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Nov. 7, 2012

Construction Resumes at Chicago’s 111 West Wacker Drive

By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer

Chicago—Construction has officially resumed at 111 W. Wacker Dr. on the north edge of Chicago’s Loop. Related Midwest, which has taken over development of the site once slated for Waterview Tower condominiums, plans a 60-story LEED-designed luxury rental property to be completed by April 2014.

Lacking an official name, but being called 111 W. Wacker for the time being, the apartment community will feature 504 luxury studio, convertible, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment homes. The building will also offer signature street-level retail and restaurant spaces, as well as 400 parking spaces.

Construction on Waterview Tower, which was to offer condominiums and a Shangri-La Hotel, was halted in 2008 at the 28th floor level. It has been stalled since. Related Real Estate Recovery Fund (RRERF) acquired the property in July 2011 in a joint-venture partnership with Clark Wacker LLC.

One of the development’s key selling points is its location, which will permit residents to walk south to jobs in the Loop financial district, north across the river to the dining and entertainment options of River North, east to Millennium Park and the lakefront, and two or three blocks to the Randolph St. theater district.

“It’s critical to be located where people work and play,” Related Midwest president Curt Bailey tells MHN. “The question four years ago was, ‘Is this a great residential location?’ And the answer then—and now—is yes. But as River North has emerged as the place in the city for entertainment and dining, this location has just continued to get better and better. The location is at the confluence of the employment to the south, and the entertainment to the north.”

The site also offers spectacular views of the Chicago skyline and architectural features, as well as a wide perspective along the Chicago River. What’s more, there are few better locations in the city for public transportation. The Clark-Lake CTA elevated and subway terminal just to the southeast sends commuters on their way to virtually every corner of the city on an array of rapid transit lines.

Finally, 111 W. Wacker will stand at a highly prominent downtown corner. “That makes it very important to be cognizant of where you are situated, and do a great job architecturally,” Bailey says. “That’s why we brought in one of the premier architects in the country, Gary Handel, to re-imagine the building.”

As for the development’s challenges, Bailey says a major hurdle was repurposing the original building. “Heretofore, it was to be a 90-story triangular-shaped building, and now is a 60-story rectangular-shaped building,” he says. “The planning and structural aspects were the greatest challenges.”

Significantly, there aren’t any comparable luxury apartment buildings in the North Loop to compete with 111 W. Wacker. “What we will bring [to North Loop] is market-setting luxury in both the unit finishes and common areas, and what the building looks like aesthetically,” Bailey says. “Because we’re right on the river, there’s not a lot of other product out there with this kind of view.”

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