633 South La Salle has the permits to get started. Has it started?

Construction can be confusing when you don’t pay close attention. There’s a world of activity on a site one day, then the next day all the equipment is gone, the dirt’s been smoothed over, and it looks like the lot has been abandoned.

And that’s my segue for the first visit to 633 South LaSalle in the South Loop. 633 got its first permit back in May of 2019, allowing for construction of an 18-story, 117-unit residential tower. Then, crickets. That permit was reinstated in April of 2020, but, pandemic.
Now, two new permits have been issued this spring: the first, for caissons, on March 31. The second, for the full building, on May 10. These two latest permits have a new general contractor: Clark Construction. Berkelhamer and FitzGerald are the architecture firms. The Collective in NYC is the developer.

So that’s the permit sitch. What I can’t speak to is the progress. Like I said, construction can be confusing if you’re not paying attention. The current state of the 633 South LaSalle site looks like the caisson aftermath, when the slate looks clean and ready for foundations to be dug. But I can’t find anyone with caisson photos on the web. (I’m not the only one taking photos of such things, you know.) As a result, I can’t even tell you whether work has begun here.

What I can tell you is where to find more info about this co-living development:
Chicago YIMBY
Urbanize Chicago
Real Deal Chicago

Bonus gallery: The buildings on either side of 633 are magnificent.

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The Oval on the Expressway, 727 West Madison, is rounding into form

727 West Madison

That’s 727 West Madison over there, across the Kennedy X-Way, looking all curvy and rounded.

There are lots of curve puns, oval jokes, and round remarks to be made about 727 West Madison, the 44-story apartment tower from Fifield Companies and F&F Realty. And that’s a good thing; it means the unique shape of this 492-unit apartment tower along the Kennedy Expressway in the Greektown section of the West Loop is coming into clear view. The ellipse eclipses all those squares and rectangles out there. We need some of this variety in our new architecture.

We’re counting Lendlease’s progress at about 15 stories to date. A little simple math tells you that puts them about one-third of the way to the top of the FitzGerald-designed building. And the thought of stacking two more of what’s already built gives you an idea of just how tall 727 West Madison will really be.


So this is what One South Halsted looks like from the ground

727 West Madison

727 West Madison, seen here from a *bit* of elevation, is starting to grow in the West Loop.

There are two things we need to get used to about One South Halsted around the B.U.C. South Loop Bureau. First, we no longer have our stellar overhead perspective of the 44-story apartment tower from Fifield Companies and F&F Realty. And second, it looks like we’ll need to stop using One South Halsted as a moniker, as it appears 727 West Madison is not only the address, but the name, of the project. No one asked us, but the extra syllables from that pair of 7s just don’t flow well as when you have a one-word number in the there. “One” plays. “One” works. Oh well. We’ll adjust.

727 West Madison

A June view of 727 West Madison from the original B.U.C. HQ. #neverforget

We took a walk around One Sou— ugh, See? There I go again — 727 West Madison last week to check on Lendlease’s progress, and the curvyness of the tower’s elliptical shape is coming into view. The tower itself is heading toward the sixth floor, while the podium is up and off the ground as well.

If you’ve gotten the feeling that curved shape is becoming a trend along the West Loop section of the Kennedy Expressway, you’re on to something. 727 West Madison joins The Parker Fulton Market in adding some rounded lines to all the right angles in the neighborhood. A brief conversation with Steve McFadden at design firm FitzGerald reveals he went with the elliptical shape to allow extra interior space within the units along those long east and west facings. Little known fact: There was to be a circular ramp leading in and out of the parking podium in the original plans (one of which went to City Council way back in October of 2012; 727 West Madison has been in the works for quite some time!) but that was rejected in favor of an easier-to-maneuver straight ramp.

1001 West Chicago (Spoke) buttons up the exterior

Spoke 1001 West Chicago

Spoke, at 1001 West Chicago Avenue, as well as 728 and 738 North Morgan Street. Yeah, it’s big.

