by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producer

CHICAGO (CBS) — After significantly scaling back their plans to finally fill in the massive hole left behind by the abandoned 2,000-foot Chicago Spire project, developers will soon be able to move forward with a $1 billion project to build two high-rise apartment towers on the site in Streeterville.

Related Midwest bought the vacant Spire site at 400 N. Lake Shore Dr. in 2018, with plans to build two towers rising 1,100 feet and 850 feet, respectively. Following two years of negotiation with Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), community representatives, and others, the proposal has been revised, now calling for towers that would rise 765 feet and 875 feet respectively. The taller of the two buildings will now occupy the northern part of the site, rather than the southern part.

“Although this was a long and difficult negotiation, I believe it has resulted in a far superior project to the one that was initially proposed,” Reilly said.

A comparison of the original plan for the two towers at 400 N. Lake Shore Dr., versus the revised plan recently approved by the City Council Zoning Committee (Source: City of Chicago)

The original plan would have called for the project to include 300 condominiums, 550 rental apartments, 175 hotel rooms, and 750 parking spaces. The revised project calls for the two buildings to house 1,100 apartments, while eliminating the hotel and condo plans, and scaling back the parking garage to 300 spaces.

Developers also originally planned for the towers to be built atop a four-story podium featuring a motor court, parking garage, meeting rooms, and a ballroom. After neighbors objected to the podium plan, arguing it would block views of the lake and DuSable Park from west of the new buildings, the developers agreed to eliminate the podium from their plans. The two buildings now will feature ground-level retail and commercial space, and underground parking.

Related Midwest plans to build two high-rise apartment buildings at the site of the abandoned Chicago Spire project at 400 N. Lake Shore Dr. (Source: Skidmore Owings & Merrill)

Richard Klawiter, an attorney for the developers, said they also have committed $10 million to the development of DuSable Park, an undeveloped piece of Chicago Park District Property just south of Navy Pier. The park project will include a landscaped riverfront walkway extending to DuSable Park and the Navy Pier Flyover. The city will fund the remaining $5 million of the DuSable Park development project.

Reilly said Related Midwest also agreed to major design and infrastructure changes to help improve traffic flow, entirely at their own cost; including six new security cameras, and 38 light fixtures along the Riverwalk and landscaped areas; as well as improved pedestrian crossings at the intersection of Columbus Drive and Upper North Water Street, the intersection of Peshtigo Court and Illinois Street, and at the southbound Lake Shore Drive off-ramp at Illinois Street.

Traffic on North Water Street would be limited to residents of the building, and their guests. Delivery access would be limited to Lake Shore Drive.

Related Midwest also will conduct a new traffic study after completing construction of the first tower, and before starting construction of the second tower, and make any necessary adjustments to the traffic plan.

The site also will include Divvy bike rental stations.

Developers also will contribute $3.9 million to the city’s affordable housing fund and rental assistance programs.

The full City Council is expected to vote on the project at Wednesday’s meeting.

Related Midwest plans to extend the northern stretch Riverwalk to DuSable Park as part of its plans for a two-tower project at 400 N. Lake Shore Dr. (Source: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

The site at 400 N. Lake Shore Dr. has gone undeveloped for more than a decade, after the Great Recession forced developers to give up on the ambitious skyscraper project, which would have been the tallest in the Western Hemisphere. The only work that was ever done was digging a 76-foot-deep hole for the tower’s foundation, which has sat empty ever since.