PROPOSAL: 125 W. MAPLE ST.

Developer responses to community questions and comments
 

At my request, the Fifield Group prepared responses to questions asked by residents in the Zoom Meeting RSVP and/or during the Zoom Meeting itself, regarding the proposed development at 125 W. Maple / 1039 N. LaSalle St.

 

With many questions or comments pertaining to similar or same ideas, the development team organized their responses into one of fifteen categories. All of the developer's responses can be viewed below. You may also jump to a specific section in the table by clicking on a section specific link below.

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Alley

Can the public alley accommodate the parking access and north/south traffic flow?

Yes. The alley is fully capable of handling the slight increase in vehicular traffic.  Based on the results of traffic counts our traffic consultant conducted, the alley carries a low volume of traffic.

Additionally, the intersections of Maple Street and Oak Street at the alley will operate at or above design standards during peak hours.

Can the 20’ wide alley accommodate the traffic, including moving vans?

The 20’ wide alley is already wider than your typical Chicago alley, which is usually 16’ in width. We will also relocate existing utility poles to expand usable alley width while our on-site, interior loading bay ensures residential move in and outs will have minimal impact to the alley.

 

Why was the garage located in the alley, versus on Maple or LaSalle Streets? Won’t that lead to more congestion in the alley?

Chicago is unique among large cities as we have dedicated alleys on most blocks that provide added resources for parking and waste removal operations access.  

Accordingly, CDOT policy guidelines are for garage access and loading via the alley as it allows the building to reduce congestion on streets as vehicles accessing the parking/loading will not intersperse with regular vehicular traffic.

 

Height / Density

We generally received questions and comments regarding the following items in the survey:

 

What City of Chicago regulations govern height and density for proposals such as this?

This site falls within the City’s expanded Downtown Area that supports the Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus Fund system, which encourages added height and density in return for critical financial contributions into the City’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, portions of which benefit under-served communities throughout Chicago and line up with Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South / West Initiative.

Importantly, the proposal will allow a contribution of $5.7 million into this critical fund. This revenue will be utilized to bolster communities in need throughout the City and have seen a lack of investment over the past several decades.

 

Is the height normal for the community?

This proposal is in line with the surrounding community. The context of the surrounding community is relevant, being in downtown Chicago where height is a feature of the urban landscape. Our proposal is compatible with the neighborhood, with many nearby structures in the same height range. 

 

What buildings of similar height and density are in the community?

Being in downtown Chicago, the surrounding landscape is dotted with buildings containing similar height and density. Prominent examples in the surrounding neighborhood include but are not limited to 228 W. Hill Street, 202 W. Hill Street, 2 E. Oak Street, and 1122 N. Clark Street.

 

Can the footprint of the proposed building accommodate the proposed density?

High rise residential towers have “floor plates” generally between 8,000 square feet and 15,000 square feet – our proposal falls neatly into this range.

 

Views / Light / Air

 

Will this proposal block my view (commonly referred to as “light and air” as the zoning code does not incorporate views in zoning decisions)?

Some views will be blocked. As this proposal is in downtown Chicago and falls within the expanded Downtown Area, encouraging increased height and density in return for increased funding to be allocated to neighborhoods lacking investment, it is unavoidable that some views will be blocked, in a manner similar to when existing high-rises were constructed.

 

Will this proposal lead to reduced privacy? 

Fifield Cos places roller shades in every unit, which provide appropriate privacy.

 

The building is too close to 111 W Maple. 

Density is a feature of the urban landscape and as is often the case in dense areas of the city, adjacent buildings are situated in close proximity.  There are many examples of this throughout the city, including alleys adjacent to the following addresses that fall in close proximity to the proposed redevelopment:

810 N Clark Street (Bush Temple Apartments): 20-foot-wide alley

653 N Kingsbury Street (Kingsbury on the Park): 20-foot-wide alley

421 W Huron Street (Huron Point Condos): 15-foot-wide alley

4 E Elm Street (4 E Elm Condos): 15-foot-wide alley

 

Property Values / Residential Compensation for 111 W Maple

 

Will this proposal negatively impact my property values?

To the contrary, density and property values are directly correlated. Downtown Chicago (typically seen as including the 60654, 60610, 60611, 60601 and 60602 zip codes) contain the largest number of high rises as well as units with among the highest property values in the City.

Also, importantly, this proposal will also generate an additional $2 million in annual property tax revenue to bolster the City’s depleted fiscal reserves. In effect, this increase in property tax revenue will also result in lessening the tax burden on existing property taxpayers in the community.

 

Will I be compensated by the developer should this proposal be constructed next to my building?