Perhaps you’ve heard folks speak of Spoke, the mixed-use development from Bond Companies formerly referred to as 1001 West Chicago, on the grounds of the former Gonnella Baking Company. Though we haven’t Spoken to an official Spokesman for Spoke, it has its own website now, so that name must be official.

I made the Spokes of a Divvy bike go round and round to get up to River West and check on Power Construction’s progress. With the tower crane long gone (Spoke topped out on March 9), glass and brick have taken over the site, and the exterior is close to being finished. The FitzGerald Associates design for the dual-tower project brings 15- and 13-story buildings containing 363 apartments, 300 parking spots, and 10,000 square feet of retail space.

Not down yet, but the 3Eleven tower crane is out of commission

3Eleven tower crane removal

The tower crane at 3Eleven has been lowered below the top of the building. You know what that means.

Having served its city well, the tower crane at 3Eleven (311 West Illinois Street) is on the way down. The John Buck Company’s 25-story apartment building topped out in April, and the cladding has nearly reached the top of the tower. Now the work is done for this pretty yellow Liebherr 316 EC-H 12 Litronic tower crane.

Where will it end up next? Well, this is purely speculation, but the tower crane permit for the Nobu Hotel at 854 West Randolph Street in the West Loop calls for the exact same type of Liebherr crane. “Hmmm,” you might say.

The long-awaited One South Halsted tower crane is up

727 West Madison tower crane

There it is, finally! One South Halsted put up a tower crane for me.

727 West Madison tower crane

Old Glory, and a Glorious Golden Tower Crane.

The shiny yellow tower crane stub that tantalized us for so long at One South Halsted has finally blossomed into a full-blown Liebherr 316-EC-H 12 crane, spreading joy and heavy materials throughout the Greektown neighborhood of the West Loop.

Twitter user @iYarn let us know last week while we were enjoying the Tower Cranes of London that assembly had started, and the tower crane was completed and operational upon our return. Sorry to have missed it, but the hours of entertainment it’ll provide will more than make up for that disappointment.

One South Halsted builds a tower crane

Many thanks to Adebayo Onigbanjo (Twitter user @iyarn) for keeping me up to speed on the tower crane at One South Halsted. These photos are from Thursday; alas, the excitement of London got the better of my attention span, so by now, I presume the crane is fully assembled and lifting the heavy stuff.

One South Halsted is planting a beautiful yellow tower crane, and all is right with the world

Guess what we’re getting, West Loop! A shiny yellow Liebherr 316-EC-H 12 tower crane (stub), courtesy of One South Halsted.


3Eleven has topped out, endangering yet another Chicago Tower Crane

3Eleven topped out

The top of the topped-out 3Eleven, at 311 West Illinois Street in River North.

Word came down from Power Construction that 3Eleven, the 25-story apartment tower from The John Buck Company, topped out this past Friday. Sure, that’s mostly good news. Good news in that the 245 apartments in the FitzGerald Associates-designed tower will are that much closer to being inhabitable. Good news in that the 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space can soon open to new businesses. Good news in that parishioners at Assumption Catholic Church will soon have parking again, after the church parking lot was removed to make room for 3Eleven.

But the topping out also means we lose another tower crane in Chicago. One of the pretty yellow ones, too. And you know how much I love those. Who else remembers August of last year, when the stub was first planted, like a newborn baby coming home from the hospital? Sigh. I promised myself I wasn’t going to cry….

Here are some photos of the topped-out 3Eleven. Look at them, while I try to compose myself.


Quick look: That’s a wrap on One South Halsted caisson work

One South Halsted caissons

Unless there’s new technology allowing caisson to be dug without rigs, caissons look finished at One South Halsted.

A look after dark down on the One South Halsted site Monday night shows only one caisson rig remaining on site, and a horizontal one at that. The only logical conclusion one could make from this is that caissons are done.

As you may have guessed, I’m willing to skip straight to the tower crane portion of our program, but we’ll have to let Lendlease make that decision. For now, Case Foundation still has some equipment to remove from the lot, like augers and that big yellow rig lying on the ground. Then crews can get busy on the next phase of foundation work.

One South Halsted caissons One South Halsted caissons