Community Meeting for 935 W. Washington (ZOM)

(Please click here for the previous post about this development.)

On Wednesday, March 15, representatives from developer ZOM, attorney DLA Piper, and BKL Architects presented an updated proposal for the development formerly known as Union West, a three-building project on the block bounded by Washington and Madison, Morgan and Sangamon.

Developer Proposal

The developer is requesting a zoning change from DX-3 to DX-5 with a 6.5 FAR. They have reduced the proposed number of units from 405 down to 358 units and have decreased the proposed parking volume from 232 to 195 spaces, including some below grade. Since 64 spots will be for the sole use of Haymarket Center (the current property owner), the resident parking ratio will be 0.37.

The project still includes three buildings, but at lower heights: a one-story lofted building on Madison and two 15-story buildings on Morgan and at the corner of Washington and Sangamon.

The proposed timeline for construction starts in December of this year, with with work continuing for about 18 months. Under this plan, units would become available during the summer of 2019.

Community Feedback

There were lots of concerns from the neighboring buildings:

The time range on the light study only covered from early am to 3 pm. A request was made to have the light study time range extended since the new buildings will be uniquely taller than the 4/5 storied buildings in the surrounding area.

There was a question about a neighborhood height restriction of ten stories/100 ft. The developer said that they were not aware that there were any height restrictions of this kind.

The traffic study is pending and will be conducted taking into account all the development/pending development in the area. Questions were raised about whether the study will include increased usage of public transportation, specifically the City Link bus users, and whether there are plans to work with CDOT to mitigate public transportation congestion issues. The developer’s traffic consultant, KLOA, said that the study will encompass public transportation and that CDOT will review the report when considering planning for public transit. KLOA said that the traffic study should be available to WLCO in about 30 days.

Currently there are no ideas on what types of retail will come in for the retail site. A question was posed by about whether partial space can be retained for incubator companies at reduced market rates which will adjust incrementally upon business stabilization. The developer said that they can talk about it at a later time.

A request was made to consider vertical garders in lieu of walls on the west and north side interior facades so that the existing building will not be just looking at concrete walls.

A question was posed to Ald. Solis on what he thought of all of the developments after hearing all the concerns on height and density, parking, traffic, et.. He said that there have been no decisions made yet and that he will have to think about all the topics discussed. He also noted that the City’s Department of Planning drives a lot for the direction of where West Loop development is going, and that it’s important that they get more community feedback. The alderman and WLCO noted that a community workshop on West Loop design guidelines will be held soon.

The developer was asked if the deal to purchase the land is done. The developer stated that there has been an agreement signed to purchase the lot.

Nicole Wellhausen with Ald. Solis’ office outlined upcoming residential parking restrictions (including permit parking) that are being implemented to preserve parking for residents.

Near the conclusion of the presentation the developer mentioned that they will donate $75,000 to Skinner West Elementary to establish a STEM laboratory in the new building expansion. The developer also mentioned that, per their request to the alderman, the 10% portion of the projects’ Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus payment that stays in the neighborhood would be earmarked for the STEM lab as well. The donation and NOB payment are contingent on the project moving forward. The audience spoke out in favor of and against this donation/payment. Many in the audience felt that the donation offer was a quid pro quo arrangement. Others questioned the use of the NOB funds for the school, noting that there were other projects that also need funding.

Wrap-up and Next Steps

NoWL will compile and submit a position letter for Alderman Solis based the feedback gathered during the meeting and subsequent. The alderman will then determine if he will support the project based on feedback from our organization and others in the community.

Date: March 25, 2017

By: Leigh Wang