No. Compensation or other payments to nearby individual unit owners is not a part of the City of Chicago zoning process. As the City has a stringent zoning code, it requires developers to go through a rigorous and lengthy approval process to ensure they adhere to zoning standards, none of which require financial compensation to adjacent neighbors. 

 

Project Location

Why was this location chosen when there are other parking lots in the Gold Coast that could be developed?

This site is a strong location to be redeveloped, being near strong cultural attractions, high-quality grocery stores and located between two (2) CTA Red Line Stations.

 

Why is this proposal located off a “side” street like Maple Street?

Many buildings in downtown Chicago – particularly in the Gold Coast - can be located on a “side” street such as Maple. The 32-story building immediately to the east of the proposal is one such structure, with other nearby examples including tall buildings at the intersections of Clark Street and Maple Street, Clark and Elm Streets and Clark and Chestnut Streets.  Further, the ground floor layout is optimized, including maximizing the retail area, with the residential entrance on Maple. 

 

Affordable Housing

Will there be affordable housing on-site? Will these units meet the standards of the municipal ordinance?

Yes – we will have 11 on-site affordable units within the building, per the requirements of the municipal code.

We are contributing $5.5 million towards the City of Chicago’s Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund that requires developers of residential properties to pay fees for units they have opted out of constructing on site (known as “in lieu” fees) to support affordable housing opportunities throughout the City.

Importantly, half of the $5.5 million payment will be distributed to the Chicago Low Income Housing Trust Fund, helping meet the needs of nearly 3,000 low-income residents through annual rental subsidies.

 

What types of units will these affordable units be?

These units will be a proportionate mix of studio, 1-bedroom, and 2-bedroom units as mandated by the Chicago Municipal Code.

 

Congestion / Parking / Public Transit / Transportation

 

Will there be a circle drive or other device to handle the “rideshare” or delivery truck traffic such as Amazon, FedEx and UPS, among others?

 Yes – we will have a 45’ standing zone on Maple Street allowing adequate space for these vehicles to temporarily use as they gather customers or drop off deliveries.

 

How can the building hold this few parking spaces?

This is a Transit-Oriented Development. A TOD allows proposals located near public transit stations to host a reduced parking requirement as there are alternative transportation modes in close proximity. The area is further well-served by public transit and ride-share services including Lyft and Uber to further mitigate the need for excessive on-site parking.

 

We have also seen a consistent decrease in car use over the prior few years, as many city residents opt-out of owning vehicles.  The building’s parking ratio is consistent with the parking utilization and proportion of residents that report driving to work at the project’s “sister” building, the Sinclair, located two blocks north.

 

Will there be on-site bike parking spaces within the building?

Yes – the building will include a bike room for approximately 200 bikes.

 

Can Maple Street absorb the proposal’s vehicular traffic?

The preliminary traffic study revealed low daily alley traffic volume, with the proposal increasing vehicle movements by 1.5 cars per minute during peak hours, having a negligible increase in on-street traffic.

 

Further, the intersections of LaSalle and Maple Streets as well as Clark and Maple Streets are projected to continue operating at or above design standards after completion of the project.

 

Will the CTA add extra service to accommodate the hundreds of new residents?

CTA is part of the planning process and monitors new development in an effort to add capacity as necessary.  It should be noted that this site is one of the best transit-served communities in the entire City. There are multiple daily bus routes operating near the building, including several stops on LaSalle Street alone, as well as two Red Line stations within a few blocks walk. These transit options service several tens of thousands of daily public transit customers.  

 

Zoning

Will this proposal require a zoning change?

Yes; the proposal requires a re-zoning to a planned development with an underlying downtown district designation, which is required due to the extension of the Downtown Area by the City in 2016. Such zoning changes are common for new proposals and permitted under the Zoning Ordinance.

 

What are “air rights” and how can they be used or sold?

“Air rights” are a technical zoning term describing the unused floor area that could be built on a specific lot per the Zoning Ordinance but not being utilized. Air rights are frequently available in buildings that are historically significant, such as the Cathedral, and in situations where it is unlikely that the building will ever be torn down or the site redeveloped with a project of scale in the future.

 

It allows for long-term and more comprehensive planning of both parcels and allows for the preservation of the older building. The sale of air rights is a common occurrence in Chicago, as like any “property” they may be sold to an adjacent property owner.

 

Process

Will there be a community meeting about this proposal?

There was an online, interactive community meeting held on July 15th, 2020. As we are continuing to observe the critical public health guidelines required by the COVID-19 outbreak, we hosted a “virtual” engagement allowing the developer to engage with the community via an online platform.

 

You can view the presentation in its entirety here.

 

Has this proposal been approved?

