Big changes coming to Wolf Point as multifamily skyscrapers rise

A rendering of Wolf Point East.

The relatively secluded River North peninsula known as Wolf Point is undergoing big changes, even though most of them are not yet visible to passersby.

The peninsula of land located at the juncture of the Chicago River’s main, north and south branches will soon be home to Wolf Point East, a 60-story apartment tower that will boast 698 units when complete.

Crews are working on the project now, though the majority of work so far has taken place underground and out of sight. But the apartment tower will soon add one more high-rise to Chicago’s ever-expanding skyline.

This new development is the second of a planned three skyscrapers for Wolf Point. The first tower, Wolf Point West, opened in 2016. That tower stands a relatively modest 48 stories tall, and was designed by Chicago’s bKL Architecture. It holds 509 luxury apartment units for those looking for high end living in River North.

The third, and final, tower will come after Wolf Point East is completed. That project, to be called Wolf Point South, will include some office space and will rise at least 950 feet high, according to preliminary plans.

Coming with the trio of skyscrapers is a landscaped river walk along the edge of Wolf Point. New traffic lanes will also be built, lanes that will better connect the relatively isolated patch of land to nearby expressway on-off ramps.

Construction crews broke ground at Wolf Point East in July. Pelli Clarke Pelli designed the new tower, while Hines Interests and property owner the Kennedy family are developing the project.

The tower is far from inexpensive. The cost of Wolf Point East is expected to soar to around $360 million. The timetable for the tower’s opening is not firm, but construction on Wolf Point East is slated to wrap in the latter months of 2019.

The section of land has long been important to Chicago, especially during the city’s earliest days. It served as the location of Chicago’s first three taverns and its first hotel, the Sauganash Hotel. It was also the site of the city’s first drug store, church and ferry.

The Kennedy family has long been involved with this plot of land. The land was originally owned by Marshall Field, who then sold it to Joseph P. Kennedy, patriarch of the famed political family, around 1945. The Kennedy family sold much of the land, but held onto 4 acres, land located diagonal from the city’s Merchandise Mart.

The development of the three Wolf Point towers comes during a boom period in Chicago’s construction scene. Developers have added dozens of multifamily towers to the city during the last three years.  River North has many luxury high rise apartments and condo towers currently under construction.

Construction overall is on the rise in the city. According to city statistics, the 60th tower crane of the year rose in Chicago in mid-November That marks a 400 percent increase in construction cranes operating in the city since 2010, according to the mayor’s office.

It’s also a sign that construction activity here won’t end with the development of Wolf Point’s towers. Instead, expect plenty of construction in the city throughout 2018.