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Hi! I’ll be live-tweeting today’s meeting of the Chicago Plan Commission for @CHIdocumenters. A vote on huge, controversial development Lincoln Yards is scheduled, but if there are other items it’d be helpful for me to pay special attention to, lmk! #ChiDocumenters
The room is packed. Just heard someone say, “Oh, you’re here, too? Seems like the whole Second Ward is here!” Lincoln Yards is in the Second Ward
Here’s the link to the agenda! I believe Lincoln Yards is items D1 and D2. chicago.gov/content/dam/ci…
And here’s the agenda map chicago.gov/content/dam/ci…
One of the objections to the Lincoln yards development has been its partnership with concert promoter Live Nation, which local music venues are concerned will put them out of business chicagoreader.com/chicago/civl-i…
2nd Ward Ald. Hopkins this month said he would not support original plans to build a soccer stadium and a multi-venue entertainment district co-owned by Live Nation, but independent venues still have major concerns chicagotribune.com/entertainment/…
The first two items on the agenda, a resolution recommending authorizing a negotiated sale of some city-owned land in the 27th Ward and one recommending authorizing a sealed bid of some city-owned land in the 3rd Ward, passed without discussion
Now Lincoln Yards is being presented on. The presenter is emphasizing the process of the North Branch Framework plan and the public meetings that have been conducted
The presenter mentioned 6 community meetings, 6 neighborhood meetings, and 6 open houses — I believe before the full Lincoln Yards proposal was publicly introduced in July 2018
In August 2018, the presenter said, there was a North Branch Advisory community meeting, 2nd ward block meetings, & several meetings with “stakeholder groups.” Similar meetings were highlighted for the following months, as well as a community survey by the ald & a community group
Discussing the details of the development at a relatively rapid speed. The development will be about 53 acres of the 760-acre North Branch Corridor
Discussing transportation and infrastructure now. Sterling Bay has proposed to reestablish “important north-south connections” within henplanned development, e.g. connecting Southport to Kingsbury, & east-west ones, including extending the 606 across the river
Briefly touched on a traffic study of the site, highlighted new traffic signals required
Presenter touched on a proposed significant reroute of Elston that is supposed to improve the Armitage/Ashland/Elston intersection and increase pedestrian safety
Lincoln Yards presenter discussed connection to CTA as well, mentioning that the developer is committed to implementing shuttle service to better connect to CTA, though details are still under discussion
Apparently CDOT is also studying the feasibility of creating a multi-modal corridor for buses, pedestrians, bicycles. Sterling Bay is committed to supporting water transit rerouting is found to be feasible. Also a concept for a possible but not required multi-modal transit
There are plans to expand pedestrian walkways and bike paths, as well as to extend the riverfront path through the whole development
The presenter spent a good deal of time on plans for open space. The developer proposes to create 2 large riverfront parks, which have to be installed and maintained by them and are required to be publicly accessible during regular park hours
The development will include 21 acres of public open space, including 11.18 acres in the 2 large parks, the riverwalk, and pathways
Interim park space will be installed starting in the next year, to be delivered no later than 2020
Design details for the buildings in the development are divided into 5“character zones”: the North Dominick Corridor, South Dominick Corridor, Kingsbury Corridor, West Riverfront District, South Riverfront District
N Dominick zone will be primarily office and mixed use; Kingsbury mostly residential with smaller footprint buildings; W Riverfront primarily mixed use; S Dominick primarily office and mixed use; and S Riverfront primarily mixed use waterfront district with lower-scale buildings
The development will proceed in several phases
6000 total residential units are proposed; 1200 affordable units are required. 25% will be met w/ on-site affordable units, 25% w/ in-lieu-of payments that will total over $39 million, & 50% can be met through either additional on-site units, off-site units w/in 3 mi, or more $
The development would use the North Branch Corridor overlay bonus to achieve a 6.5 floor-area-ratio, which a $91.9 million payment will be required for. There’s also a required $29.1 million payment for transitioning the land away from industrial use
The presenter says the developer has met with advocacy organizations to ensure an inclusionary approach and has formed an advisory council for diversity and inclusion
The overall cost of the development is projected to be $6 billion. The developer says 24,000 permanent jobs will be created
The Department of Development supports the proposal. A couple comments from commissioners — Scheinfeld from CDOT highlighted the transportation studies and benefits
Bond asked about the background of the affordable requirement, why more units aren’t required on site
Alderman Brian Hopkins is speaking! (There were some boos as that was announced.) He’s been talking for a few min so I’ll try to catch up here
Hopkins said, "I've been listening to you [opponents] for some time now, and I disagree with you." "This has been a very divisive project since the beginning, as anything [of this size] is expected to be."