At this time, the alderman’s office is still soliciting community feedback as part of his zoning process. This process entails community engagement and the solicitation of community feedback, and per the alderman’s instruction, the development team has met with community stakeholders and surrounding buildings over the past several months to discuss the proposal.

 

How does this process work?

As this is a Planned Development process, it requires multiple approvals from the City of Chicago including approval before the Chicago Plan Commission, the City of Chicago Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards and ultimately, the Chicago City Council itself.

 

Construction

What dust mitigation strategy will you employ during construction?

We will follow all City of Chicago code requirements regarding dust mitigation. However, dust is typically only an issue during site work and we will have an erosion control plan in place to mitigate its impact on the surrounding community. 

 

What is the construction timeline? When will it begin and when will it end?

We would like to begin in early Quarter 2 of 2021 and anticipate roughly 20 months of construction, with a completion in late 2022 or early 2023.

 

 

Where will you stage construction equipment and workers vehicles?

Prior to beginning construction, we will work with the alderman’s office and the City of Chicago to devise an appropriate traffic management and logistics plan that will be reviewed and approved by the City prior to construction permits being issued. There are no plans to close the alley during construction.

 

Historic Preservation

Are there plans to preserve, or otherwise retain, the exterior of the existing building during the construction of the new development?

No – the existing building is neither a designated “landmark”, is not “orange-rated” and does not appear on the registry of historic buildings and existing features will not be incorporated within the new structure. The proposal will facilitate the preservation of the Cathedral, which is orange-rated on the historic resources survey.

 

Will any feature of the existing building be incorporated within the new development?

Given the condition of the exterior structure and the design guidelines of the proposed building, it is unlikely any existing material can be incorporated into the new structure.

 

Safety / Security

Will there be additional street lighting included in this proposal?

The City of Chicago has control of the street lighting grid, but the building will have on-site lighting that will activate and illuminate the street.

 

What other security enhancements will be provided for with this building?

The building will be fully staffed, having 24/7 personnel on-site including door staff.

 

Open Space

Will open space be included in this proposal?

The building will have landscaping, including planters and trees on the LaSalle Street and Maple Street elevations, and a public park (Washington Park) is approximately three (3) blocks to the south and east.

 

Building – Specific Questions

This building appears like its mainly comprised of steel and glass – is there a reason for this aesthetic?

Pappgeorge Haymes is an innovative, internationally renowned architectural firm known for their contemporary aesthetic. As downtown Chicago is well-known worldwide for the variety of architectural styles it holds, we feel our modern design will complement the existing urban landscape.

 

What can be done to design the building to limit COVID-19 related health risks?

The building will have a touchless entry and touchless elevator cabs and the amenity space will be designed for optimal use with safe distancing.  Should COVID-19 remain in effect upon completion and occupancy, a requirement for face masks to be worn in common areas.

 

Why are there 2 addresses for the proposal (Maple and LaSalle)?

Our retail tenants will be on LaSalle Street while the residential address will be on Maple Street. 

 

Will the units be standard or luxury? Will these be apartments or condominiums?

This will be a luxury apartment building.

 

The state seems to be losing residents – why would you seek to bring in more high-end renters?

While the State of Illinois and portions of Chicago have seen a decrease in residents, Downtown Chicago has been a vibrant community for decades.

Its unique mixture of social, cultural, and hospitality amenities combined with great public transit contribute to make it an attractive option for younger and older residents to reside.

 

What are the unit sizes?

Studios will range from approximately 500-600 square feet, one-bedrooms will range from approximately 650-850 square feet, and two bedrooms from approximately 1,150-1,250 square feet.

 

What are the building amenities?

The building will include a gym, co-working space, a resident lounge, package room, demonstration kitchen, rooftop pool and sunning terrace.

 

What will the average rent be?

It is anticipated that starting rents will be $2,000 per month.

 

Will there be east facing balconies?

No – there will not be balconies facing east.

 

Retail

Will there be retail space within the site? What type of tenants?

Yes – we will have 3,700 feet of ground-level commercial space, with the anticipated uses being for general services and potentially to include a convenience store, a dry cleaner, a restaurant or something similar.

 

Aren’t there enough vacancies in the community – won’t this add more?

Service and restaurant type tenants will be supported by the community as well as the new tenants in the building.

 

Do you have any tenants lined up?

Prior to any lease agreements the proposal needs to receive the appropriate zoning approvals from the City of Chicago.

 

City Hall Office
121 N. LaSalle St., Room 200
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 744-6836

Office Hours: Mon - Fri: 9AM-5PM

2nd Ward Service Office
1400 N. Ashland Ave.

Chicago, IL  60622

(312) 643-2299

Office Hours: Mon - Fri: 9AM-5PM