Reilly indicated he had been blindsided by last-minute modifications to plans that had been presented to the public during spirited community meetings in May and October.
“Unfortunately, the ‘final’ documents sent to my office yesterday afternoon did not accurately reflect all of the many changes made to the proposal and also introduced a particular blend of uses never previously discussed with my office or community groups,” Reilly said in a statement from his office.
One of the issues appears to be that the project, pitched as a mix of commercial, residential and hotel space, could include up to 1,800 hotel rooms. A spokesman for project’s developers denied that the documents presented to the commission included any last-minute changes and said there are no plans to include that many hotel units.
“There was never an attempt to blindside Ald. Reilly,” said Bill Griffin, spokesman for a group of developers that includes Christopher Kennedy, whose grandfather Joseph Kennedy bought the site at the junction of the three branches of the Chicago River in the 1940s.
According to Griffin, the figure of 1,800 hotel rooms is simply a calculation of the number of hotel units that could be built on the property under current zoning regulations. He said he did not know who made that calculation.
Griffin said the developer’s office started getting phone calls this week from neighborhood residents and community groups as they became aware of the 1,800 number. Among objections to the project raised at community meetings was the potential for overcrowding in the dense River North neighborhood.
A spokesman for the alderman declined to respond to Griffin’s statements.
The project’s design team, from Pelli Clarke Pelli architects of New Haven, Conn., returned east after the proposal was pulled and could not be reached for comment.