Wolf Point tower development clears first hurdle

Merchandise MartBrendan Reilly

The Chicago Plan Commission today approved a proposal to build a three-tower complex downtown on historic Wolf Point on the bank of the Chicago River.

The panel voted only to allow construction to begin on the westernmost tower on the parcel, which will include rental units on the land which now includes a parking lot. And even this part of the plan still must go to the City Council Zoning Committee and the full City Council for approval.

But the commission's approval also sets standards for the size of the other two towers developers hope to eventually put up on the land south of Kinzie Street and west of the Merchandise Mart. Before breaking ground on the other two towers, developers will need to come back before the Plan Commission for additional approval.

Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, spoke in favor of the proposal. He noted developers --- including Christopher Kennedy, a grandson of Joseph Kennedy --- made changes to the traffic plan and other concerns brought up by neighbors.

"This project has been a test, and I would say with the expert support of (the Chicago Department of Transportation) and Housing and Economic Development, We've gotten this right," Reilly said.

Reilly had halted a hearing on the project last month after developers introduced a plan calling for up to 1,800 hotel rooms on the site. The plan voted on today included a maximum of 450 hotel rooms.

jebyrne@tribune.com

Twitter @_johnbyrne

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