West Loop high-rise project takes a trim but moves ahead
BY DAVID ROEDER Staff Reporter September 3, 2013 6:46PM
Rendering of a 17-story apartment building proposed by Taxman Corp. at the southeast corner of Madison and Green in the West Loop.
Updated: October 5, 2013 6:27AM
Developer Seymour “Sy” Taxman has on his project list what could be called the Incredible Shrinking Building. He has had to downsize his West Loop high-rise four times to get the necessary community support for a zoning change.
With a final tweak on the height last week, Taxman appears to have the backing he needs. He said that on Wednesday he will file a zoning request, technically an amendment to a current planned development, for property on the southeast corner of Madison and Green, just west of Halsted.
Taxman, working with architect Joseph Antunovich, wants to build a 170-foot tall apartment building. Under a 2011 zoning deal, the site was to get a roughly 250-foot tall hotel, a plan Taxman had to trim from an original design in the 300-foot range.
But no hotel operator could be found, and the market demand veered to apartments. So Taxman had to prepare another zoning request and go through a new round of building shrinkage to win over neighbors concerned about high-rises west of Halsted.
He sealed the deal at an Aug. 27 public meeting hosted by West Loop Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th). Taxman knocked a final five feet from the height. The 17-story structure would have 167 apartments and parking for 95 cars.
“It was a good interchange,” Taxman said of the meeting. He said that despite concerns about the height, his building will be dwarfed by the 39-story Skybridge condo building on the east side of Halsted.
Martha Goldstein, executive director of the West Loop Community Organization, said it has dropped its opposition to the Taxman building. “The community seems to be in favor of this. We have to go with that,” Goldstein said. “We just hope it won’t set a precedent.” During the real estate boom, the group tried to limit height of new construction to 12 stories west of Halsted.
The project is the second phase of a “Gateway to the West Loop” development. The completed first phase was a Mariano’s grocery store and additional retail space at 40 S. Halsted.
Taxman is president of Skokie-based Taxman Corp., a developer of retail centers. He said he plans to sell the apartment building to an investor who knows that market, but only after the zoning is in place. “I intend to meet my commitments to the community,” he said.
Construction could begin early in 2014 and be complete by mid-2015, he said.
HOW TO GET FREE LAND: City officials want to use a tax-increment financing subsidy and free land to help developers build homes on vacant lots in the Grand Boulevard neighborhood.
The proposal would lead to 71 homes being built as part of replacement housing for the old Robert Taylor Homes high-rise project of the Chicago Housing Authority. They would be built on empty lots the city owns in the 4700 and 4800 blocks of South Calumet, the 4300 blocks of South Prairie and South Michigan and the 100 block of East 43rd Street.
The team of Brinshore Development LLC and Michaels Development Co. would get the land for $1 when the appraised value is $572,000, according to a city report. They also would get $3.03 million from the 47th and King Drive TIF district, the report said.
In return, they are supposed to provide apartments officially deemed affordable for households earning up to 60 percent of the region’s median income. Fifty-three of the units would fall into that class of affordability, including units reserved for former CHA residents, with the rest being market-rate.
Chicago’s Community Development Commission approved terms of the deal on Aug. 13. The city has to advertise for alternative proposals for the property. If it doesn’t get any for 30 days, it can then sign a contract with Brinshore and Michaels.
TIF PAYBACK: The gods of tax-increment financing can taketh away. Or they can giveth.
TIF districts can starve taxing agencies of needed revenue as property tax money gets funneled to pet projects and developer subsidies. But in the case of the Chicago Public Library and the Lawrence-Kedzie TIF district, the fund diversion can produce a windfall.
City officials tapped the Lawrence-Kedzie TIF for $15 million to pay for a new library serving Albany Park. The new facility at 3401 W. Foster will replace cramped space at 5150 N. Kimball.
HARLEM TOUR: Mayors in the southwest suburbs are mobilizing to promote development opportunities along the Harlem Avenue commercial artery running from Bedford Park south to Tinley Park. On Sept. 18, the Southwest Conference of Mayors will host a bus tour and a luncheon that will highlight 10 key sites totaling 350 acres. See Harlemcorridor.com for details.
David Roeder reports on real estate at 6:22 p.m. Thursdays on WBBM-AM (780) and WBBM-FM (105.9). The reports are repeated at 10:22 p.m. Thursday and 7:22 a.m. Sunday.