Chicago’s most famous empty hole is set to get new life, in the latest massive development that will alter Chicago’s skyline in the midst of a global pandemic.
The City Council’s Zoning Committee on Tuesday unanimously advanced a $1 billion plan from Related Midwest for the vacant land at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive.
That means the city is one step closer to writing a new ending to the saga of the never-built, 2,000-foot Santiago Calatrava-designed tower that left a 76-foot-deep foundation hole empty for more than a decade.
The full City Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the plan to build two towers with 1,100 units along the Ogden Slip west of Lake Shore Drive. The two towers would rise 875 feet and 765 feet — a far cry from the original plan, which called for the Spire to be the tallest building in the United States and the third tallest in the world.
That proposal collapsed during the 2008 Great Recession, and became a long-running joke for many Chicagoans.
Chicago Planning Commissioner Maurice Cox called the two-tower plan “very elegant” and said it will become “iconic on the lakefront skyline” during a Plan Commission hearing on the project on May 21.
As part of the development agreement, Related Midwest will contribute $10 million toward the long-delayed completion of DuSable Park on a 3.3-acre peninsula adjacent to the planned towers. Former Mayor Harold Washington proposed creating the park to honor Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, Chicago’s first non-Native American settler.
The land was once home to the Lindsay Light and Chemical Company facility, requiring an extensive environmental cleanup.
The city has pledged $5 million to complete the park, which will be reached by a planned extension of the Chicago Riverwalk and from the Navy Pier Flyover bike trail.
To fulfill the project’s obligation under the Affordable Requirements Ordinance, the developers will pay $3.6 million into the city’s Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund, which the city uses to build and subsidize housing for low-income Chicagoans.
The developer is not required to include any affordable units in the towers because the original development approval for the site was granted in 2007 — before the city changed the rule to require all projects to set aside at least some units for low- and moderate-income residents as part of the development, rather than paying a fee.