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“Polk Street Canyon” By Any Other Name…

(Photo: Pardon me, could you move a little to the left? Original Credit: Terrapin Properties.)

Let’s be clear: it is not “the community of Printers Row” that is behind the newly created website SavePrintersRow.com, no matter what the website’s front page claims.

The malcontents of “Polk Street Canyon”, a.k.a. several homeowners of the Folio Square condominium at 124 W. Polk Street, had created their now-defunct website, Move the Tower, to protest a decision by Terrapin Properties not to spend millions of dollars to redesign plans for Burnham Pointe, an adjacent new tower that, if not altered, would block Folio Square’s eastern view across Clark Street.

But Printers Row Alderman Madeline Haithcock is verbosely on record saying Terrapin is entirely within their legal rights to build, so Folio Square needed to find a new rallying cry.

The new website, a blog with a single posting, seems a pale, rushed copy of the old, leading one to wonder whether someone at Folio Square simply forgot to pay the domain renewal fee for the old site (and so much for spending all year spelling out the old URL across Folio Square’s eastern windows).

But the plea is the same: don’t block our views. Of course, right now Folio Square’s eastern view is of a mid-block alley and a parking lot beyond. Hands up anyone who thinks buying a view of an alley above a parking lot in downtown Chicago is a sure bet for a permanently unobstructed vista?

The remaining residents of Folio Square who just can’t accept the foregone conclusion that both battle and views are lost, long live Burnham Pointe, have a right to their opinion. But it’s wrong to claim to speak for an entire neighborhood.

Take a look around the rest of Printers Row. Or the Loop, or River North, or the rest of downtown Chicago. Read the local papers, browse the local websites, peer up at local living room windows. If you can find another building, much less an entire neighborhood, that has made its raison d’etre the salvation of originally precarious views to which no right was in the first place ever attached, you have a keener eye than I.

Folio Square can try to hide behind apple-pie themes of wise neighborhood planning all it wants. No matter how global the pitch, the aim is still very singular. If you’re a Printers Row resident who thinks your neighborhood is going to rise or fall based on whether the residents of 124 W. Polk are able to see Blackie’s Bar from their bedroom windows, then have I got a website for you.

If not, feel free to do like photoblogger Looper did and consider buying a comfy new Burnham Pointe apartment.

Though if I were you, I’d avoid an alley view. I hear some of the neighbors are trouble.

Categories: Planning

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Michael Thaddeus Doyle

I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.

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7 replies

  1. Jeff – do you know any specific details about the park that the city is going to build south of your building? I’m assuming that it’s going to be in the small, empty lot directly south of your building? Do you know when the city is going to start building it? Do you know what it is going to include?

  2. I agree that the vocal MINORITY is outside my building shaking sticks and threatening buyers is bad for everyone. Not only does it cast a negative light on Folio Square, which is a great historic building, it implies we all feel the same as these few people. The new builidng is, I think, out of scale, but I don’t necessarily disagree with development. I do have infastructure concerns (sewer capacity, bus routes, etc) that I have addressed with the alderman and candidates for alderman (vote Fioretti). Terrapin is selling for $80 more a square foot than I paid for my loft – that tells me that my place will increase in value – view or no view. This is still the city and there are people that would rather have more living space without a view of the back of Printers Corner vs. less living space with a view of the CLark and Polk intersection. Plus, current plans call for the new tower to be at least 30′ from Folio Square, which is about how wide Polk Street is now. Who would complain about a building across the street?

  3. I can see the “SAY NO TO POLK STREET CANYON” sign from my windows. I feel some of their pain, but the cold reality is that buying a building with a tenth story “view” of a parking lot in Chicago is not a wise long term decision.

    I really would prefer to not have so many buildings quite that tall in the neighborhood, but it’s naive to think that development is not going to happen in empty lots only a few blocks from the Loop. I would prefer for new construction in my area be limited to 15-20 stories, just to keep in scale with the existing buildings, but that’s just my opinion.

    One of the reasons I bought in the Transportation Building (600 s. Dearborn) is that it’s in the historic-zoned neighborhood proper, and the city is developing a park adjacent to the south wall. I’m on the 18th floor and have a nice view of some of the lake and a great south view as well. I love the area, too.

    I’d bet that most of the huge expanse of empty space surrounding them will be built up in the next ten years. I rented a place at Peterson Lofts that faced east, also over a parking lot. My place faced what is now the construction site of Library Tower, and someday will have a view across the alley of their parking garage. The unit owner offered to sell it to me several years back, and I didn’t even consider it, seeing how much development was taking place nearby.

  4. Actually, the people who were running the old site got so fed up with the disingenuous bullshit of the protest squad that they zipped up the site and gave it to them, domain name and all, and washed their hands of the whole thing. It now officially represents the views of exactly four people in Folio Square, the very same four people you see out there on the weekends. The rest of the building shudders when we see those idiots out there shaking their sticks at passersby.

    Give us a month to turn the board over and the window signs will be down too. In the meantime, just ignore them and maybe they’ll go away.

  5. Me too! My girlfriend and I just bought a place there, and walking by protesters every time we went to the sales office was just a joy to say the least (especially since all they had to say was, “Don’t buy here! You’re going to lose your money! We’re shutting this place down!”)

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