Supporters are here today, too, Hopkins said, slamming down a binder he said was full of letters of support for the Lincoln Yards project and process. "There are people who recognize the citywide benefit of this"
"I'm taking full responsibility for the fact that we're here today, not next month, not 6 months from now, but today," Hopkins said. "Because this is the right time"
"I know there's a growing groundswell action even among people who like some things you just saw" to delay, Hopkins said. But this 3rd version of the master plan for Lincoln Yards was released on January 19, and "If you joined this process then, absolutely not enough time"
"If you came to this community review process last Saturday, welcome to the party, you're really late," Hopkins said. "A lot of us rolled up our sleeves and got involved in this a long time ago... This plan was introduced in July 2018," then revised. "Too fast relative to what?"
Of the site, "It needed to be replaced with mixed-use and we needed to move forward," Hopkins said. "The manufacturing legacy of Chicago is gone and it's not coming back... it seemed it was time to start having that dialogue."
After a year of being asked repeatedly by constituents about what would happen with the old industrial site in his ward, Hopkins says, he decided to ask them what they wanted, partnering w DePaul's Sustainable Urban Development program to ask neighbors, community organizations
The top 6 recommendations that came out of that design process: 1. Expand 606 over the river. 2. Build at least one new bridge over river. 3. Traffic signal modernization. 4. Unanimous consensus that the site needed to be mixed use. 5. Park space. 6. Riverwalk revitalization
Hopkins talked about how prior to the release of the Lincoln Yards plan, he reached out to 8 community stakeholders (mostly neighborhood groups), "So to suggest that there is no community process or that it's so deficient it can't be called a community process, it's... insulting"
Hopkins talked about traffic and congestion and open space being the biggest concerns, and said they were addressed — that the traffic changes will increase to 15% excess capacity
Alderman Smith spoke strongly against the project. "This is the biggest development the city will approve in decades, and we just got the final plan last week," she said, saying that is wrong, & that the last time the city made a big decision this fast was the parking meter deal
Ald. Smith says public sentiment is clearly high and not happy with the plan as it is. "We are pleased the 20,000 seat stadium was rejected and some park space added... we were not told that 2 buildings" were added, 3 expanded, for more square feet and density
"The truth is we have no idea as we sit here today what is legally required under this plan and what is just puffery, because we have never seen the actual final planned development documents," Smith said
"And there are lingering questions," Ald. Smith said, "abt the proposed public expenditures to be made through a TIF expected to generate $900 million. We are told today is not the time or place to question the TIF, yet every visual shown on this screen... involves roads," (cont)
(from above) "bridges, walkways, that are proposed to be paid for by a public TIF that hasn't received enough scrutiny." Smith also said there's not enough assurance the north park is big enough, and had concerns about something involving the firing of the developer's tax atty
"Our community supports development of the North Branch Corridor, but it does not support this plan today, and nor should you," Ald. Smith said to loud cheers.
