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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 5:25 PM
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Want To Stop The Central Loop Exodus? A LaSalle Street ‘High Line’ Is Not The Answer

Column: Want To Stop The Central Loop Exodus? A LaSalle Street ‘High Line’ Is Not The Answer


Jan 09, 2020

By Blair Kamin

Read More: https://www.chicagotribune.com/colum...flq-story.html

Quote:
Beware the urban design flavor of the month.That warning is worth recalling as Chicago figures out how to deal with a wave of large vacancies that will soon hit central Loop office towers, including those along or around the LaSalle Street canyon — the heart of Chicago’s financial district, often called the Midwest’s Wall Street. In 1979, as America’s downtowns struggled to meet the challenge of suburban shopping malls, the flavor of the month was the transit mall. Make cities more like suburbs, the thinking went, and they’ll be able to compete. So Chicago cut the number of traffic lanes on State Street from six to two— for buses only — and outfitted the ultrawide sidewalks with trees, flowers and bubble-topped bus shelters. We all know how that $17 million makeover turned out.

- A recently issued study of the central Loop by commercial real estate brokers Cushman & Wakefield floats the idea of inserting a High Line-inspired elevated walkway through the heart of LaSalle Street. But unlike the High Line or Chicago’s 606 trail, which exude authenticity because they’re built on age-old elevated rail lines, the LaSalle Street walkway would be entirely new — more wanna-be cool than the real thing. --- Renderings by a little-known interior designer, Frank Botello, imagine sinuous pathways that hug the building facades and appear to run the entire length of the canyon, from Wacker Drive on the north to Jackson Street on the south. Pedestrians would climb stairs at the LaSalle-Wacker intersection to an over-the-street platform that leads to the walkway. In some spots, the walkway would cover the street, shutting off views of the iconic Chicago Board of Trade Building from street level.

- Welcome to Lower LaSalle! The pathway would combat the perception that LaSalle is a stuffy, “old school” street lined by intimidating temples of finance, the study claims. “With thoughtful modification," it goes on, “LaSalle Street can become the live-work-play nucleus of the Central Loop." Sorry, but LaSalle needs help like this like a 401(k) investor needs a stock market crash. It’s radical elective surgery that would mar a singular ensemble of skyscrapers. --- The LaSalle Street canyon presents a dazzling array of styles, from the suave Art Deco of the Board of Trade to muscular classicism of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it’s "the only remaining, cohesive collection” that illustrates the development of Chicago’s downtown core, according to the National Park Service, which monitors the register.

- Plop an elevated walkway in this sublime canyon and you would mar the beautifully detailed ground-level facades of LaSalle’s buildings, throwing them into perpetual, Lower Wacker gloom. The street would be rendered virtually unrecognizable. --- So what’s a better response to the central Loop exodus, which has longtime corporate tenants fleeing to shiny new skyscrapers along the Chicago River or entirely new office markets like the Fulton Market district? First, don’t panic. Some short-term loss of tenants was probably inevitable, though it remains to be seen how quickly the vacant spaces fill up — or don’t. As Eleanor Gorski, who leads the downtown efforts of Chicago’s planning department, told me, city officials purposely expanded high-rise zoning beyond the traditional downtown core so Chicago would have a fresh supply of state-of-the-art office space.

.....



A rendering shows a High Line-inspired elevated walkway over LaSalle Street from Wacker Drive to Jackson Street. (Design Credit: Frank Botello and Cushman & Wakefield)






Pedestrians would ascend stairs at the intersection of LaSalle Street and Wacker Drive to access the elevated walkway over LaSalle Street. (Design Credit: Frank Botello and Cushman & Wakefield)






Nightlife is shown on a reimagined lower LaSalle Street. (Design Credit: Frank Botello and Cushman & Wakefield)






The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago at 230 S. LaSalle St. in Chicago on Jan. 8, 2020. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune)






The Rookery Building at LaSalle and Adams streets in Chicago on Jan. 8, 2020. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune)






The Chicago Board of Trade can be seen from the intersection of North LaSalle and West Randolph streets in Chicago on Jan. 8, 2020. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune)

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  #2  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 5:44 PM
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What a terrible idea.
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 5:52 PM
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perhaps interesting from a theoretical "outside of the box" thought exercise perspective.

but monumentally stupid from a practical standpoint.

this will not happen.
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 6:02 PM
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Imagining how horrible that underpass would become in 10 years is really depressing.
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 6:11 PM
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Perhaps if it were much higher up to not disrupt the appearance at street level and have an added bonus of being an observation platform or something.
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 6:12 PM
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I worked at 30 N LaSalle for years. Don't like this at all. LaSalle is fine as it is, one of my favorite streets in downtown, easily. Why does LaSalle need nightlife anyway?
The Riverwalk is a better destination for that.
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 6:17 PM
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build a batman ride on a monorail that goes back and forth
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 6:20 PM
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Something like this could work if a city is designed from the ground up to have two levels. A dark dingy lower level for cars, utilities and garage entrances and a bright upper landscaped level for pedestrians and storefronts. This upper level would actually be the architectural "floor" of a building with the main entrance. It's a concept I've thought about quite a bit.

