CRE N Illinois

First look at Landmark Development's proposal for Soldier Field-adjacent railway land

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Landmark Development released its concept for ONE Central, a plan to redevelop 34 underutilized acres of railway land along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. The proposal, which would place a mixture of hotels, multifamily properties, office, retail and improved infrastructure, would create the largest public transit hub in the Chicago area, better connecting residents and visitors to attractions along the lake.

Equal parts public infrastructure and private development, ONE Central is predicated on Daniel Burnham’s vision for the lakefront in his 1909 Plan of Chicago. The proposed site is located immediately north of McCormick Place, just west of Solider Field, and sits above and around an existing rail yard. According to Dunn, the development would unify surrounding communities, unlocking opportunities for economic development far beyond the project’s boundaries.

“There is no single location in the entire country that has the potential this site does,” said Robert Dunn, president of Landmark Development. “ONE Central builds on the Burnham Plan vision by connecting transit, civic and community interests at one lakefront destination.”

The site offers the opportunity to connect local, regional and national rail lines in a hub that includes bus lanes, bike paths and pedestrian walkways, while also uniting 27 miles of Chicago’s lakefront that currently separates the North and South sides, strengthening communities and providing economic opportunities.

Undeveloped due to active Metra rail lines and maintenance operations that run through it, the site has remained a void in the urban landscape. Landmark’s proposal is to build a structural platform over the Metra facilities to realize the full potential of the site, which will accommodate necessary parking, the transit hub and new public green spaces, while improving walkability and direct transit to the museum campus, Soldier Field, Lake Michigan, McCormick Place and Wintrust Arena.

The concept, which will not require any tax increment financing (TIF) from the city, was discussed publicly for the first time at a town hall meeting hosted by Third Ward Alderman Pat Dowell on Wednesday night. Private mixed-use development will rise above the platform over a planned 15-year time horizon. While no source of funding was revealed, Landmark doesn’t plan to seek TIF financing.

“Our programs have been successful on large-scale projects across the country,” Dunn said. “We look forward to working with Alderman Dowell and other civic and community partners to establish a program that will set the new standard for the city.”

This would be the first Chicago development for Dunn, a Wisconsin-based developer who was behind projects such as Detroit’s Ford Field and the redevelopment of Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. He’ll be working with Gerald Fogelson—the developer behind Central Station, a 72-acre development to the north that includes properties such as One Museum Park—as he owns the air rights over the tracks.