Reilly nixes Spire for now over community concerns

Staff reports

After months of speculation, Chicago Alderman Brendan Reilly rejected the 400 N. Lake Shore Drive development, also known as the Spire Site.

In late October, Reilly announced that he would reject the proposal after the developers failed to consider any community concerns. This is a setback for a development that has been in the works for over a decade, but it does not mean the project is dead.

“As you know, I joined with SOAR to host a community meeting on May 15 to review the developer’s proposal,” Reilly wrote in an email to constituents. “The meeting was very well attended and we received a tremendous amount of community feedback. My staff catalogued all of the community input from that meeting and we created a list of priority issues that needed to be addressed during my negotiation process with the developer.”

Reilly said he sent the developer a “detailed memo” in August enumerating community concerns, and that their reply did not address any of those issues.


“Unfortunately, several weeks later, Related Midwest provided me with a response that did not adequately address any of the major concerns about their proposal,” he wrote.

Reilly said the community had concerns about the hotel use, the tall podium base of the buildings, traffic concerns and security concerns along the Riverwalk and at DuSable Park.

However, the alderman said the project is not dead because Related Midwest may still address the issues at some point in the future, allowing development to move forward.

“In the event the developer chooses to address the legitimate concerns regarding their proposal, my office will be sure to provide all impacted neighbors with an update,” he said.

Reilly then listed exactly what must be addressed.

  • Access to the site via East North Water Street must be significantly restricted
  • Proposed hotel use should be eliminated
  • Podium height and bulk must be reduced
  • Make greater use of the Lake Shore Drive access ramp system and below grade parking system to manage deliveries, services vehicles and pick-up/drop-offs.
  • Developer must assemble a security plan for the Riverwalk and DuSable Park
  • Elimination of the proposed Ogden Slip Public Esplanade


Reilly announces updates to Parcel O plans

Staff report

In late September, Alderman Brendan Reilly announced that Magellan Development agreed to work a number of public improvements into their project at 193 North Columbus Drive, commonly known as Parcel O.

The public improvements came from a public meeting held with the New Eastside Association of Residents (NEAR) in July. Reilly pointed out that the development group did not need to agree to any public improvements by law, but they agreed to build the improvements after extensive negotiations with Reilly. In a recent newsletter, Reilly credited the public support for the public improvements with the success of the negotiations.

Magellan will pay for the improvements, which are expected to aid pedestrian and traffic safety.

The proposed improvements include a pedway connection through Village Market and Blue Cross/Blue Shield to the greater pedway, improved lighting, public elevators servicing the 3 levels of Columbus Dr., as well as numerous improvements for pedestrians and vehicles.

Some of those improvements include:
•    A new traffic signal will be installed at Upper Columbus and East South Water Street.
•    At the intersection of Upper Columbus Drive and South Water Street, the crosswalk will be realigned on the south leg of the intersection. The east end of the crosswalk will move to the corner next to the Aqua building rather than the corner next to the fire station.
•    At the intersection of Upper Columbus Drive and South Water Street, a curb bump-out on the southwest corner will be installed to narrow the roadway and pedestrian crossing distance on Columbus Drive.

Reilly said the project must get Lakefront Protection Approval from the Chicago Plan Commission, and when that vote occurs, Reilly will announce it in his newsletter.

New development plans revealed for former Chicago Spire site

The proposed 400 Lake Shore Dr. development consists of two towers rising at the former Chicago Spire site. Rendering courtesy of Related Midwest

By B. David Zarley | Staff Writer

The development plan for 400 Lake Shore Drive—a parcel of land originally slated for the ill-fated Chicago Spire—was revealed to a packed ballroom at the Sheraton Grand Chicago Hotel on May 15.

Alderman Brendan Reilly and community group SOAR hosted representatives from developer Related Midwest, architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and engineering consultants Kimley-Horn and Associates, who detailed what the
alderman called an “ambitious” plan.

“This is one of the most prominent sites in the Chicago skyline,” Reilly told the crowd. “What you are going to see here tonight is a very ambitious proposal. There are a lot of moving parts that we are still negotiating as we speak.”

No longer a 2,000 foot spire, the new development will be designed by the firm behind iconic Chicago buildings like the John Hancock Center and the Willis Tower.

The design will include a pair of residential towers that are staggered in height— the tallest topping out at 1,100 feet and its counterpart at 850 feet. They will be offset from each other and angle outwards to open up as the river empties into Lake Michigan. Fronted with terracotta, they will echo elegant, older buildings like the Wrigley.

“You look at it from the lake and you see these two forms … opening up as a gateway to the city,” said David Childs, the consulting design partner at SOM. A large courtyard will sit between the two.

The taller building will consist of condos and a boutique hotel on the lower levels, and the shorter building, containing rental units, will be flanked by a pair of pedestrian pathways which will allow access to DuSable Park.

Related Midwest’s proposal promises to build a long awaited park in the area and dedicate $10 million to the endeavor. They hope to complete this part of the project after the buildings are finished, since the park plot will be used as a staging area during construction.

Further community benefits in the proposal include the completion of Founder’s Way and the Ogden Slip walkway, and roughly five acres of new, public green space throughout the development. The developer will also pledge $2.67 million dollars for the creation of affordable housing.

Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest, expressed gratitude for the community’s cooperation with the project. “All of you showing up tonight, thank you,” Bailey said, “This process makes the project better and makes us better.”

Reilly encouraged his constituents to contact him with questions or concerns. His office plans on sorting through residents’ feedback over the next few weeks before negotiations begin.

Email the 42nd Ward office at or call (312) 642-4242.

Published June 4, 2018