James McHugh Construction Co. has finished construction on two Chicago communities, one of which is now the city’s tallest residential-only building. The general contractor’s latest completed projects add nearly 1,000 units to the city with Westerly and NEMA Chicago.
In Chicago’s River West neighborhood, the mixed-use development Westerly offers 188 units and 2,400 square feet of ground-floor retail. The 11-story community offers studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom units that range in size from 544 to 1,513 square feet. Within the building, residents get access to a bike kitchen and storage, fitness center, resident lounge, party room, coffee bar, conference center and coworking space. Westerly’s exterior amenities include a terrace, pool, cabanas, grilling stations and seating and dining areas.
The developer, Fifield Cos., tapped FitzGerald Associates Architects to design Westerly, while again hiring McHugh Construction to build the community. After breaking ground on the project in July 2019, the general contractor topped off the community in November 2019. According to McHugh Construction, the company hit substantial completion on the project three weeks ahead of schedule in October 2020.
Ray Cisco, project executive with McHugh Construction, said in prepared remarks that Westerly is the eighth project the general contractor has built for Fifield Cos. in the last 12 years. The project also allowed McHugh Construction to work again with FitzGerald Associates, Cisco added in his prepared statement.
CHICAGO’S TALLEST RESIDENTIAL-ONLY BUILDING
On a much larger scale, McHugh Construction also completed the 76-story NEMA Chicago, which is the city’s tallest all residential building at 896 feet. The 800-unit luxury community was designed by Rafael Viñoly and offers 70,000 square feet of amenity space including a fitness center, event space, bar lounge, indoor and outdoor lounges, two swimming pools and sauna and steam rooms.
McHugh Construction was tapped by developer Crescent Heights and broke ground on NEMA Chicago in 2016 and topped off the community in 2018. The community saw its first move-ins in May 2019 while McHugh continued interior construction on the remaining floors from 48 to 76.
During this time, McHugh also intentionally left a large section of the 48th floor as empty amenity space to gauge what residents would prefer as the project got closer to full completion. The space was originally slated to become a yoga studio, but the developer wanted to shift the design to office/business suites due to the popularity of the community’s coworking spaces amidst the pandemic. Dave Steffenhagen, McHugh Construction’s senior project manager for NEMA Chicago, said in prepared remarks that the company was able to repurpose the space into more coworking spaces by leaving it purposely vacant until the last possible moment in the construction schedule. McHugh Construction eventually completed NEMA Chicago in September 2020.