Stuff That’s Done: 61 Banks Street is open on Lake Shore Drive

There aren’t many surface parking lots along the west side of Lake Shore Drive. And at the end of 2017, one of them was torn up to make room for a new apartment building.

61 Banks Street in a 58-unit rental development at 61 East Banks St., obvs. At eight stories, it’s short enough that it doesn’t block many views behind it, but since it sits right on the lakefront, its own views must be amazing.

Draper & Kramer, who we just dropped in on recently at 2111 South Wabash, is 61’s developer. Booth Hansen is the design architect; Leopardo Companies was on the build. The building opened to tenants in June 2019.

Stuff That’s Done: Renelle on the River

Renelle on the River, from Across the River.

Renelle on the River is an 18-story condominium tower in the River North neighborhood. It was built atop an existing parking garage at 403 North Wabash Ave once topped by a small plaza park. The garage was built with future use in mind, so no additional caissons were required. It was a unique project to watch get started.

Renelle on the River is a design by bKL Architecture, and was built by James McHugh Construction. Developer Belgravia Group delivered its 50 condos to residents last year.

Stuff That’s Done: NEMA Chicago

NEMA Chicago started out as One Grant Park. I liked that name. It didn’t give you the address, but you still knew right where it must be. You know, that really really tall one at the south end of the park. Alas, things and names change.

Thursday, James McHugh Construction sent out the above tweet, announcing they’ve done all they can do at NEMA, more than three years after taking control of the empty lot at Indiana and Michigan Avenues, and Roosevelt Road.

There are 800 apartments in this brand new 76-story skyscraper, and if the views of Chicago aren’t enough for you, it also has about a kajillion square feet of amenity space. It’s a marvelous design by Rafael Viñoly Architects. Crescent Heights is the developer. NEMA Chicago opened to residents in July 2019.

Is the Toyoko Inn Chicago still a thing?

Is this recent work at the Toyoko Inn Chicago site?

There should be a hotel standing at 320 South Clinton by now. Guests should be having Beggar’s Pizza delivered to their rooms from next door, then stopping around the corner for breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s in the morning. Then returning to their rooms to watch construction across the street on the new Union Station Tower. But nope. What was supposed to be the Toyoko Inn Chicago is still an empty lot, albeit an empty lot with enough caissons sunk into the ground to support the weight of a 24-story hotel.

The only progress made at the Toyoko is a small hole in the ground where the foundation may (or may not) have been started. It can’t be a pool; all that rebar sticking up would be extremely prohibitive to swimming. And diving would be downright dangerous. What I don’t know is how recently that hole was created.

So what gives? Will Toyoko Inn Chicago ever happen? Is the hole a sign it’s happening now? Is this still even going to be the Toyoko still? Or is the site destined to the purgatory that is Spireville? More questions than answers, I have.

Caisson work, May 2018

Caisson crews at work, May 2018

Caissons are done, but where’s the tower crane? June 2018

Sensational Headline To Over-Dramatize A Situation To Make It Sound Much More Serious Than It Really Is [UPDATED]

110 North Wacker

Probably not telling you anything you haven’t figured out on your own here…

On July 10, this website will go dark.

Or maybe it won’t; maybe it will still be available to read, but will just be harder to find. Point is, the blog costs money to maintain whether or not I post content here, and since I am no longer consistently posting content, it doesn’t make sense to keep putting money into it. So on July 10, my website expires, and I won’t be renewing. I’m not sure what WordPress does with a domain when it goes back to being an unpaid site; we’ll see in a few weeks.

It was fun to take construction photos around Chicago when I lived in the midst of all the action. Now all the action is a train ride away. And I no longer find myself interested in the construction goings-on that used to fascinate me so much. I no longer enjoy aimlessly wandering the city looking for tower cranes. I no longer enjoy weeding through 100s of images from my camera to find the dozen or so that turned out well enough to share. I no longer enjoy trying to come up with a couple or three sentences to explain what the images captured. When a hobby is no longer fun, it’s work. And when the work doesn’t provide an income, it’s a waste of time. My blog has become a waste of my own time.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for scrolling through photos. Thank you for asking me what was what, what was where, and what would be done when. It was fun sharing answers when I knew them.

Thank you to all the architecture firms, construction companies, and developers who shared their resources, time, and knowledge with me. Special shout-out to everyone at Power Construction, for letting me inside two of your projects as they were going up. I’m still amazed, and forever grateful, for the access you gave me. And to you, FitzGerald, for taking the time to sit down with me on multiple occasions when I had questions.

Who knows, maybe I’ll pick up where I’ve left off someday. But I’ve tried that a couple times already, and it hasn’t worked out. We’ll see.

Thank you again, everyone. Sincerely. Knowing people were reading was the only reason to do this.

Dan

***August 26, 2019: Nothing happened. It’s all still here. I have no idea what I was paying for. Google Analytics, I guess…

I’ve missed a lot; Milieu West Loop Edition

Milieu on the Park

Milieu (on the Park?) has risen to its full height at Adams & Peoria (205 S. Peoria) in the West Loop.

The last time I walked around Milieu in the West Loop, Power Construction had just set up the tower crane. Now, the tower crane is gone, and Milieu (Is it Milieu on the Park? That’s what White Oak Realty Partners calls it. I kinda like it.) is up. The FitzGerald-designed apartment building is slated to open this summer.

 

Even if The Blog never returns, I’ll live in infamy on Google Maps

Google Maps Hoxton State and Green

Google Maps image at State and Green Streets in the West Loop.

It was Tower Crane Assembly Day at the Hoxton Chicago Hotel in the West Loop. After watching for awhile, I headed elsewhere around town, as I normally did on a busy walking day. I saw the Google car drive by and waved. I’ve been waiting for the map update ever since. And here it is. Famous.

First row of glorious glass has been installed on Ancora at Riverline

Ancora at Riverline

That’s some good-looking glass across the river at Ancora.

Ancora, the Phase One tower of CMK CompaniesRiverline development in the South Loop, has reached another milestone, as the first level of glass stretches around the exterior. That would be the 7th floor of Perkins+Will’s 29-story, 452-unit design. Overall, co-developer and general contractor Lendlease has the tower at or near the 23rd floor. It’s hard to tell with all that orange wrapping and yellow formwork, but those materials are worth the obstructed view when the setting sunlight hits it.

The Phase Two tower was initially reported to be called “Current,” an 18-story tower with 251 condominiums and 28 townhomes. But the Riverline website no longer includes information about that building.

Wolf Point East digs in for the long haul

Wolf Point East

Excavation crews work atop the trestle bridge as digging continues at Wolf Point East.

Wolf Point East was one of my first stops upon returning to Chicago. Mostly to see that trestle bridge in action, but also to see how much progress Walsh Construction has made on one of the city’s newest skyscrapers. No surprise that the bridge is being used to help with the deep excavation going on now. Truckload after truckload of dirt and mud and Chicago River muck is being hauled away, while diggers great and small eat away at the earth between the bracing.

We should be keeping an eye out for a tower crane permit at Wolf Point East. It could be coming any day now.