Ald. Scott Waguespack spoke, also with major concerns. He said that this decision is too important to be left to the outgoing mayor and council, especially with the scandals involving the Finance and Zoning Committees, and that he supports leaving this for the new council
Waguespack also highlighted that the development will have implications for generations to come, that the built environment is the biggest thing we leave to the next generation, & asked if we've heard enough from urban planners and neighborhood orgs about the development's impact
Ald. Waguespack noted that the presentation said that transportation issues were significantly reduced because of new bridges, but businesses on the other side of a bridge, in his ward, didn't know they'd have to give up their property through eminent domain for that
Waguespack said that the spaces between the buildings have been given short shrift, and raised concerns about density, and destroying the small business corridors nearby
Commissioner / Alderman Burnett asked about minority contractors, and a rep of the developer talked about it in detail, highlighting capacity building. Burnett also asked about jobs and retail
Another alderman—I didn't catch his name, so let me know if you did!—talked about there being a significant process, community input. Said something about how the TIF stuff that's on the table is similar to things that have been funded before, and that there will be addl hearings
Additional hearings on the TIF, to be clear. The alderman also talked abt how the North Branch Framework plan covers 760 acres and talks about 62 acres of public space, and this planned development covers less than 10% of the plan's acreage but would have 20 acres of public space
The alderman also said "This is not simply a haphazard expansion of downtown," but is an example of the type of opportunity that can make Chicago situated to compete on a global scale, have companies like Amazon come to Chicago
Ald. Hopkins took the floor again to respond. He took particular offense at the mention of the parking meter deal, saying it was horrible but it's a "cheap gimmick" to invoke it for everything you're opposed to, & w/ 6 months like this, the council would have realized it was bad
Ald. Hopkins also noted the North Branch park had been raised & that it wasn't up for a vote today b/c it's not w/in the planned development, but he'll work to make that happen ASAP. Sterling Bay doesn't own the land for it yet, but has made affirmative statements abt it, he said
Ald. Hopkins said that Ald. Waguespack talked abt urban planners & responded that urban planner/architect Richard Wilson has been intimately involved. Hopkins said Wilson supports the current plan, contingent on the next step of making the north park a reality, which he agrees w/
Public comment has started. The first batch of 6 speakers are all in support, largely because of construction jobs (including for minority contractors) and economic impact
Should have put #LincolnYards on these tweets long ago! If you're just seeing this, there's a whole live-tweet thread above
Second batch of public comment is all in opposition. A couple speakers from Ranch Triangle Association, one from Sheffield Neighbors, etc. 1st raised qs about the promise to build a school (what kind? who will be involved in discussions?), the independence of the traffic study
Several raised idea that many questions they just got details abt this weekend (inc. park space), disappointment w/process, need for more community input. David Summers said, "A slowdown of a few more months to get it right only makes sense...this will be w/ us for centuries."
Batch 3 of public speakers for #LincolnYards, this one in support. Again hearing a lot abt construction, support for minority contractors. Jerry Lewis (JLL Construction) ended by saying, "A delay would do nothing but take food off the table of individuals who have worked so hard"
We just started a 15-minute break. The last speaker was Andrea Tolzmann with @ILRaiseYourHand, an education advocacy group "deeply concerned abt the fast-tracking of this project." Tolzmann raised many concerns, inc. the effect of the TIF diverting property taxes for 2 decades
And we're back at the Chicago Plan Commission meeting, still talking about #LincolnYards. @RLopez15thWard is speaking in support, saying this is "a rare opportunity the city will have to spend $6 billion improving itself," and that it will positively impact every neighborhood
"This city was not built on squabbling over minor details," Ald. Lopez says. "This city was built on big ideas... leading to big results." He urges the commission to support #LincolnYards
Our 4th batch of public speakers re: #LincolnYards at this meeting, another batch in opposition. One speaker said that we all want people to get jobs, and "none of us here want to see this land lay empty," but that she, "like most of the people here," is "opposed to the speed"
Another speaker said that "No decision should be made on the plan until we have a new mayor," and asked whether residents of affordable units will be able to shop in the development's retail
Several hrs into the meeting, speakers are no longer being divided by opposed/supporting, & a bunch have had to leave. One speaker was a woman who leads a pest control firm; she highlighted less than 3% of such firms are led by women, & praised support for women-owned businesses
Katie Tuten, one of the co-owners of the Hideout, just spoke. Talked abt how people gave up income to come today, asked to slow this down. Noted there's been talk of meeting and community groups in support; at the first meeting, couldn't ask qs, and where are those groups today?
Here's more info on The Hideout's relationship to the #LincolnYards project from a few months ago chicagotribune.com/news/local/bre…
Tim Tuten, co-owner of The Hideout, discussed how The Hideout was built in the 1880s & now there will be 60-story & 32-story buildings across from it, blocking the skyline, plus 6-story parking lots around it. He also noted the arena is gone, but the other venues are still there
The next speaker, Robert Gomez, similarly highlighted how though the 20,000 seat soccer stadium/entertainment venue was removed from the plan, there are still venues for up to 10,000 people
.@tomstee described #LincolnYards as "another massive construction project without regard for what the city needs," such as mass transit, public housing, parks. He said big developers drive planning, & the city council gives them what they want (inc. ~billion public subsidy)
The next several speakers were in favor of #LincolnYards. Erica Kirkwood, VP & general counsel of a minority construction co., mentioned how the development can provide increased quality of life; another speaker talked abt supporting the dev. & improvement of underutilized land
Allen Mellis is speaking in opposition. He says he's in favor of a reasonable #LincolnYards project, but that he's asking for delay because there's a lot that hasn't been addressed yet or is missing. Asked for a new traffic study, a public transportation plan, etc.
