Riverside cleared to move forward on Union Station redevelopment

A rendering of the Union Station redevelopment and John O’Donnell

Riverside Investment & Development won a key city approval Thursday for their $900 million bid to add a hotel and office tower at Union Station in the West Loop.

The Chicago-based firm and partner Convexity went public with a revised plan for the transit center redevelopment last month, pitching a 400-key hotel inside the 93-year-old neoclassical building that’s home to the station’s Great Hall concourse, with a hidden single-story penthouse level added on top.

The plan approved by the Chicago Plan Commission on Thursday also would add about 175,000 square feet of office, retail and public space inside the station, including a new entrance and windowed shops along Clinton Street. That side of the building has been a blank concrete wall since it was damaged in a 1981 fire.

A rendering of the Union Station redevelopment

Riverside also was cleared to move forward with its 50-story office tower on the site of a 1,700-space parking garage one block south of the station, between Jackson and Van Buren streets. The tower, designed by Goettsch Partners, would include 1.5 million square feet of offices and 400 parking spaces.

At the base of the new tower, where BMO Harris reportedly is close to signing a 500,000-square-foot lease, the developer will commission New York-based Biederman Redevelopment Ventures to design a 65,000-square-foot publicly accessible park.

A rendering of the Union Station redevelopment

The station redevelopment will give the surrounding streets a more regimented parking and traffic scheme, including designated pick-up and drop-off spots for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. Two full-time traffic attendants would keep cars moving, a measure Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd) said would “address the multi-modal chaos that exists there day-in and day-out.”

An earlier plan had proposed a glassy 400-foot addition on top of the head house that would have included 404 apartments, but Riverside ditched that idea after it was panned by neighbors and design critics. Reilly on Thursday said that plan had been akin to “landing a UFO” on the building.

A rendering of the Union Station redevelopment

The redevelopment would mark Riverside’s third major Downtown project in recent years. Last year the firm completed the 54-story office building at 150 North Riverside Plaza, and this year it partnered with Howard Hughes Corporation to break ground on an 800-foot-tall office tower at 110 North Wacker Drive, where Bank of America has been announced as an anchor tenant.

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