the lead

Chris Kennedy has already thought of the arguments in that Wolf Point lawsuit

[News]

And he responded to them in March.

BY MATT PRESENT
WolfPoint

Opponents of the planned Wolf Point development have sued the city of Chicago in federal court, seeking to derail the project just weeks before it was slated to begin.

The 37-page complaint, first reported by Crain’s Chicago Business this morning, lobs a series of allegations, including that “for almost 40 years, the owner of the Wolf Point Property performed no meaningful development on Wolf Point.” The complaint goes on to allege that the development permit, first awarded in 1973, has lapsed because no construction has been performed on the site since the demolition of a parking structure in either “2003 or 2004.”

Chris Kennedy, who’s been leading the project, addressed those concerns in a March interview with Grid. “We’ve spent million and millions of dollars redeveloping Wolf Point since 1973,” Kennedy said. “We put up the Apparel Center [in 1976], we put up a 900-stall parking garage, we took that down, we put up another one, we put in a $10 million bridge. There’s been millions and millions of dollars spent there to keep that permission alive and it’s a continuum of activity all under that rule of law.”

The complaint also states that the original intent of the Wolf Point development plan was to spur residential growth in the River North and Fulton River districts, and that in light of subsequent development in the area, the Wolf Point development is now “unnecessary and redundant.” The complaint cites the more than 4,000 new residential units to go up in the districts as evidence of “the demonstrated lack of need by the community for the development legislated in Amended [Wolf Point development plan.]”

In the March interview, Kennedy said that Wolf Point will serve a different demographic by providing downtown housing that’s “economical but [with] design premiums.” Kennedy said that Wolf Point’s target demographic is 22- to 35-year-olds, many of whom work at startups, who “want to live in a very nice environment, they just can’t afford it.”

A third allegation in the complaint alleges that the plaintiffs, whose property across the river at 333 N. Canal St. will likely have their views blocked by the new development, were denied due process in part because of insufficient notice of a Feb. 11 zoning meeting, which the complaint calls “covert [and] illegal.”

Kennedy told Grid that the insufficient notice was a “technical violation” that was cured by rescheduling the meeting for a later date. “When the notice was put out about the meeting, they said March 11 instead of Feb. 11,” Kennedy said. “Nobody was trying to hide anything, they put out the notice on the Thursday as they always do and whoever typed it in typed in the wrong friggin’ day. So then it gets pushed again [to Feb. 26], but it looks like someone’s colluding.”

Richard Kessler, an attorney for the plaintiffs, declined to comment on the pending litigation. A call has been placed into Chris Kennedy’s office, and we’ll update with further comment.  

Photo by Lee Hogan