After Urbanize’s reveal of plans for a mixed-use development at 1649 N. Halsted, a recent community meeting has shed light on the project. Led by Draper and Kramer, the project will replace the shuttered Royal George Theater and adjacent four-story structure to the south. According to Alderman Hopkins, the former theater space is now considered obsolete as it has been marketed to other theater companies including Steppenwolf and ultimately the size, capacity, and configuration in a post-COVID era make it undesirable to continue using it as a theater.
With SGW Architecture and Design in charge of the architecture, the building will stand eight floors high with a ninth partial floor that will hold amenity space and connect to an outdoor roof deck. Providing 133 rental units, the project’s unit mix will consist of 12 studios, 25 one-beds, 68 loft-style one-beds (borrowed light bedrooms), 26 two-beds, and a final 2 three-bedroom apartments. At the ground floor, retail space will stretch along the majority of the street frontage, targeted for restaurant use. Parking for 35 cars will be located in an enclosed garage off the alley.
Inspired by the theater past of the site and vibrant theater community of the area, the front facade is a subtle allusion to a theater curtain, folding the glass wall to create a rippling effect reinforced by the slab edge covers that reference a modern treatment of bay windows. The mass of the building is designed to align with the approved building planned to the south of this site, and the top floor of units have been pulled back from the street frontage to reduce the mass of the building along the street.
To improve the streetscape along the building, the ground floor facade has been pulled back to increase the depth of the sidewalk and provide generous space for a potential sidewalk cafe and outdoor dining treatment for retail users. The residential entry will be placed at the north end of the street frontage, giving a long, uninterrupted stretch of retail inside the building.
Steppenwolf has been in collaboration with the developers as they have worked on conceptualizing the project. The developers originally envisioned a small cafe inside the retail space but have forgone that to help promote Steppenwolf’s Front Bar Cafe. The development will also set aside approximately 4-7 units for Steppenwolf artist and staff housing.
During the meeting, questions surfaced about the parking count and some neighbors were concerned about not having enough parking. The developers outlined how their parking count is in line with trends for TOD projects and if they sell out of their parking, this would deter other renters who would want a parking space from living in the building.
Alderman Hopkins chimed in to say that they could write into the Planned Development a condition that would restrict renters in the building from accessing residential parking permits for the area. Ultimately, the Lincoln Central Association and Ranch Triangle Association expressed their concern for the density and height of the project. On the other hand, the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce expressed full support for the project and welcomed the extra activity and population coming into the neighborhood to activate the area.
The development will be seeking a rezoning from B3-2 to B3-5 with an overall Planned Development designation. The estimated $53 million project will include 20 ARO units on-site at 60% AMI. Draper and Kramer is looking to secure approvals for the building this fall and begin construction this winter. Completion is targeted for Spring 2024.