Wanda Vista construction plan

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.


Traffic impact (click to enlarge).

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 questions@magellandevelopment.com. Questions and answers will be posted on McHugh’s web site at McHughconstruction.com/projects.

— Shanti Nagarkatti

New Eastside realtor making a splash

Long-time New Eastside resident Michael Emery, senior partner with Urban Real Estate, is no stranger to the industry – which is why his expertise was tapped in January 2015 to serve on the local Multiple Listing Service’s (MLS) board of managers, Midwest Real Estate Data.

A twelve-year seasoned broker, with years in client relations prior, Michael’s role on the board has several responsibilities.  Among them, ensuring real estate brokers are effective in representing and marketing their clients’ listings, as well as creating guidelines for mandatory information collected, to help accurately price homes presented for sale.


Michael Emery

In addition, Michael and his board peers are equally engaged in the very best way to serve the consumer – and specifically, how to present information that is accurate, updated as frequently as technology allows, offering a user-friendly interface regardless of which brokerage’s website you are searching.

“It is imperative that consumers across Chicago and the suburbs we serve have the very best data in their hands to help inform their choices.  We know the vast majority of homebuyers begin their search online before connecting with a REALTOR®, and therefore they should have as much accurate information as possible,” Emery adds.  “We, as brokers, know the stories of neighborhoods and buildings that professionals learn over time; It is immensely gratifying to be able to help clients be as informed as possible when they are making one of the largest investments in their lifetime.”

This year, Michael was also again recognized as “Who’s Who” by trade magazine Chicago Agent.  Michael couldn’t be prouder to have his home and Urban’s office in the New Eastside (and in the same building at 400 E. Randolph, to be exact!) With his wife Amanda, the couple has made our community home for years to come.

To connect with Michael, email him at Michael@urbanre.com or call (312) 528-9288.

First-time homebuyer education

Chicago’s diversity in culture, ethnicity, and socio-economic background brings opportunity for new business ventures to our great city. Knowing the nuance of the American process, especially as an expatriate, however, has a prevalent learning curve, as Urban Real Estate broker Justin Oliver, an expatriate himself, discovered.

Oliver sold real estate in London before moving to Chicago in 2008. In his quest to make new friends and connect with fellow expatriates, he noticed that many of his newly-transitioned peers were daunted by the American homebuying and lending process. “A flat in London, for example, is different to a condo here.

In London. you buy the right to live in the unit for a given length of time, up to 999 years, but not the deeded ownership,” Oliver notes. “An American condo offers that deeded ownership. There are many differences in terminology used between the two systems; knowing the jargon used is critical for clients.”

house-for-sale-clip-artSpearheading this initiative, Oliver, along with Urban, offers an informative program for British expatriates, and other audiences across the city, taking apart every component of homebuying, helping foreign nationals and locals, alike, understand what they are buying, and how to determine the property right for them.

The program has been so well-received, that Oliver and the Urban team now bring this, and other homebuyer and financing education as part of a series it hosts at venues across the city including homeowner associations who wish to offer real estate-related education for its residents. “It’s a tremendous responsibility to own a home – our goal is to offer quality consumer education to help make prospective buyers, sellers and investors as aware of the marketplace as possible,” says Oliver. “It’s what being Urban is all about.”

To attend a session, or to schedule one for your group, email Justin at Justin@urbanre.com or phone Urban at (312) 528-9200 or visit www.UrbanRealEstate.com.

Skyscraper update: Wanda Tower

42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilley hosted a community meeting about the Wanda Tower proposed for 381-383 E. Wacker Dr. in late October.

The Magellan Development Group was on hand to update neighborhood residents on the status of the project.

WANDA001-01The most notable details of Magellan’s presentation included:

1. a proposal to increase the height of one building and decrease the height of another;

2. a proposal to connect E. Waterside Dr. to E. Wacker Drive via what appears to be a right-angled, s-type curve that goes directly through Wanda;

3. a bullet point emphasizing “no increase to overall Lakeshore East density.”

Changes implemented by Magellan since the last community meeting include new landscaping and plans to increase lighting and improve the entrance to the automobile impound lot.

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