A new West Loop office building (l.) and a River North hotel were approved by the city’s Plan Commission Thursday.
COURTESY DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT

A West Loop office building is planned for a vacant lot while a River North hotel will take the place of a parking lot.

CHICAGO — Surface parking lots in River North and West Loop soon could be transformed into a hotel and office building, respectively, under plans approved Thursday by the city’s Plan Commission.

A 15-story office building is slated to replace a parking lot in the middle of the block at 609 W. Randolph St. in West Loop. The office tower will sit next to an existing, historically protected building that was to be redeveloped under the project’s original plans.

Developer Vista Property Group originally sought to demolish the building at 601 W. Randolph and incorporate its facade into a new structure.

But the existing building is rated “orange” in the city’s historical survey, meaning it contains “potentially” historic attributes. After city officials bristled at the plan to redevelop the building, Vista Property altered its proposal.

The plan commissioners endorsed Thursday calls for a 211-foot office building with a ground-floor lobby and retail space.

The top floor will have an outdoor area for office tenants and a portion of the upper floors will extend over the existing building at 601 W. Randolph, renderings show. The office building’s brick facade will seek to blend in with the historic structure next door.

River North

In River North, a nine-story hotel will take the place of a parking lot at 862-868 N. Orleans St.

The 66-room Stob Hotel will include rooms with balconies, ground-floor space for a restaurant, rooftop space for a restaurant or bar and a rooftop deck for travelers, according to the development team with Praia Management Group.

The hotel project has been in the works for over a year, the development team said. The project is a promising sign despite the hotel industry’s struggles during the coronavirus pandemic, Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) said.

“This project is going to be great for our community,” he said at the commission meeting. “This is telling us things are still happening in the city of Chicago.”

Lincoln Park

Two North Side residential developments were also approved by the Plan Commission on Thursday, bringing more than 150 combined apartments to Lincoln Park and Edgewater.

In Lincoln Park, JDL Development is planning to build a seven-story mixed-use building at 1623 N. Halsted St. with 79 units and ground-floor commercial space.

The structure will replace four existing buildings on Halsted just north of the Brown Line tracks. The proposal was scaled down at least twice since it was first proposed last year, Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said.

“It was a very lengthy process but it was a collaborative process every step of the way,” he said. “This is a win all the way around.”

The proposal also called for hotel use at the site. That’s because a long-term stay company had expressed interest in leasing some of the units in the building, JDL Principal Jim Letchinger said Thursday.

Long-term stay companies, which are growing in popularity in Chicago, pay hotel taxes. Letchinger said such use in the building is now unlikely given the economic climate for hotels.

Edgewater

In Edgewater, developer Cedar Street was given the go-ahead to turn a parking lot at 5440 N. Sheridan Rd. into a courtyard-style development with 78 units.

The Sheridan Road property has long been eyed for redevelopment. Previous proposals included a 16-story, 174-unit senior living center and a 190-unit condo building.

Cedar Street originally sought to build a seven-story, 99-unit structure at the site. Through the community approval process, the project was pared down to five stories and 78 units.

The building’s Sheridan-facing facade will house townhomes, including six duplex units, to give the property a more residential scale, developer Mark Heffron of Cedar Street said.

The City Council approved a zoning change earlier this year (O2020-784) allowing the project to move forward, but its proximity to Lake Michigan means the plan commission must also approve its Lakefront Protection Ordinance application for the site.

Other items approved by the Plan Commission include:

  • A proposal by developer Michael Hamblet for a three-story addition to an existing five-story office at 50 E. Huron St., in order to add a medical office on site. The building was the former home of the American Library Association and will be redeveloped into a physical rehab facility. The developer will also build a 24-stall underground parking garage.
  •  A proposal by CSX Transportation to rezone its approximately 968,000-square-foot rail storage yard between 59th Street and 63rd Street near Western Avenue. The change would allow the freight company to add new capacity, landscaping and a new entrance from 63rd Street.
  • A proposal by Skyfall Partners LLC to allow vehicle leasing at the Lyft Collision Center at 1020. N. Elston Ave. in Goose Island.
  • A proposal by JDL Development to add a veterinary clinic among allowed uses in its 27-story, mixed-use Eight Eleven Uptown development at the corner of Montrose and Clarendon avenues in Uptown. The item was originally scheduled to be approved by the commission last month, but it was deferred. The 373-unit project was completed in 2018, and the veterinary clinic has already opened.