Thrush's Block Y wins 2004 Vision Award

The Thrush Companies has won the 2004 Community Vision Award for excellence in urban land planning and development for Block Y, an $80 million mixed-use in-fill community in the West Loop.

The first-time award was presented recently by the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago, the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Urban Land Institute at the 2004 Key Awards competition, the “Academy Awards” for home builders in Chicago.

“The Community Vision Award is the preeminent land use award that will be given when a development sets an example of the responsible use of land to enhance the built and natural environment in the Chicago region,” said David Galowich, ULI Chicago Executive Committee member.

The award was conceived to publicly acknowledge and reward projects that demonstrate excellence in applying sound land use principles and best practices in the Chicago region, according to Galowich.

To create Block Y, The Thrush Companies acquired three industrial properties – the Barrett Bindery, the Bee Bindery and a one-story retail building on Madison – and razed the largest loft building to create space for two common courtyards with a pond and waterfall surrounded by lofts and townhomes.

The nearly four-acre mixed-use residential and retail community sits near Skinner Park, between Madison and Monroe, on both the east and west side of Throop Street.

“The central courtyard is a focal point for tranquility, for conversation and relaxation,” said David Chase, president and CEO of the Thrush Companies. “It features a creek with a pond and boulders and three levels of water surrounded by aspens. The second courtyard is more Prairie style with a walking path.”

Now fully developed and sold out, Block Y comprises 255 loft condominiums and townhomes surrounding two landscaped courtyards, designed by landscape architect Maria Smithberg of Artemisia.

New housing, designed by architect Pat FitzGerald, of FitzGerald Associates, features 11-foot ceilings, exposed ducts, large windows and “great rooms” with kitchen, dining and living areas flowing together. The development opened its sales center in spring of 2000 with prices ranging from $119,900 to $624,000.

Block Y also features 27,000 square feet of retail space and a 155-car garage housed on the main floor of the mid-rise building facing Madison Street. The retail space is leased to Washington Mutual, Athletico and Cardinal Fitness.

The innovative design of the development, which also was voted the “Best Overall Urban Community” in the 2002 Key Awards, takes advantage of urban amenities including transit, schools and Skinner Park.

“The Block Y design incorporates the contextual nature of the surrounding block,” said William J. Wolk, director of business development for The Thrush Companies. “For example, there’s an adaptive reuse of a heavy timber loft building, a 4-story add-on to an existing concrete structure, a 6-story new-construction mid-rise building, and 4-story luxury townhomes oriented toward both Skinner Park and surrounding the new private courtyard.”

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