There were no questions allowed at a July 19 community presentation regarding construction plans for the supertall Vista skyscraper because Alderman Brendan Riley requested that all questions must be submitted in writing.
Hundreds of New Eastside neighbors who may be directly impacted by the construction zone attended the meeting at the Radisson Blu hoping to speak. Instead, the event — which was hosted by Magellan Development Group, McHugh Construction, and Alderman Riley’s office — featured a presentation of the construction schedule.
The Alderman did not attend and several neighbors expressed frustration at not being able to ask questions in person. “It should be important enough for the Alderman to have shown up. We should have an opportunity to ask questions at the end,” said one guest.
“We’re honoring the Alderman’s request to have all questions in writing. This is not a normal part of the process,” said Magellan President David Carlins. “This is a three-and-a-half to four year construction period so things will come up along the way and we want to make sure that we’re meeting everyone’s concerns. It’s good that so many of our neighbors are here,” he said.
The 93-story building at 375 E. Wacker Drive includes a 192-room, five star hotel; 406 luxury condominium residences; and 345 parking spaces. The development team is Chicago-based Magellan Development in a joint venture with Dalian Wanda Development, the largest real estate developer in China. James McHugh Construction Company is the general contractor.
Carlins indicated that Magellan and McHugh representatives are available to present to properties in the New Eastside, stating, “We’re happy to meet with each building and take as much time as needed.” Work will take place from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm each day and “neighbors can expect a clean and safe job site,” said David Alexander, a senior vice president at McHugh.
The project is expected to start “in earnest” this August with foundation work, according to Alexander. Structure construction is scheduled for April 2017 to January 2019. Construction will culminate in three condos at the top of the building in April 2020.
The megaproject will result in various traffic impacts and street closures in the years ahead. The left turning lane at the intersection of Columbus Drive and Upper Wacker Drive will be closed for the project’s duration.
Additionally, plans call for the demolition and reconstruction of a portion of the bridge on Wacker Drive beginning in August and ending around summer 2019.
Roadways and walkways on Waterside Drive will stay open, except for the area directly south of the Vista Tower and between the Tides and Shoreham. “When the project is finished, there will be a roadway where you can get from Water Street and Wacker Drive directly to Waterside Drive,” said Alexander.
The section of Lower Field Boulevard that currently connects to Lower Wacker Drive will be closed to traffic. The Tides and Shoreham garages will remain open, with a U-turn on Lower Field Boulevard for traffic to enter and exit the garages.
Beginning in August, pedestrian access to the Riverwalk via Lower Field Boulevard will be closed. During the closure, neighbors will have two other options to reach the Riverwalk and the lakefront, said Alexander.
The first option is ADA accessible and involves taking the service drive, a pathway underneath Lake Shore Drive, either to the harbor or to the Riverfront. “A sidewalk will be added to the service drive for additional safety,” he said. The second option is to take the elevator in the northwest corner of the Park to the upper level, cross Wacker, and go back down the stairs.
Occasional lane closures will occur on Middle Wacker Drive to “facilitate the bridge overhead when we’re doing demolition and erecting steel,” he said. The closures are mandated by the Chicago Department of Transportation.
Presentation slides detailing the planned street closures are posted on McHugh’s web site.
Direct any questions to Magellan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions and answers will be posted on McHugh’s web site at McHughconstruction.com/projects.
— Shanti Nagarkatti