A proposal from Vancouver-based Pacific Reach Properties for a pair of glassy apartment towers at 601 W. Monroe Street is forging ahead in the city's approval process after the developer filed a recent zoning application for the West Loop Gate project.

Rising 47 and 40 stories (535 and 465 feet, respectively) atop a shared podium, the Solomon Cordwell Buenz-designed towers would bring 1,053 rental units, 30,000 square feet of retail, and 430 parking spaces to a 1.5-acre site located between the four Presidential Towers, Heritage Green Park, and Old St. Patrick’s Church. The location is currently home to a surface parking lot. 

The developer's 2018 proposal (left), which was rejected by Alderman Reilly, versus the current 2021 proposal (right).Solomon Cordwell Buenz

The two-phase proposal was first revealed by Ald. Brendan Reilly in a February 19 newsletter to neighbors. Reilly said the developer had been working on the proposal since 2018 and the team incorporated a number of changes at the alderman's request. Revisions include cutting the towers down from their original heights of 54 and 47 stories, eliminating a hotel component, increasing retail space, and slightly curbing the amount of parking.

The project falls under the city's existing Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) which requires projects that receive a zoning change to provide 10 percent affordable housing (an updated version of the ordinance takes effect in October and bumps the requirements to 20 percent for downtown projects). Pacific Reach will provide seven of its required 105 affordable units on-site and satisfy the remainder of its obligation by paying into the city's Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund, according to the application. The developers will also pay the city $5.5 million for a density bonus. 

Mark Marshall, senior vice president of development and construction at Pacific Reach, told the Chicago Tribune in February that his company was "definitely optimistic" about the apartment market rebounding post-COVID. If approvals go as planned, the developer aims to break ground on the taller 47-story east tower in early 2022 and deliver the building in mid-2024. The 40-story western tower would open in 2025, Marshall told the newspaper. 

Though not quite as "booming" as Fulton Market to the west, the area between the Chicago River and Kennedy Expressway is seeing an impressive share of real estate activity. Recent office projects like the adaptive reuse of the Old Post Office will be joined by upcoming commercial developments like BMO Tower and 609 W. Randolph Street. Construction is currently underway on a 373-unit apartment development at 354 N. Union Avenue , and the Chicago Plan Commission recently approved a 413-unit rental tower for the parking lot at 640 W. Washington Boulevard.