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03.19.2014
Pushing Up
BlitzLake promotes Hirsch Associates-designed project for Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood.
The development would increase density, and thus pedestrian traffic, in the area.
Courtesy Hirsch Associates

The epicenter of Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood is the intersection of Clark and Belmont, where people come from all over the city to enjoy boutique shopping and eclectic cuisine. But despite the high-traffic—the nearby elevated train station alone sees 41 million passengers each year—the neighborhood lacked a centerpiece. If developer BlitzLake Capital Partners has its way, however, that could be soon changing. The corner lot, currently home to a large parking lot and a Dunkin’ Donuts, has changed hands after 50 years. Plans for a new mixed-use development are in the making.

BlitzLake purchased the property at 3200 North Clark Street in June, with the notion of building a complex with 100 residential apartment units—a combination of studios, one-bedrooms, and two-bedrooms meant to appeal to the young urban professional—115 parking spaces, and 50,000 square feet of retail space. “We wanted to bring a more vibrant, architecturally beautiful building, cultivating the right number of units and retail space,” said BlitzLake Capital managing principal David Blitz. “It’s our intent to put a grocer as the anchor tenant, as well as cultivating the smaller, local shops to promote local small businesses in the retail section.”

 

The proposed design is 11 stories at its highest point, and features a glass and glazed terracotta facade. BlitzLake is currently waiting for final approval from the alderman and local community groups before moving forward.

Finding the right design for the area proved to be a labor of love. “Initially we proposed a 9-story glass building with no set backs,” said Blitz. The community wasn’t on board. Alderman Tom Tunney encouraged the team to look toward landmark buildings in other neighborhoods as inspiration. He pointed to Wicker Park’s Northwest Building. A presentation from the developers added another art deco tower on a corner lot in a nearby high-traffic intersection: the Bridgeview Bank building in Uptown.

“He wanted something that inspired people to say this was the heart of the Lakeview Neighborhood,” said Howard Hirsch, president of Hirsch Associates, the architect on the project. According to Andrew Myren, project designer and director of design at Hirsch Associates, the final product puts a new twist on an old concept, making some references back to early high-rises in Chicago. The design features a tower on the corner and lower-rise elevations on the streets. The finishes blend in with the traditional terracotta buildings that are prevalent in the Lakeview neighborhood. “We were able to create a building that transitioned to the scale of the neighborhood, while still allowing this taller corner element to be the landmark,” said Hirsch.

Despite the recent modifications in the design, there are still some groups against the new development. The initial rendering was criticized for using materials that stood out in the neighborhood, plus the height was uniform on all sides, blocking views from existing buildings. Now critics are focused on how the new development will impact traffic patterns, property taxes, and neighborhood retailers. Meetings have been held to address the concerns, but those conversations are ongoing.

“For the most part it has been very well received by the neighbors,” said Tunney spokesperson Erin Duffy. “The new revision is just a lot more prominent and I think people are a lot more pleased with the architecture of the building and how it has been designed.”

If approved, the project could break ground as early as this summer, with a lead-time of 15 to 18 months.

Ashley Devick