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Report: ambitious 62-acre South Loop redevelopment could include 50-story tower

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Developer Related Midwest has revealed more details regarding Chicago’s upcoming “city within a city”

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Twelve months after finalizing the acquisition of 62 acres of vacant riverfront land between Chicago’s South Loop and Chinatown neighborhoods, developer Related Midwest is beginning to hint at their ambitious plans for the overgrown parcel. Expected to be one of the largest real estate developments in Windy City history, the $5 billion project will include 10 million square feet of residential and commercial space for the sprawling site.

Instead of emulating the closed-off residential enclave of nearby Dearborn Park, the mixed-use riverfront redevelopment will reportedly strive to be a 24-hour type of neighborhood where future Chicagoans will not only live but also work and play. Related Midwest is planning large scale office campuses, hotels, retail corridors, public art, and events spaces. According to the Chicago Tribune, the tallest structures will likely reach “at least 50 stories” in height.

Other reported improvements include infrastructure and transit upgrades including a potential new CTA stop, a Metra station, and the long-planned Wells-Wentworth Connector. Much like the multi-phase Riverline project under construction to the immediate north, a publicly accessible riverwalk will run along the length of the site and be flanked by active uses. Meanwhile, roughly 30 percent of the parcel is expected to remain green space.

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The 62-acre site is currently referred to by some by its unofficial—and rather unflattering—name of Rezkoville. Former political power broker Tony Rezko had previously planned 4,600 residential units and roughly 670,000 square feet of retail space at the location before being convicted of fraud and money laundering. More recently, it was the site of a riverfront tent city supporting a sizable homeless population.

While speaking about the project on-site with the Tribune late last week, Related Midwest President Curt Bailey was decked-out in urban streetwear and a baseball cap featuring prominent ‘78’ branding. The numerology was reportedly selected to represent how the redevelopment will increase Chicago’s existing 77 official neighborhood areas by one.

Construction is unlikely to begin before 2019. Related Midwest and design partner Skidmore, Owings & Merrill have yet to release formal plans for the site’s redevelopment and still need to publicly engage the community and city prior to gaining any zoning approvals. According to estimates from some experts, the entire project could take up to 15 years to complete.