Developer Fern Hill presented an outline of their development surrounding the corner of W. North Ave and N. LaSalle St. After initially announcing their plans back in October 2021, the developers returned to detail their takeaways from over a year of community engagement via multiple meetings and their website https://www.engagefernhill.com/.
After the extensive community engagement process, Fern Hill has identified eight common themes:
- Concern around increase of violent crime and theft
- Northern progression of the Wells street nightlife and bar scene
- Preserve and enhance the unique historical charm of Wells street
- A walkable neighborhood grocery store
- Promote opportunities for community interaction
- Rethink the gas station properties
- Address vacant properties and disengaged storefronts
- A plan for organizing and managing growth
Anchored by Moody Church, the Chicago History Museum, and the Latin School of Chicago, Fern Hill identified this area as the Cultural Triangle. It’s currently challenged by the surrounding auto-dominated streets and gas stations at key corners, creating a hostile space for pedestrians. Additionally, area institutions currently deal with congested drop-off and delivery operations.
To improve the area, the project proposes a road diet along N. Clark St between N. LaSalle Dr and W. North Ave. Wider sidewalks will encourage pedestrian use, while the narrower street will calm traffic and promote biking. The plan would rework the drop-off and delivery strategies to improve operations for area institutions and neighbors.
To develop the Cultural Triangle, Fern Hill proposed limiting any new construction to a contextual height limit that matches Moody Church. While they don’t own the Wintrust property, Fern Hill believes any kind of high rise would not be the appropriate response for this site.
Considered the Old Town Triangle, this second portion includes the parking lot at W. North Ave and N. LaSalle St and the Treasure Island retail space. With the empty Treasure Island space, Fern Hill is actively working to get a grocer back into the space. They are currently in conversation with a few brands, but they have not been able to close a deal yet due to the challenging physical structure, which is owned by the 1660 N. LaSalle Condo Association.
Planning a unified development, Fern Hill has planned to consolidate the new development to the parking lot at the northwest corner of W. North Ave and N. LaSalle Dr. Placing the new development here will preserve adjacent historic structures as well as preserve views from adjacent residential towers.
With no specific plans shown for the new construction, a representative from Fern Hill explained that they will continue with stakeholder meetings in February and March before presenting renderings and plans for the new building later this spring. Adjaye Associates will be designing the new architecture in collaboration with local architect GREC Architects.