Someone just spoke aloud while leaving the room, saying it's a shame many people have had to leave before their speaking slots b/c they're working people who took time off to come. Just before, 9 speakers in opposition in a row were not present (though some supporters gone too)
Another batch of speakers in favor; in this batch, the speakers have been pretty much all construction or construction-related companies so far. Talking about opportunity to create jobs, "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to transform this site into a riverfront for the community
A speaker with an org for black contractors just talked abt how they're in support b/c a 10-year, $6 billion development supports construction companies & careers over time, & b/c of the project's advisory council, enabling best practices in working with minority-owned businesses
Some more speakers in opposition. One said Ald. Hopkins told her that it was Sterling Bay’s decision to not allow questions at the first public meeting. Another, from a youth soccer org, said they were glad of more park space, but raised concerns inc. no parking included with it
The speaker from the youth soccer organization said that though they were in favor of #LincolnYards, they were not in favor of rushing it like this, and noted that as far as they could tell, most of the speakers in favor would financially benefit
Another speaker is suggesting the impact on existing music venues & the ecological impact be studied, that a new traffic study be done given the 25% increase in density in the update, etc. She also said there are lots of things in the plan that are promises but not pinned down
Ald. Burnett cut in to ask whether there would be a big entertainment venue and if the mayor’s brother was involved, referencing a comment someone made about LiveNation a few speakers ago. A Sterling Bay rep said they dispersed the entertainment venues across the development
The Sterling Bay rep also said they have no deal with Live Nation, but that with the revision to have dispersed independent venues, they’ll work with whoever comes to them
A few speakers in favor of #LincolnYards. Thomas McElroy (sp?) from a construction company used the quotation “Justice delayed is justice denied” in saying the development shouldn’t be delayed, saying “Now is a good time for minority- and women-owned businesses involved”
Another speaker in opposition is raising concerns about affordable housing not being required by the alderman to be met with on-site units like in some North Side neighborhoods. Says the plan does not meet the standard of leadership for equity in multiple ways
Another speaker talked abt how when you’re doing something this big, you should listen to all sides. He asks if they reached out to anyone south of Halsted. Says local residents are focused on height, density, traffic, but jobs & opportunities are important, esp to his community
A speaker from Friends of the Parks says we all know this is a perfunctory exercise, and that we’re expected to be grateful for “what’s essentially sloppy seconds” and a few changes. Says that everyone is in favor of jobs but that doesn’t mean we can’t expect better
The @FOTPChicago speaker raised concerns about the accountability of a privately run park, and said that Ald. Hopkins reached out to other orgs semi-recently and not them though they’d been part of his process, suggesting he doesn’t want to hear them
Another speaker said she works with architect Richard Wilson, who was invoked by Hopkins earlier, & that he just reaffirmed to her his opposition
She noted that CMAP recommends 4 acres of park space per 1000 residents, & that w/ 6000 units in #LincolnYards, a minimum of 12,000 people will be added. “Put a park where the people are going to live”
Another public speaker raised the idea of there being a problem with retail vacancies in Chicago, and asked how the addition of all this retail space will affect that; another asked how many of the labor representatives speaking in support live in the affected area
Over a hundred people signed up to speak today about #LincolnYards and George Blakemore is of course one of them. “The whole system is corrupt,” he said. “They’re gonna rubber stamp this.”
A speaker supporting #LincolnYards spoke abt Sterling Bay as a “great corporate citizen,” saying that “with no fanfare” it’s started looking into adding 4 acres of parkland in other neighborhoods “like Englewood,” & that it has other good programs that should provide faith in it
Another speaker asked about details on the school, and a rep from Sterling Bay said they’ll work with CPS based on their needs. Didn’t quite catch the number, but I believe he said there could be 150 children there, or as many as 300. (If you caught that better, lmk!)
