Chicago Plan Commission gives OK to $6 billion Sterling Bay Lincoln Yards development

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lincoln yards rendering
Rendering of the latest master plan for the $6 billion Lincoln Yards redevelopment project

The Chicago Plan Commission (CPC) has unanimously approved the massive $6 billion Lincoln Yards development, despite objections from neighbours, business owners and some Chicago aldermen.

Second Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins said he is satisfied with changes developer Sterling Bay made in its 100-page master plan for the 55-acre riverfront development, but dozens of  people, several of whom spoke out at the Jan. 24 CPC meeting, said they did not think they had enough time to review and consider the plan, released just days earlier.

Sterling Bay’s revised Lincoln Yards Master Plan

People opposed to Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funding for the development held a press conference before the Plan Commission vote, Block Club Chicago reported. Neighborhood groups including the RANCH Triangle neighborhood association, Raise Your Hand, Friends of The Parks and others lined up to speak, with many asking why the process was so rushed.

“This is the biggest development the city will approve in decades and we just got the plan last weekend,” Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) said in a statement. “The last time a government body in this room was asked to make [a] similar momentous decision in so little time was — the parking meter deal.”

However Hopkins and Mayor Rahm Emanuel supported the project, and that was enough for it to be approved.

Hopkins was greeted by a chorus of boos when he spoke.

Block Club Chicago reported Hopkins as saying:

he was elected in 2015 on a promise to revitalize the North Branch area along the river, and said Lincoln Yards will be “spectacular.” He said the plan reflected the community’s desire to extend the 606 trail over the river, build at least one new bridge over the river, modernize traffic signals and add park space.

The city still needs to sign off on a $900 million TIF, which is expected to be voted on in February.

The development will include 6,000 new residential units. Under city rules, this would require 1,200 units to be set aside for low-and moderate income households. However, only 300 of these will be built on the site. Sterling Bay will contribute at least $39 million to the city’s low-income housing fund to avoid adding 300 units, and the other 600 units will be located either on-site, “off-site” within three miles of the development or they’ll pay an additional fee to avoid building them, according to the developer.

The city’s Department of Planning and Development said on Twitter that the development would create “34,000 jobs, 21 acres of park space, $121 million in bonus payments and corridor fees, and a 20 percent affordable obligation for 6,000 units planned for the site.”

The first buildings to be constructed will be 1.32 million sq. ft. of offices, 108,000 square feet of retail and 1,400 parking spaces, the planning department said.

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