But retrofitting existing buildings in this way is a bad idea. It just creates more dark corners in the bowels of the city and at the same time destroys the existing building facades and street level urban fabric.
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 6:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badrunner View Post
Something like this could work if a city is designed from the ground up to have two levels. A dark dingy lower level for cars, utilities and garage entrances and a bright upper landscaped level for pedestrians and storefronts. This upper level would actually be the architectural "floor" of a building with the main entrance. It's a concept I've thought about quite a bit.

But retrofitting existing buildings in this way is a bad idea. It just creates more dark corners in the bowels of the city and at the same time destroys the existing building facades and street level urban fabric.
downtown chicago of course already has this. /in first
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 6:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Handro View Post
Imagining how horrible that underpass would become in 10 years is really depressing.
It'll end up looking something like this: https://goo.gl/maps/w6CcPiAd3dqf45Sg6

Often used in movies when a gritty dystopian urban setting is needed. Great for deliveries and garbage collection. Not great for pedestrians.
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 6:29 PM
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you couldnt do that in portland. maybe as a way to get tents out of downtown and build the undercover area somewhere further away.
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 6:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badrunner View Post
Something like this could work if a city is designed from the ground up to have two levels. A dark dingy lower level for cars, utilities and garage entrances and a bright upper landscaped level for pedestrians and storefronts. This upper level would actually be the architectural "floor" of a building with the main entrance. It's a concept I've thought about quite a bit.

But retrofitting existing buildings in this way is a bad idea. It just creates more dark corners in the bowels of the city and at the same time destroys the existing building facades and street level urban fabric.
Can't tell if this whole post is meant to be sarcastic or not...

Chicago's Lower Wacker has existed for years and is a pretty famous example of the exact concept you're describing.
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 6:44 PM
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There is a central loop exodus? With large office vacancies?

This is the first time I'm hearing this.
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 6:45 PM
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yeah why don't people shop on lower wacker?

wait, maybe they do
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 6:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badrunner View Post
Something like this could work if a city is designed from the ground up to have two levels. A dark dingy lower level for cars, utilities and garage entrances and a bright upper landscaped level for pedestrians and storefronts. This upper level would actually be the architectural "floor" of a building with the main entrance. It's a concept I've thought about quite a bit.
Uhhh, have you never been to Chicago? Or are you being sarcastic?
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 6:59 PM
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Originally Posted by edale View Post
Can't tell if this whole post is meant to be sarcastic or not...

Chicago's Lower Wacker has existed for years and is a pretty famous example of the exact concept you're describing.
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Originally Posted by The North One View Post
Uhhh, have you never been to Chicago? Or are you being sarcastic?
You guys sound desperate or something. Obviously there are isolated examples of it here and there like Wacker dr and Grand ave. I was thinking a little bigger though. As in, a city designed form the ground up to have two levels. You know, exactly what I wrote
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 7:05 PM
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Adding pedestrian overpasses and walkways is generally not the answer. The elevated walkways themselves might be kinda cool, but whatever is left below them becomes a dark, forgotten wasteland. Retrofitting or deleting existing overpasses or elevated freeways/railways is fine though.
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 7:24 PM
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If you build it they (bums) will come...also what types of tenants are leaving?? Where are they going?
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 7:27 PM
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Originally Posted by badrunner View Post
You guys sound desperate or something. Obviously there are isolated examples of it here and there like Wacker dr and Grand ave. I was thinking a little bigger though. As in, a city designed form the ground up to have two levels. You know, exactly what I wrote
Desperate? Nah, you just sound clueless. Proposing a concept that has existed for many years just a few blocks from this latest proposal for Lasalle St as if it's something completely novel.
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Old Posted Jan 16, 2020, 7:38 PM
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Originally Posted by pdxtex View Post
If you build it they (bums) will come...also what types of tenants are leaving?? Where are they going?
The article is a bit of an exaggeration. I think there has been a slight loss in occupancy on LaSalle street as tenants have moved to other CBD locations. There is no real problem. The Downtown Chicago office market just had its best leasing year since 2007.

Last edited by Vlajos; Jan 16, 2020 at 8:23 PM.
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