The Design Commission has approved a 15-story mixed-use development at 4th & Harrison, after four Design Advice hearings and two Design Review hearings. The 175’ tall building will provide 424 residential units, with a mix of studio, one, two and three bedroom apartments. At the ground level a 33,000 sq ft supermarket is planned, as well as an additional 5,000 sq ft retail space. 208 vehicular parking spaces are proposed, split between 137 spaces for the residents, and 71 for the supermarket / retail uses. An optional 4th parking level would provide an additional 80 spaces. The building will include 656 long term bicycle parking spaces.
The project is being developed by Chicago based developer Core Spaces. The design architects for the building are Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture of Chicago, with Portland based Myhre Group Architects acting as consulting architects. The landscape design is by Portland based Lango Hansen.
The project will be located on a full block site in the South Auditorium plan district of Downtown. The site is currently used for surface car parking, and is owned by the Downtown Development Group, a company controlled by the Goodman family. The block is immediately adjacent to the Halprin Open Space Sequence, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The proposed building is arranged as a 15 story L-shaped tower, with the massing oriented to the two major streets of SW 4th and Harrison. A lower townhome volume faces onto the two pedestrian streets to the north and east.
According to the developer, the building will “have wide appeal including recent graduates and young professionals, families [and] empty-nesters.” Amenities shown on the drawings include an outdoor courtyard with a hot tub at level 2; a roof terrace with bocce ball court, a fire pit and a barbeque at level 4; and a roof deck with a hot tub and a swimming pool at level 15.
Proposed materials for the building include a structurally glazed window wall system with aluminum slab edge covers at the upper portion of south and west elevations. The rest of the building is proposed to be primarily clad with metal panels and inset windows.
The project has evolved significantly over the course of the 6 hearings before the Design Commission. Early concepts presented in 2014 showed a U-shaped building with a courtyard oriented to SW Harrison St. By the time of its fourth Design Advice the project had assumed its current L-shaped configuration. Changes made since the first Design Review hearing were largely related to the ground level, and the interface with the historic Halprin Landscape Sequence, including Pettygrove Park. The mid rise volumes facing the park have become significantly lighter, and the supermarket entry at the corner of SW 3rd and Montgomery has been redesigned to ensure it can actively used by the retailer.
There was significant neighborhood opposition to the project, primarily from residents of the nearby Harrison and American Plaza towers who are concerned about the impact the project will have on the South Auditorium area of Downtown. By the time of the hearing over 30 letters expressing concern or opposition had been received. Public testimony at the hearing was largely in opposition, though 3 people spoke in support, including developer John Russell, and Don Stastny of the Halprin Conservancy.
At the February 18th of the meeting of the Design Commission the Staff Report [PDF] was adopted by a 3-0 vote, resulting in approval for the building. Commissioners Livingston, Vallaster and Savinar voted to approve, while Commissioner Wark abstained. Before casting his vote, Commissioner Savinar noted how long it had taken for the project to get through the system:
I think this building is a really handsome building. Really extraordinary on 4th, very proud. I still have no answer for the contemplative versus active uses conversation [along the Halprin sequence], but you have responded to many of our requests to make changes in the direction that we recommended. I would also say that the process has been terrible. The presentation have not really been gentlemanly sometimes. The packages were lackluster and hard to read sometimes, and we’ve mentioned that over and over again. Streets weren’t labelled, maps weren’t labelled, north changed a number of times. Very difficult packages to read. It shouldn’t have taken you this long, because we’ve been talking about the same things since day one. You took up all these sessions, when other projects could have moved through. I do like the building. I like where it ended, but it should not have taken this long. I think you should have been a little more cooperative.
The applicants will need to obtain building permits before work can begin on site.