After winning the approval of the Chicago Plan Commission in August, a 345-foot-tall apartment tower slated for Chicago's Gold Coast has cleared another important hurdle. On Wednesday, the city's Committee on Zoning, Landmarks, and Building Standards voted in favor of the 304-unit project, which will replace the former Barnes & Noble bookstore at the southwest corner of State and Elm.

Solomon Cordwell Buenz

Developed by Quick's LLC, an affiliate of Chicago-based Newcastle Limited, the 30-story proposal has been under discussion for more than two years. The developer initially pitched a 39-story tower with 368 apartments but was shot down by Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd). Designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz, the revised development features a glassy facade with several setbacks that align with the heights of nearby buildings. 

The tower also includes commercial retail space and a 132-car parking garage. A second subarea within the site's boundaries would redevelop the next-door Lou Malnati's pizzeria property with a new two-story commercial building. The structure would be set back from State street and line up with the adjacent Viceroy Hotel to create an oversized sidewalk for outdoor dining. Lou Malnati's currently has a long-term lease at 1120 N. State, so it's unclear when phase two would begin. 

Solomon Cordwell Buenz

Although the site's underlying zoning of DX-7 Downtown Mixed-Use District remains unchanged under the plan, Ald. Hopkins and other city officials had to review and approve the project's Residential-Business Planned Development. The full City Council still needs to sign off on the measure, which could happen as soon as next week. 

The developer is required to provide 10 percent affordable housing units and will fulfill its obligation by building eight of the required 30 apartments on-site and make a $4.1 million cash payment into the city's affordable housing fund. New citywide rules requiring 20 percent affordability take effect in October, so the State Street project could be one of the last big high-rises to squeak in under the old regulations.  

Newcastle hopes to begin demolition of the former bookstore building in spring 2022. Construction on the new apartment tower is expected to start no earlier than fall 2022 and wrap up in the first half of 2024. 

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