Smaller building possible at McMobil

To the Editor:

Proponents of the proposed 155-foot, 14-story high-rise on the McMobil site (they describe it as 140 feet and 13 stories, omitting the so-called “penthouse” on the top floor) claim that it would not be economically feasible to build a smaller building that would fit in with the one- to three-story buildings in the immediate vicinity. However, the University of Chicago – the owner of the site —can build low to moderate density buildings when it wants to do so. To the extent the university views its project as an amenity for faculty, students and staff, the following should be considered:

  • Charles M. Harper Center (Booth School of Business), 5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue — height ranges from two to five stories, with ground level green space along the frontage
  • Max Palevsky Commons dormitory, on 56th Street between Greenwood and Ellis avenues —four stories
  • University of Chicago Laboratory Schools — Earl Shapiro Hall at the Early Childhood Campus, 5800 block of Stony Island Avenue (under construction) — three stories
  • Gerald Ratner Athletic Center, on Ellis Avenue between 55th and 56th streets — three stories
  • Joe and Rika Mansueto Library (next to Regenstein Library), on 57th Street and Ellis Avenue — two stories above ground with multiple floors below
    To the extent the university views its project as an improvement for the broader community, the following should be considered:
  • Retail and parking structure (with the Seven Ten bowling alley and restaurant), on 55th Street between Greenwood and Ellis avenues — one story of retail topped with three stories of parking
  • The rehabilitation of the Harper Theater building and shops, at the northwest corner of 53rd Street and Harper Avenue — two stories for the most part, with a three-story theater section
  • North building of the Hyde Park Shopping Center (where Office Depot and adjacent retailers are located) — one story

There is no legitimate reason why the university cannot build a smaller project at the McMobil site that would fit into our neighborhood.

Marc Lipinski