The latest Lincoln Yards meeting recap

Since my last post regarding Lincoln Yards, developer Sterling Bay recently met with the community to answer questions and provide updated plans for the project. As you will recall, Lincoln Yards is the projected $5 billion development that if approved will run along the river between Lincoln Park and Bucktown.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss four main issues: building height and layout, plans around green space, infrastructure improvements, and how the project would be funded. According to reports, there were many community members at the meeting both strongly for and against the project.

Building height and layout

After returning from the drawing board, Sterling Bay cut a total of about 100 stories off the taller buildings. The new version of the tallest tower is now 650 feet (down from 800), and it will also be moved further from the open space. To account for the decrease in height, the new version of the buildings are wider. To me, building height is less of an issue as you get closer to the highway, though I do understand people’s strong feelings on the issue.

Green space
According to Sarah Weidner Astheimer, a principal at the project’s landscape architecture firm, Field Operations, much of the green space design will be inspired by the industrial history of the area. For example, industrial ladles will be used as planters, designs on the pavement will look like train tracks, and slides will be made out of metal, paying home to a metal factory that once sat on the site. There will be a Great Lawn, athletic fields, and a 20,000-seat soccer auditorium.

Infrastructure improvements
Part of Sterling Bay’s presentation at the meeting was devoted to sharing their self-funded traffic study, that looked for congestion solutions around the Armitage-Ashland-Elston intersection, which the city is now reviewing. CDOT will also perform a study, but general recommendations are already being made around increasing parking, making streets pedestrian-friendly, and increasing the number and types of alternative transportation options. Specific plans to accommodate for the development include extending a number of existing roads including Dominick and North Avenue, connecting Southport to Kingsbury, and extending Armitage over the river.

It is still up for debate how the project will be funded, but the most recent suggestion is a TIF (tax increment financing district) within a 168-acre zone surrounding the development. The proposed area would run along the Chicago River between North Ave and Webster Ave, to Clybourn in the east and Elston to the west. According to the city’s Department of Planning and Development, the TIF would raise about $800 million in about 20 years.