Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wolf Point: Great views plus awesome location minus lousy access and high density equals what?

Wolf Point is a parcel of land right at the confluence of the North and South Branches of the Chicago River. As the crow flies it is about 300 yards from my Chicago office. The Kennedy family owns the dirt, having retained it after selling the Merchandise Mart and the Apparel Center to Vornado.

The Kennedys, in connection with Hines, L.P. (the office developer) and Habitat Co. (a well-known local residential developer) have revealed plans to build three buildings on the four acre site: an 89-story tower with condos, apartments and hotel rooms, a 40-story building with a million sf of office space and a 56-story condo tower. Cesar Pelli is the architect.

Here's some random thoughts on the project.

Notwithstanding the glut of hotels and condos, this project could do very well just because of the spectacular location. You can get an idea of the types of views by watching the Nicolas Cage film The Weather Man. And who knows what the market will be like in five+ years anyway?

This is not the first ambitious project planned for this site.

If done right, this could really make a nice balance against 333 W. Wacker, which is just across the river.

The access to the property is, alas, just awful. Just one narrow one-way street (Orleans).

What will Alderman Brendan Reilly say? Has he already signed off? There is a ton of density here, and while you are near downtown there could be concerns that the traffic count and number of planned buildings and units might be too much for Orleans Street to handle.

All in all, I see this as a potential blockbuster project, but with some troublesome features that could make its development difficult. But assuming they can be overcome I'd sure be interested in owning something there.


Eric Mathiasen said...

It is limited access, but Orleans is far from small there. It's basically 4 lanes wide at that point. There could be lower-level access on Lower Orleans to Kinzie, too, and an upper-level right-of-way along the west to Kinzie could probably be negotiated with the Apparel Mart or whatever that's called.

It, along with the Trump building, 300 N Lasalle and 351 N Clark (not to mention the Merchandise Mart andall the other existing buildings) also push the city to establish Carol Street transit, which they've often talked about doing. Streetcars would be my preference, but even a bus service there would be very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Trump, Kennedy's ? (who needs there vision of Chicago) I pefer Burnham! Wolf Point Park has a nice ring to it.