beyond – from Division through Fullerton – except one- were built over 50 years ago. That one exception – 36 years ago in 1988 – was a political real estate cram down on the community despite strong opposition. This proposed Building is too big with too much density, in on too small a property (that’s why they had to make it skinnier), and greedy developer want even higher rents using Old Town’s last underdeveloped lakefront space instead of building at other locations. Greedy developer picked our already most congested, severe traffic intersection to build a massive Tower making our traffic congestion a disaster. And why is greedy developer giving away 300 parking spaces plus the 2 gas stations as payoff to Moody Church?

  11. So we are still going to be stuck with the Shell at the NW corner of LaSalle and North?

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