CHICAGO | North Union (Moody Bible Campus) | 630 + 512 + 509 FT | FLOORS


Views of North Union Development. Rendering by JDL Development

878 N Wells Street. Rendering by JDL Development

909 N Franklin Street. Rendering by JDL Development

205 W Oak Street. Rendering by JDL Development

2021
Site Plan for North Union Development. Rendering by JDL Development

Phase One starts modestly, on the block bounded by West Locust, North Wells, West Chestnut, and North Franklin Streets. It includes three buildings:

  • 871 North Franklin Street: The 1922 Neely building to be converted into 23 homes
  • 232 West Chestnut Street at five stories with 35 homes
  • 878 North Wells Street at 21 stories with 389 new homes

The trio would be clustered in a horseshoe around a 20,000 square-foot park opening onto Locust.

2023

Phase Two is shorter, but more dense than Phase One. It’s the block bounded by West Walton, North Wells, West Locust, and North Franklin Streets.

  • 213 West Walton Street: four-story house with one home
  • 215 West Walton Street: four-story house with one home
  • 217 West Walton Street: four-story house with one home
  • 216 West Locust Street: two story Moody Bible Institute athletic facility
  • 221 West Walton Street: The 1892 Fire Patrol Station #2, to be renovated into a two-story home.
  • 909 North Franklin Street: 12 stories with 100 homes
  • 920 North Wells Street: 15 stories with 186 homes

2025

Phase Three is both big and small. On the small end is four banks of four-story townhouses at 235 West Oak Street, for a total of 24 homes. On the tall end is 205 West Oak, a 42-story building with 340 new homes.

2027

Phase Four is another bank of six townhouses, lining another 20,000 square-foot park. Behind that, a 30-story tower at 312 West Walton Street, sporting 340 new homes.

2029

Phase Five has the fewest buildings, but is the most ambitious. A pair of towers at 300 and 310 West Oak Street connected by a parking podium. 300 is 55 stories with 633 homes, and 310 is 47 stories with 508 homes. There’s also separate dog parks for large and small critters, and an off-street cul-de-sac to keep the vehicles for those 1,411 new homes from clogging up traffic. This part of North Union will be right next to Walton Payton High School, in that big grassy field that you’ve seen a million times while cruising north on the Brown Line, looking for the big “34” on the side of the school.

A few more tidbits:

  • Size: 2,849,999 square feet
  • Total residences: 2,588
  • Affordable residences: 236
  • Affordable housing payment: $21,000,000
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I was hoping for so much more after JDL pulled off One Chicago. This era of mega-projects needs to stop. We are limiting the future of large parts of the city to a singular budget, vision and priorities. We have zoning laws for everything except not allowing developers to buy huge sawths of land and sit on them for decades as they roll-out phases. Seeing these sites parceled out lot-by-lot and restoring them completely to the grid should be the goal of the city.

After watching the meeting it was clear that Jim Letchinger’s statement of trying to fit in rather than stand out is on full display. This trend of building heights, materials and scale having to reference and “respect” nearby existing buidlings is super-restrictive and constrains ambition. To hear a developer speak so proudly of keeping heights and densities as low as possible is the antithesis of what the end goal should be for creating a so-called world class development.

These boxes that must be ticked to appease alderman and community extremists are absolutely destroying innovation and have fostered an era of banality I would have believed was unimaginable in Chicago with its historic architectual superiority. Chicago needs to seriously address its deficiencies with other global cities when it comes to planning, design and scale.

These are some of the disturbing similarities that I see with development all over the city:

  1. Materials fit with the character of the neighborhood.

  2. Building heights do not overwhelmingly exceed existing neighbors.

  3. Density will not dramatically increase pedestrian, public transit or vehicular traffic.

  4. Parking will be provided without a focus on ending auto dependency.

  5. Park space and public plazas will account for a significant portion of land-use.

  6. Activity is forced away from major arteries as to not cause vibrant atmospheres.

  7. Low-rise town-homes will be arbitrarily shoe-horned into the project to reduce scale.

And on and on we go…

These projects are just today’s Sandburg Village, Cabrini Green and Dearborn Park. Pre-planned ready made communities are not high quality, dense urban developments. Our greatest accomplishments would be impossible to build today because of the stranglehold that stakeholders have over land-use. No way could you build Sears Tower in todays’ Chicago that was 4 times taller than anything around it when it was built. Or Aon that was pretty much all alone without precedent for building that tall in that area.

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An online meeting is planned for March 24th at 6 pm.

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What a beautiful project.

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More information and renderings can be found here:

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Groundbreaking is scheduled for March next year for the first building.

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Very nice.

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