North Branch Works unveils recommendations for 32-acre industrial district

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North Branch Works has unveiled recommendations for the 32-acre manufacturing district that once housed industrial businesses including A. Finkl & Sons, A. Lakin & Sons, and Gutmann Leather tannery.

The community development corporation hopes that the site along the Chicago River’s north branch will attract a wide range of private next-generation industrial uses as well as public amenities.

The study, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in partnership with the Delta Institute, envisioned three different scenarios where the site would continue as a jobs engine.

A map showing the proposed development area.
A map showing the proposed development area in context.

These visions include:

  • A master developer assembling all the parcels and developing the site according to a master plan with minimal reuse of existing buildings, construction of a public transportation node and a raised two-way bike bath through the site’s center. Roadways would also be substantially reconfigured.
  • The parcels would be sold off and developed individually with reuse of whatever buildings remain. No roadways would be reconfigured but a raised bike path would still be constructed.
  • A corporate anchor would acquire and occupy the majority of the site, while other existing parcels and buildings are reused and/or redeveloped on an individual basis. This is the only scenario where Southport remains closed to traffic but it still envisions the construction of the raised bike lane.

According to Curbed Chicago, the study calls for primary uses to feature a large corporate anchor or R&D facility, a multi-tenant tech office, maker space, industrial flex space and a brewery/distillery.

The proposal also suggests there will be restaurants and retailers selling products produced on site, along with public amenities including a plaza or open space, a public river trail,river access and parking either as surface lots or structures.

See the full 158-page report here.

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