Design Unveiled For One Chicago Square

CHICAGO (CBS) — We’re getting our first look at a massive project that would change the look and feel of Chicago’s near North Side.

One Chicago Square, what could be the city’s sixth tallest skyscraper, will reach high into the sky, towering over Chicago’s century-old house of worship — Holy Name Cathedral.

Developers revealed their proposal for two residential towers across from the landmark church — one just 45 stories, the other stretching almost as high as the John Hancock building.

Developer Jim Letchinger’s luxury apartments start at $4,000 a month — condominium units begin at the $1.5 million level. The towers take up only 30 percent of the projects’ land space.

“They are not a big footprint. We chose to go taller so we can make them skinnier,” Letchinger said, who’s with JDL Development.

Letchinger believes that allows light to filter down to the cathedral, while blocking out direct afternoon sun.

The current proposal calls for 850 residential units, 900 parking spaces, plus office space, a grocery store, health club and special event space. The open vistas currently surrounding the church, however, would disappear.

“We have done a large green area in front of the space to give breathing room to the cathedral, to take photos,” Letchinger said.

However, people who live or work near Holy Name Cathedral are sharing their thoughts about the skyscraper slated to go up in the parking lot across the street.

“It will overshadow the historic aspect of Holy Name Cathedral and I’m not even Catholic, ” said a woman named Carol, who works down the street from the church. “It will just ruin the whole thing.”

Roxanne doesn’t like the idea of another skyscraper going up in the neighborhood, as well as the three years of construction it’s estimated to require. “We have a lot of high rises, but having moved to the neighborhood, to be quite frank, how can you say not in my backyard?”

Others don’t object, especially in a neighborhood already full of high rises.

A man out walking his dog said he does not understand why anyone would object to changing the current space, which is a parking lot.

Eric Wollan, director of capital assets for the Chicago Archdiocese, said the developer was really thoughtful.

“The design is striking and I think it’s one that the neighborhood will be proud of. I think it is one that compliments the cathedral, which was important to us. This is the front door of the cathedral, so we are very sensitive to the design,” Wollan said.

The archdiocese is reportedly selling the lot for roughly $110 million to help pay off debt.

Before this project gets the green light, it needs to first complete a three-step approval process at City Hall. The ward’s alderman wants additional studies of the towers’ impact on the loss of sunlight, as well as increased traffic along Chicago Avenue, which already comes to a standstill at rush hour.

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