Some Old Town residents pushing back on tower apartment building proposal

Tower part of proposed plan to redevelop stretch of North Avenue from Wells Street to LaSalle Drive

Tuesday, May 7, 2024
Some Old Town residents pushing back on apartment building proposal
Some Old Town, Chicago residents are pushing back on a proposal to build a tower apartment building at North and Wells.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There's a plan to develop a tower apartment building in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood, and some people who live there are not happy about it.

The tower is part of a proposed plan to redevelop a stretch of North Avenue from Wells Street to LaSalle Drive.

ABC7 Chicago is now streaming 24/7. Click here to watch

A coalition of Old Town parcel owners have come together to redevelop chunks of North Avenue bordering Wells and LaSalle, but the proposed residential 500-unit rental tower has some residents fuming.

"What we don't want is a giant tower with 500 rental units slap dab in the middle of Old Town, where there's already enough traffic that you can't drive down on North Avenue most days," said Jordan Matyas, a resident and lobbyist with community group Old Town Friends for Responsible Developments.

The tower would sit on top of the Walgreens at the corner of Wells and North.

"I told the developer when he first came to me, and said, 'if you want to get this through the community, he's got to win over the community. And the only way to do that is to take their input and take it seriously,'" 2nd Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins said.

The project was announced over three years ago.

After listening to community feedback concerned about blocking views, developer Fern Hill came out with another proposal that actually makes the 400-foot building thinner, but a few feet taller.

"There are no perfect solutions, only compromises," Fern Hill President Nick Anderson said.

RELATED: Court rules in favor of Obama Foundation in fight over Jackson Park presidential center construction

Anderson will attend the seventh community meeting Tuesday night to talk about his plan, while also listening to residents' concerns and suggestions.

"What we have suggested is similar buildings have been built nearby that are about eight to 10 stories, and that would be acceptable," Matyas said.

Anderson said gathering feedback and putting together a final proposal is far from over.

"We are always open to having a conversation, to having any possible solution, and it's about bearing the merits and pros and cons," Anderson said.

Hopkins has yet to take a position on the project. He said it all depends on what his constituents want.

"If we can find answers for them, this project has a chance for approval. If we can't, I'm certainly not going to go against the majority of my residents," Hopkins said.

The development must win approval from the Plan Commission, the Zoning Committee and ultimately City Council, but the project has a long way to go before it gets to City Hall.

A traffic study has not been done yet.