The Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Land Use Committee has been discussing a 200-unit apartment project with Brickstone Partners at 3100 West Lake Street since October 2016. Discussions about 26-, 21-, 16- and 13-story designs have been tabled for the time being. Six- and 9-story options also have been opposed by CIDNA for reasons of design and side yard. The CIDNA committee has considered a 10-story option with a wider side yard. No formal vote has been taken concerning the 10-story option, and the committee is seeking input from all stakeholders before a final vote and recommendation. Other options are still being considered. Discussions are currently focused on 5- to 8-story designs, but we are unclear about the direction of discussion.
A 10-story design was discussed because Brickstone has insisted on a 200-unit project. CIDNA has sought to reduce project size, but the zoning ordinance provides the developer with good arguments for floor area. Perhaps the most effective way to fight the large project size is to fall back to a 5-story wood frame building, which would reduce floor area by 15%, but would result in a narrow side yard for the Loop. CIDNA has tried to avoid this tack so far.
Side yard is a big issue for this project because the Loop has faced adverse effects from the Trammell Crow project including $1.8 million of construction damage. The general sentiment of Loop residents is that a taller building would provide more open green space and move construction activity away from our building. In addition, height would offer the neighborhood high-quality construction with more elegant design. Previously, Loop representatives favored the 13-story concept, but the CIDNA Committee opposed this option.
Dan Otis of Brickstone Partners has provided the following quote for this article: “Brickstone remains committed to developing an extraordinary project at 3100 W Lake St. It was clear, from the public meeting, many in the neighborhood supported a moderately taller structure due to the benefits to the community. This support has not been well quoted for this article but many residents advocated at the meeting for moderate height of 8-10 stories. There were also many that were against the additional height. Also, it is our understanding that the CIDNA Land Use Committee had tentatively approved a possible 10-story version of the project. With the previous approvals of 8 stories at 2622 W Lake St, and 6 stories at 3118 W Lake St, there is clearly precedent for both of these height concepts. We will continue to work with Councilwoman Goodman and the Land Use Committee to find a common ground on a project that will positively impact the neighborhood for many decades.”
Public Hearing: Brickstone presented its project to the community in a public hearing on January 26. CIDNA heard many conflicting opinions. This is a complicated project affecting many important stakeholders.
Lake Point residents generally opposed the project. Susan Mewborn opposed the 9- and 13-story designs because their heights actually translate far above Lake Point’s 9th and 13 stories, with the latter reaching around Lake Point’s 18th story. Mark Scally, who lives on the 12th floor, said: “The 13-story would present a huge problem for precedent. The 6-story design makes more sense with a wider side yard. Two hundred units proposed by Brickstone are not preordained.” But in a contrasting opinion, Carol Brandenburg, who lives on a lower floor facing the project, stated she would prefer her western view to be of a higher-quality building—and that she is very sympathetic to The Loop’s concerns—therefore she would support the 13-story option.
Many Loop residents spoke in favor of the 13-story design. Kerrie Acheson said that the 6- and 9-story designs would be too close to her patio, and that the 13-story would provide more attractive green space and views.
Irv Smith, resident of Calhoun-Isles Condominiums facing the project, spoke against a taller building.
Mike Elson from the Lake Calhoun sailing school stated that the Park Board is considering relocation of the sailing school to the northwest side of Lake Calhoun. Another tall building would further interfere with wind patters. Buildings should stay no higher than 5 stories in Mike’s opinion.
Traffic was a major concern expressed by many residents in the hearing. Leela Rao, of the Lake Point board of directors, stated that numerous new projects in the area would add to our traffic problems. She urged Brickstone to consider the safety of the neighborhood when designing the project. Richard Logan of West Calhoun spoke of the ongoing safety hazards and traffic violations near the project site.
Stacia Goodman, a single-family resident in CIDNA, strongly supports maintaining the existing, street-facing public art on the property or replacing it with new public art. She asked the developer to make a commitment to keeping such art truly public for all to see.
The Shoreland: Despite new projects higher than 35 feet, the Shoreland ordinance has helped to limit height of projects on Lake Calhoun. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, developers proposed many projects of 20-, 30-, to 40-stories. Since passage of the Shoreland Overlay ordinance in the mid-1990’s, no very tall projects have been built in CIDNA. Nevertheless, building height in the shoreland is a major concern in the community, and many believe that even existing new projects are too high. David Williams, Lake Point resident at the public hearing, for example, stated that the Shoreland Overlay ordinance was intended to protect public views of the shoreland from the perspective of park users. He urged Brickstone to build a 6-story project.
Precedent: Precedent continues to be of great concern to CIDNA. Despite the higher density goals for the urban plan in the Lake Street Corridor, the neighborhood will continue to fight tall buildings, and advocate for development that respects the context of the neighborhood. Many participants in this dialogue consider the 8-story Lakes Residence to be the maximum height standard. Vern Vander Weide of the CIDNA Land Use Committee strongly opposes a 10-story design for reasons of precedent: “A ten-story structure at 114 feet substantially exceeds anything in the immediate vicinity that was built after the height restrictions were imposed. It is 25 feet taller than The Lakes Residence and even taller than that relative to the Loop. The rationale is to increase setbacks. Setbacks are important to those in close proximity to a building, either as a resident of a neighboring building or those who walk through the area. Height is of great importance to everyone in our and adjoining neighborhoods. A 10-story building would represent a critical precedent for further development in the immediate area. Our neighborhood has been waging a war against height for over 40 years in order to protect the aesthetic effect of the lakes and our urban forest. I view a eight- or nine-story structure with a set-back of 23 feet as a reasonable compromise of the height versus set-back issue.”
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