Lincoln Yards developers reveal scaled back plans to appease North Side neighbors

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A community meeting was held Thursday evening to reveal revised plans for the Lincoln Yards project, a mixed-use development along the north branch of the Chicago River.

Developer Sterling Bay has scaled back its plans in an effort to win over nearby residents. It's one of the biggest mixed-use developments Chicago has seen in years, and North Side residents want to make sure the developer of Lincoln Yards gets it right.

North-siders packed the auditorium.

After concerns over density and lack of park land, Sterling Bay went back to the drawing board.

"The marching orders to the developer were relatively clear: make these changes and satisfy demands of the community. So we've seen some early indications that they took that to heart," 2nd Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins said.

Under the new plan, the tallest buildings will be over 50 stories versus 70 stories. Thirty-eight percent of the site will be devoted to park land rather than 25 percent under the previous proposal. In addition, the plan also includes several open air plazas and a riverwalk.

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Developer Sterling Bay has scaled back its plans in an effort to win over nearby residents.

"There are some really great creative solutions on park land and how it connects to the river was really impressive," said Jim Gramata, Sheffield Neighborhood Association.

Neighborhood groups and Alderman Hopkins said the revised plan is a step in the right direction, but there is a long way to go.

"It's a bold vision that Lincoln Yards is putting out there, so we need a bold solutions. And frankly we haven't seen those in terms of congestion and traffic," Gramata said.
The Lincoln Yards development sits along the Chicago River between North Avenue and Webster. The current plan for retail, residential, an entertainment venue and a soccer stadium is for over 54 acres of the more 70 Sterling Bay owns.

"The city should have a master plan for traffic. So why doesn't it? Why aren't they trying to be responsible in the development and be a partner with the community and the developer?" asked Reatha Kay, of the Ranch Triangle Association.

But the plan still includes using $800 million in TIF money to build the project, which many in the community are against.

The city is proposing using the tax increment finance money, known as TIFs, to pay for new infrastructure. This means all the tax revenue generated from the development will go back into the TIF fund for 23 years.

"For $800 million you can buy a lot of traffic congestion relief, you can buy new bridges new roads, transit stations, a new Metra station," Ald. Hopkins said.

Hopkins also said the TIF funds could be used to build a new school, but there is no doubt the use of those funds will be controversial.
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