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North Branch developer pitches Bucktown sports stadium to Amazon

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The proposed athletic complex is just one possibility outlined in Sterling Bay’s ‘Lincoln Yards’ HQ2 bid

Sterling Bay

Of the ten sites submitted in Chicagoland’s official bid for Amazon’s coveted ‘HQ2’ second headquarters, one is selling the Seattle-based tech company on the idea of its own sports and concert venue. Slated for the west bank of the Chicago River’s North Branch in Bucktown, the proposed stadium is just one component of Sterling Bay’s bold vision for an Amazon-anchored Lincoln Yards campus, according to new materials obtained by the Chicago Tribune.

Sterling Bay had released an initial batch of renderings providing a glimpse of the mixed-use mega-project last month. The early images showed a number of new low- to mid-rise buildings as well as a riverwalk component, a new athletic field, and a zig-zagging extension of the 606 Trail. At the time, the developer confirmed it was hoping the plan would catch Amazon’s eye.

An Amazon campus at Lincoln Yards could include two connected high-rises straddling the river.
Sterling Bay

The latest pitch materials show a Lincoln Yards site tailor-made for the tech giant and the 50,000 employees expected to accompany HQ2. In addition to the aforementioned Amazon-branded stadium, the conceptual images provide the company with options when it comes to the layout and design of the waterfront complex.

Potential configurations include a pair of connected high-rise towers bridging both banks of the river, a multi-tiered “mega floor plate” concept topped with green space, and an “urban campus” concept centered around an open quadrangle. As with the earlier master planning images, the latest renderings come from Chicago-based architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

The “mega floor plate” concept would create terraced green space above offices.
Sterling Bay

Sterling Bay even provided a preliminary timeline for Amazon’s move to Lincoln Yards should the North Branch land the HQ2. The first phase of the 8 million square foot project could be completed in less than 18 months. If Amazon wants to make the jump to the Windy City sooner than that, the developer could provide temporary space at 311 W. Monroe—not far from Amazon’s current Chicago offices.

The Lincoln Yards campus would span a number of properties amassed by Sterling Bay including the former A. Finkl & Sons Steel Company, the Lakin tire recycling plant, and the City of Chicago’s old Fleet and Facility Management complex. The project could grow to 100-acres with additional acquisitions. This summer, the City passed a major re-zoning of the North Branch Corridor, opening the riverfront land up to new, non-industrial uses.

Another option calls for buildings flanking a centralized plaza.
Sterling Bay

Amazon issued a request for proposals for a second corporate headquarters in early September. Touted as the single largest prize in all of tech, the call was answered by over 200 North American cities or regions. The e-commerce giant is expected to whittle down its potential suitors to a short list before making a final decision in early 2018.