As reflected on the One Central renderings, the proposed mega-development over the Metra railroad tracks from 14th Street to McCormick Place will consist of a 50-foot high concrete walled "deck" over the existing rail tracks, topped by a continuous layer of midrise buildings up to 130' tall. On top of all of that, 10 super high-rise towers (80 stories or higher), and a “transit hub” sitting at its center.
When the City talks about the FAR of a development site, what does it mean? FAR is the Floor Area Ratio which is used in zoning to limit urban density. FAR directly limits building density, so it also effectively limits the number of people that a building or development site can hold, without directly controlling a building's external shape. FAR is established to limit density because some areas can and should only hold so many people.
By way of example, if the SITE (lot) must adhere to a 0.1 (1/10) FAR, then the total area of all floors in all buildings on the SITE must be no more than one-tenth the area of the entire SITE itself. In other words, if the SITE was 10,000 sq. ft., then the total floor area of all floors in all buildings within the SITE mustn't exceed 1,000 sq. ft. (one-tenth FAR of the 10,000 sq. ft. SITE).
An architect can plan for either a single-story building consuming the entire allowable area in one widespread floor, or a multi-story building that rises higher above the plane of the land, but which must consequently result in a smaller footprint than would a single-story building of the same total floor area. The FAR can be spread out and low, or high and narrow. But the density is the same.
ONE CENTRAL is actually comprised of several sites or parcels that the Wisconsin developer, Landmark, wants to put together for its mega-development. Each of the parcels was assigned a FAR or density ratio in the master plan for the development of this neighborhood. The Wisconsin developer’s proposal exceeds the planned density (FAR) by about 500%, or about 5 times the density determined by Chicago as appropriate for that area of our neighborhood. The Wisconsin developer, Landmark, will destroy the livability of our neighborhood while lining its pockets with billions of dollars in our tax subsidies. SLCC opposes any expansion of the existing FAR because it will permanently damage our neighborhood.
In order to better understand how One Central’s ten enormous Mega-Towers will rob the area of sunlight, SLCC commissioned shadow studies which are shown in these slides from different perspectives at different times.
A shadow study uses known data about the position of the sun during specific times of the day and year, and then projects that against the dimensions of given structures. In these slides, SLCC used that data imposed against the Wisconsin developer’s proposed Mega-Towers, some of which reach 800 feet in the air, taller than anything in the South Loop.
The results show that the south loop will lose much of its morning sunlight, and that Soldier Field will basically lose all light for the Bears games, forever. This result does not need to happen. This result is only because One Central is proposed at approximately FIVE TIMES the FAR allowed by Chicago ordinance for this area.