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Alderman: Finkl's Zoning is 'Almost Like a Set of Handcuffs'

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It feels like almost anywhere you look in the city right now you'll see demolition or construction activity, and one of the most sought after development opportunities in Chicago is the large 28 acre Lincoln Park campus that was once the home of the A. Finkl & Sons Company. Demolition of the industrial complex began earlier this year, but there's still been a lot of discussion as to what will come next. Everyone from developers, to neighborhood groups, to nonprofit organizations, to media outlets have offered different ideas, but it's going to be up to Alderman Brian Hopkins to preside over the process that will ultimately decide what the future of the area will look like. However, the current zoning of the site prohibits residential and retail development, and in order to propose mix-used developments for the former Finkl steel site, the planned manufacturing district (PMD) that governs what can be built on the property will have to be altered or even repealed.

In a recent interview with WBEZ, Alderman Hopkins did not offer any specifics for the site but did suggest that residents of the community "need to be open to new ideas" and concluded that the PMD zoning "is almost like a set of handcuffs." While the PMD would allow for facilities like the new UI Labs Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute on Goose Island, developers could not build new housing or retail space.

And perhaps the PMD zoning of the Finkl steel site has outlived its usefulness and needs to be dismantled or reimagined. At least one group, the Ranch Triangle Community Conservation Association, has taken this stance. The organization believes that the area could generate upwards of $13 million per year in property taxes if developers were allowed to build residences on the site. They also support relocating the PMD zoning to another area that could use the economic boost.

While we're still a long ways out from seeing developers break ground on the site, it'll certainly be one of the most important areas to follow well into the next year. A chunk of industrial property next to the Finkl steel site and within the PMD is already up for grabs and attracting interest. Developing new residential and retail projects on the industrial land will likely be a long ways out, but considering how large the property is and how rare the opportunity is, it won't be too surprising to see a variety of mixed-use developments one day sprout throughout the old industrial site.

·Future of former Finkl Steel site puts heat on new alderman [WBEZ]
·Group wants 115 acres around Finkl plant rezoned to allow some housing [Tribune]
·The Future of the Clybourn Corridor Planned Manufacturing District (PMD) [RANCH Triangle Community]
·More Info on the Large Industrial Property That Just Listed [Curbed Chicago]
·Former Finkl steel coverage [Curbed Chicago]