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High-Rise Plan Casts Shadow on Future of Grant Park

by Ashley Braden
July 3, 2008 – Another high-rise in the ever-expanding South Loop is one step closer to being built, with much support from area residents. However, one community group still hopes to ground the project.

Central Station, an $800 million residential development located at Roosevelt Road and Michigan Avenue, won approval from the Chicago Plan Commission last month. Project developer Gerald Fogelson appeared before the 21-member commission because building plans call for two of the development’s towers, Grant Park 3 and Grant Park 4, to be higher than restrictions now allow.

The commission approved the tower at the southwest corner of Roosevelt and Indiana going 170 feet over the current restriction of 620 feet and the other at the southeast corner of Roosevelt Road and Michigan Avenue 250 feet higher than the 650 feet restriction. The proposal now goes before the full Chicago City Council on July 9, said Danielle Dombrow, staff assistant to Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd).

Fioretti, who supports the Central Station development, told the Chicago Sun-Times few complaints have been made about the 795-unit project. Many neighborhood residents favor the project as well.

Carl Giometti, blogger and resident of the 2nd Ward, said Central Station is “fantastic.”

“I think the development is absolutely appropriate given the high-profile location,” Giometti said. “The site is less than a quarter of a mile from three ‘El’ lines, the Metra Electric and South Shore Station, not to mention countless bus stops. It is about a half mile from the Loop, has great access to the Dan Ryan and Lakeshore Drive; if there is a place to build tall and dense in Chicago, this is certainly the site.”

Dennis Beninato, president of the Greater South Loop Association, said he is indifferent about the project.

“There’s nothing relatively alarming about it,” Beninato said. “[Central Station developers] came and presented at one of our meetings late last year, and there weren’t any folks who were opposing it.”

But South Loop Neighbors opposes Grant Park 3 and 4, arguing that the two towers will cast shadows over Grant Park. In a letter sent early last month to Ald. Fioretti, South Loop Neighbors said, “most of the area south of 11th Street will be in dark shadow most of the year” and “it is a basic principle of urban design and city planning to avoid shadowing public space.”

Central Station Development Corp. President Timothy Desmond did not return calls for a response to the shadowing concerns.

Dennis McClendon, vice president of South Loop Neighbors, said the group feels it’s “very unfortunate that [the towers] will shadow Grant Park.” McClendon said he presented that statement at the Chicago Plan Commission’s June 19 meeting last month, but he doesn’t expect the group to further protest the development at the upcoming City Council meeting.

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