Chicago signs off on $2.5 billion North Branch development

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Credit: Chicago DPD

The Chicago Plan Commission has signed off on a $2.5 billion development that could bring 14 mixed-use buildings and 7,400 more residents in Chicago’s North Branch Corridor.

The planned development — with 13 acres of open space and a picturesque walkway along the Chicago River — is at 643-to-741 Chicago Ave.

The North Branch Framework is a land use plan for 760 acres along the Chicago River between Kinzie St. and Fullerton Avenue. It is the first framework developed as a part of Mayor Emanuel’s Industrial Corridor Modernization Initiative, a multi-year effort to review Chicago’s designated industrial corridors.

The plan, adopted by the Chicago Plan Commission in May 2017, includes modern land use parameters that will be used by the Chicago Plan Commission, City Council, and the public to assess future development proposals and land use transitions in the North Branch.

In July 2017, City Council approved an ordinance that acts as the initial step to implement the North Branch Framework’s multi-year goals to accommodate mixed-use business growth within the corridor while generating funds for industrial and commercial development throughout the city. These policies include:

Re-zone of the northern and southern portions of the North Branch Corridor to accommodate the opportunity for mixed-use development. The northern portion of the North Branch was changed mostly to Manufacturing (M) and the southern portion was changed mostly to Downtown Service (DS). The new designations enable a dynamic mix of uses that were previously prohibited by Planned Manufacturing District (PMD) zoning, which remain in the central portion of the corridor.

Create an Industrial Corridor System Fund that supports industrial projects throughout the city. The fund will be supported by mandatory developer fees triggered by zoning changes from M or DS to a non-industrial classification.

Expand the City’s existing Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus system to the southern portion of the North Branch corridor. The Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus system generates funding for West, Southwest and South side commercial development projects, local infrastructure and designated City landmarks. Funds are created by voluntary payments from development projects with Downtown (D) district zoning in exchange for increased density.

– Create a North Branch Corridor Bonus system in the northern portion of the North Branch corridor. The North Branch Bonus would enable developers to make voluntary payments in exchange for increased density for new development projects. Revenues would be used to finance transit, open space and other public improvements within the North Branch and other industrial corridors.

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