The public speaker portion is over! Ald. Burnett is responding to what a speaker said a while ago about ensuring some affordable housing for people in his ward is in the development. He emphasized affordable housing is for everyone, not just black people
Alderman Hopkins is responding to the contention that architect Richard Wilson does not support the development by reading from the email he received from him this morning, and saying he doesn’t understand why now there’s a different account of Wilson’s position
Hopkins is defending the community input for #LincolnYards, saying it was a “robust and inclusive process” that doesn’t end with this vote. Says the traffic study was reviewed by CDOT and is up on his website now (though I didn’t immediately find it). Urges an aye vote
The commission has voted to approve the #LincolnYards proposed planned development. All present voted yes except Commissioner Lyons, who recused herself
And that’s it. #LincolnYards clears the Chicago Plan Commission. We’re continuing with the other items for the meeting, but the room totally cleared out after the vote (making it a little hard to catch the details of the next item in the process)
We’re on item number 3 of the agenda, the first one after #LincolnYards. The applicant proposes to construct two adjoining buildings, each 43-44 ft tall, with 10 townhouses with attached 2-car garages
The project is called Lake Park Townhomes and is located at S. Lake Park Ave. & E. Pershing Rd. in the 4th Ward
Commissioner Flores is concerned about the row of garage doors facing the street, and if there’s a safer and more walkable option. Describes this as a “very non-creative solution.”
Btw, the full list of commissioners who voted on advancing #LincolnYards today is Bond, Burnett, Flores, Garza (voted by proxy), Kelly, Murphey, Reifman, Scheinfeld, Shah, and Cabrera (all aye), with Lyons recusing herself
Item 3, the Lake Park townhomes, was approved, with a no vote from Commissioner Flores. Garza and Lyons were not called during the vote, so guess they (or in Garza’s case his proxy) left. The list of commission members can be found here: chicago.gov/city/en/depts/…
Item 4 on the agenda is a proposed update to the 2005 Chicago River Corridor Design Guidelines and Standards. Presenter talked about how input was gathered during the River Edge Ideas Lab exhibit and stakeholder meetings in the fall
The riverfront would be divided into more distinct character zones. Minimum path widths would be expanded depending on zone. New guidelines for signage (details on that TK next month), light fixtures, plantings, active frontages for buildings
All new development within 100 ft of Chicago waterways would trigger a mandatory planned development, and a minimum 30’ setback will be required. There’d also be a requirement of following a subset of 17 menu items related to nature depending on development size
In response to a question from a public speaker, it was clarified that the guidelines re: setbacks and planned developments is not retroactive, but is triggered by new projects etc.
Allen Mellis also spoke, saying he worked on the 2005 guidelines and was “impressed with the completeness” of the new ones. He was happy to see his suggestions during the process were implemented, & further suggested requiring reserved parking spaces near accessible access points
The update to the Chicago River Corridor Design Guidelines and Standards was passed. All commissioners voted yes except Flores, who recused herself, and Burnett, who had stepped out
Item 5 is a proposed map amendment / rezoning within the North Branch Industrial Corridor for 2029 N Clybourn Avenue. The applicant proposes rezoning to C1-2 (Neighborhood Commercial) from M1-2 for continued use of the property as a shopping center
The proposed map amendment / rezoning at 2029 N Clybourn was approved by the commission
Item 7 (we appear to have skipped 6) is a proposal to construct a 47-foot tall residential building with 4 dwelling units and parking, in the 44th ward at 454 W. Barry. The applicant wants to install a vehicular turntable to help with parking!
The proposed project is separated from the lake shoreline and doesn’t restrict access to it or hurt wildlife habitat, the presenter says
With comment only from George Blakemore (in opposition), the commission passed the item
We’ve come back to item 6, an informational presentation on a request for site plan approval for 333 West Wolf Point Plaza. It’s a 3-tower development, & an amendment to the planned development was approved in 2013. Today’s presentation is about the 3rd tower/last phase
The tower will cost $750 million and will be 815 feet tall. It’s an office building. One of the commissioners said it will be Salesforce Tower, and praised bringing the company to Chicago
One of the public speakers, who does river architecture tours, says he’s been following the project for years and is disappointed that this tower won’t be soaring and graceful, but will be more squat, in a revision from the initial plans. “It’s once again a missed opportunity.”
George Blakemore is concerned about the lakefront access in the project. There’s no vote on this item, since it’s an informational presentation. And with that, the Chicago Plan Commission meeting is adjourned. Thanks to everyone for following along! #ChiDocumenters
One last thing: here’s a link to the current #LincolnYards master plan if you were looking for it! lincolnyards.com/sites/default/…
Here’s a summary of the #LincolnYards approval by the Chicago Plan Commission today from @Ryan_Ori chicagotribune.com/business/colum…
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