CRE N Illinois

Lincoln Yards redux: Sterling Bay again alters megaproject

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Last week, Chicago 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins rejected elements of Sterling Bay’s plans for the Lincoln Yards project along the North Branch, notably the soccer stadium and the Live Nation-affiliated entertainment district. The developer responded, unveiling revised drawings over the weekend that show park and recreational uses where the stadium was previously sited.

“We have been hard at work over the last several months updating and revising our renderings and master plan for Lincoln Yards,” the developers wrote in a statement. “At each stage in the process, we’ve reviewed your comments and listened to ways we could improve upon our vision for the future of this area, which has led to numerous changes, most recently, the removal of the soccer stadium and dispersal of the entertainment district.”

The new diagrams excise the 20,000-seat United Soccer League stadium, adding more community soccer fields, baseball diamonds and tennis courts in its place. Some low-rise structures are now visible on the former stadium site, along Concord Place where a planned river crossing is also shown.

“Lincoln Yards South will now include nearly three additional acres of vibrant park space, almost doubling the park space in this area from 3.6 acres to 6.2 acres,” the statement continued. “This increase in park space will allow for expanded programming, increased flexibility for youth and adult recreational activities, and a wider variety of potential fields for sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball and tennis, among others.”

The $5 billion project, which straddles the Chicago River at the border between Lincoln Park and Bucktown, is ambitious in scope but has faced some pushback. Long-time venues such as The Hideout balked at the centralized entertainment district, feeling that they wouldn’t be able to compete with a behemoth like Live Nation. Others have said the plan hasn’t fully thought out transportation to and through the new neighbhorhood. To that end, Sterling Bay has proposed adding a water taxi stop on the river, improving and moving the Clybourn Metra station, extending The 606 trail, adding a commuter shuttle service and lengthening streets to meet Clybourn or Elston.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and some of his supports on the City Council have pushed for $1.5 billion in TIF funds for megaprojects like Lincoln Yards and The 78, though reform-minded alderman have fought back. The revised design is scheduled to go before the Chicago Plan Commission on January 24.