Brickstone Partners has proposed a 200-unit apartment project on the site of the Ministers Life Building at 3100 West Lake Street. The site is located between Lake Point and Loop-Calhoun Condominiums. The developer has presented three design options for the community’s consideration, and has released new aerial perspectives to help the public understand the designs and massing concepts. Brickstone favors the 13-story option.
CIDNA Opposition: In preliminary discussions, the CIDNA Land Use and Development Committee has opposed all three designs. As Craig Westgate, President of CIDNA states, “A 13-story building would create a big precedent problem for our neighborhood because we have other sites nearby to be developed.” Edgewater and Lakes Residences, both 84 feet, are the tallest projects on Lake Calhoun since our zoning code was passed 25 years ago. Lake Point and the Calhoun Beach Club Apartments are not precedential because they were built prior to the zoning code. The site is located in the Shoreland Overlay District limiting height to 35 feet. The Committee also opposes 10-, 11- and 12-story versions. The Committee agrees with developer that the 13-story option would offer the best design and materials.
The Committee also opposes the 6- and 9-story designs, which locate 4- and 6-story walls 30 feet from the south Loop building. The 6-story option is particularly unattractive for the Committee reflecting poor design, large size, and low-quality building materials.
Lake Point Perspective: Lake Point residents are very concerned about the 9- and 13-story designs. Rodge Adams, Lake Point resident, says, “With the 13-story as presently designed, both Lake Point and Loop residents would face a massive structure taller than the east wall of the new Calhoun Beach Club Apartments.”
Favoring the 13-Story: A minority of the Committee favors the 13-story design. Twelve residents are on CIDNA’s Committee with representatives from throughout the neighborhood including two from both Lake Point and Loop Condos. As Karen Stublaski, Loop resident, says: “The taller tower design would provide the community with an open green space between our properties. We are also advocating for the greatest possible setback distance from the Loop because of the recent construction damage to our property from Trammell Crow development. Lastly, the 13-story option would have the highest quality construction and provide the most access to sun, light, and air.” The architects on the Committee also favor the 13-story option reflecting their perspectives on design and urban planning.
CIDNA Compromise: The Committee has discussed a 9-story counter-proposal that would seek compromise between the homeowners associations, the larger CIDNA neighborhood, and the Shoreland community:
- Eliminate at least the westerly 50 feet from the two 4-story extensions on the west side of the 9-story tower. This modification would increase the minimum west side yard from 15 to 65 feet.
- Move the building slightly to the north, away from Lake Street, to improve the pedestrian environment and the visual connection with Lake Street.
- Reduce floor area by15% as a result of 1 and 2. No other floor area would be added.
- Make the entire project of Type 1 steel and concrete construction.
- Improve the design so that both the podium and the tower present an elegant, integrated, and attractive appearance, comparable in quality to the Edgewater and Lakes Residences projects.
With this counter-proposal, CIDNA would make a significant concession to exceed the 84-foot height precedents of Edgewater and Lakes Residences.
Brickstone Response: The developer is working on possible solutions. Dan Otis of Brickstone says: “While we believe the 13-story program allowed the greatest opportunity for CIDNA to most efficiently reach its goals, we are committed to further exploring the other two options with the committee. The request for a reduction of size related to the 9-story option makes it extremely difficult for us, and likely impossible, to deliver the concrete and steel construction that CIDNA would like to see. The type-1 construction of concrete and steel is significantly more expensive and requires a terminal density that was originally proposed of close to 200 units. After studying the requests made by the committee, we believe there are variations to the original proposed 9-story concept that would accommodate our baseline need to keep the density consistent to our original proposals and also the committee’s desire to modify the massing.”
Floor Area: Should Brickstone fall back to wood-frame construction, CIDNA would oppose the 6-story design in part because it would be too large for the site. Informing this discussion would be the floor area that Brickstone could build without a significant conditional use permit to exceed the 35- and 56-foot height limits. Conditional use permits require the developer to consider factors such as shading, access to light and air, and character of the surrounding neighborhood. To satisfy these criteria, height of the fabric building should be reduced to 5 stories in order to respect heights of the adjacent south Loop building and Lake Calhoun Flats. In addition, to obtain a CUP that would exceed the Shoreland height limit, Brickstone should respect the same 25-foot westerly setback as Lake Calhoun Flats. By CIDNA’s calculations, Brickstone should reduce its floor area by 18% to meet these criteria.
Brickstone argues that its 6-story design should be permitted because it would be the same height as the Trammell Crow building to the west of the Loop. CIDNA rejects this argument. At 64 feet, the North Loop Building is the same height as Trammell Crow, with a 50-foot building separation. The south Loop building is only 55 feet high, compared with Trammell Crow’s 64-foot height, but with a side yard separation of 100+ feet. On the east side of the 5-story south Loop building, Brickstone is proposing a 6-story building with only 30 feet of separation. A 6-story Brickstone building should have much more side yard to exceed the height limit and to be one floor higher than the south Loop building.
Environmental Impact: Beside design, there are several other issues to be studied before CIDNA takes a final position on the project. The most salient issues include:
- Traffic The existing entry to the site will be moved to the eastern property line, which could change traffic patterns at the Dean Parkway and Market Plaza intersections. In addition, residents are deeply concerned about traffic congestion and safety on Lake Street as a result of all the development that is being added in the area.
- Mechanicals As with other projects, CIDNA will closely review auditory and visual impact of mechanicals including heating and air conditioning, emergency generators, and roof overruns for elevators and other mechanicals.
- Excavation and Construction Methods The Loop Condos are very concerned about construction damage to their building. The Trammell Crow project, which CIDNA and the Loop supported in 2015, has caused $1.8 million of damage to the Loop. A lawsuit is pending. Brickstone is in discussions with the Loop regarding excavation methods and solutions. The developer also is seeking aerial and ground rights from the Loop for customary construction activities including a building crane.
Next Steps: CIDNA will continue its dialogue with Brickstone and the community. Stakeholders are encouraged to attend CIDNA’s public hearing on January 26, 2017 at 6 p.m. at Jones Harrison Residence, Lakeview Room, 3700 Cedar Lake Avenue. The latest information and drawings will be presented at this public meeting. Please follow Committee activities, postings, and announcements on this blog by clicking the “Follow Us” button to the upper right above. Readers are encouraged to submit comments and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.