North and LaSalle FAQ
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions we have received since engagement began. This list will continue to be updated as the team receives feedback throughout this process.
How did you get involved with Sir David Adjaye and secure him for the project?
Recognizing the uniqueness and historic character of the Old Town neighborhood, the complexity of urban planning and design processes, and the importance of community engagement, Fern Hill prioritized the identification and partnership with a world class design and thought leader. Fern Hill leadership reached out to Sir Adjaye with information on the sites and opportunity to see if he was interested, and Chicago served as a large draw as home to some of the most significant modern architecture in the world. The development team knows that this is a generational opportunity, and they’re thrilled to partner with Sir Adjaye and his team here in Chicago.
When will you tell us what you have planned for this project?
Upon completion of the initial engagement and community feedback process, Fern Hill will provide a report with that information which will be published as a public, preliminary document of urban planning and design direction that will shape the development proposal. The community will continue to have the ability to input our planning framework which will culminate into actual design recommendations to the community. The team would not anticipate bringing a design proposal until the beginning of 2022, at the earliest.
What other projects has Fern Hill completed?
Fern Hill was founded in 2018 and by its two managing principals, Nick Anderson and Michael Ellch. The company is active across a variety of Chicago neighborhoods, including predevelopment and marketing of an 80-unit luxury condominium development in the West Loop, an adaptive office reuse of the former Museum of Broadcast Communications in River North, the development of a boutique hotel near McCormick Place Convention Center, and outside of the city, an industrial e-commerce distribution center in Northwest Indiana. Fern Hill’s projects range across all asset classes including residential, office, retail, hospitality, institutional, and industrial.
Why this neighborhood?
The team loves Old Town. Fern Hill leadership have personally lived in this neighborhood and appreciate its history and storied cultural and architectural heritage. They also understand what makes it great, but also see opportunities and areas for improvement of quality of life, pedestrian experience, safety, and promoting its culture and heritage - and done so in a holistic way.
How are you engaging the community and making sure you hear their feedback?
This innovative, inclusive community engagement platform will allow all residents and stakeholders to directly engage with the development and design teams throughout the planning process. Through a combination of in-person and virtual meetings, and also collecting and publishing information on the online platform, Fern Hill is committed to showcasing this project as the new standard for proactive community engagement in Chicago.
Why did you select the coUrbanize platform?
Fern Hill completed extensive research on engagement tools, including building our own native applications, but ultimately selected coUrbanize because of their proven track record. coUrbanize has executed community engagement work across multiple projects in diverse cities across the country, including here in Chicago. Through those case studies and local resident testimonials, Fern Hill decided the established platform was the perfect foundation to build and customize our own community engagement process for the Old Town community.
Can you explain what exactly your agreements are with Moody Church, the two gas stations and other properties included in this plan?
Fern Hill and the Moody Church are asking the community to be engaged throughout this planning process and help determine what opportunities may exist to keep, reuse, reposition, or develop the respective properties. The development team understands the impact of these properties in their current state and based on the community feedback and direction, will work together to propose the most cohesive and beneficial planning guidelines which will maximize the community benefits to as many Old Town residents.
What are your plans with the Moody Church?
Fern Hill has no plans for the Moody Church as they do not own the property and have no interest or control of this historic and beautiful space which has called Old Town home for over a century. Fern Hill is fully certain that the Moody Church will continue to operate and contribute to this community, as it does today, and for another century ahead. The church is not only one of the most cherished architectural assets in Chicago, but also the most special place for its members and leadership.
What types of development are you considering? Do any of your plans include residential spaces, and will those include any low income housing?
The team needs to let the community engagement process see itself through before putting any plans to paper while recognizing that the neighborhood is primarily housing and retail. This opportunity allows the community to evaluate a consolidated plan of uses, as opposed to multiple one-off developments.
What is your stance on the Chicago Landmark designation of buildings on the 1600 block of North Wells Street?
Fern Hill encourages the preservation of legitimate, historically significant structures in the Old Town neighborhood. Fern Hill looks forward to sitting down with community members interested in historic preservation and working towards common goals throughout the planning process.
What are the parcels zoned for?
The properties are currently B1-3, allowing for retail and residential uses.