11 towers, 'whole community' envisioned near Rivers Casino
Owner envisions a 'whole community' on Des Plaines site
An "eco-campus" of office buildings, residential towers, hotels and retail stores is being proposed on the site of an existing office complex across the Tri-State Tollway from Rivers Casino in Des Plaines.
Robert Kozonis, owner of the O'Hare Lakes office complex at 2200 E. Devon Ave., is asking for zoning changes that could pave the way one day for as many as four 10-story office towers, five 11-story residential towers around Lake Peterson, two 9-story hotel towers facing Devon Avenue, and four levels of retail below the hotels.
But it could take up to 20 years for the entire development to come to fruition as part of a phased approach, officials said.
"This is truly a mixed-use project in the truest sense of the term," said Rick Fawell, the project architect. "It's a unique opportunity to develop something on the macro scale that can hang together as a whole community in and of itself."
The city plan commission voted 4-0 Monday to recommend approval of a new zoning district for the 52-acre site. The city council has final say in changes to the zoning code.
The current site has five 3-story office buildings, one of which was sold last year and is not proposed to be part of the development.
Current zoning rules allow for building heights of 45 feet, but the proposed zoning changes would allow buildings to go as high as 165 feet.
The city's community development department staff wrote in a memo to plan commissioners that the proposed rezoning of much of the land wouldn't be out of scale with the casino, office and hotels to the east of the tollway. But staff members said they do have concerns with buildings on the west side of the property, which are near single-family homes.
Fawell said the buildings are facing north and south in order to allow greater light on the homes to the west.
Jim Postweiler of Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate firm that would market the development, said the zoning changes would be useful in attracting prospective business tenants that are considering other locations near O'Hare International Airport.
"We want to get the right arrows in our quiver to say, 'We can compete with the other sites,'" Postweiler said.
He said it would be "a couple years" until any building is constructed. And which building comes first -- residential or commercial -- depends on the market, he said.
The proposed zoning rules would alter the city's approval process for individual buildings within the development, allowing the director of community and economic development to review applications without public hearings before the plan commission and city council.
"Forty-three years ago I moved out of the city of Chicago because they didn't have public hearings," said plan commission Chairman Robert Niemotka. "I can't see that. I think the more eyes on a project of this scope and size the better."
The city council is expected to consider the zoning changes Nov. 17.
Towers: Owner asking for building heights of 165 feet, not 45 feet