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Latest Lincoln Yards plan replaces stadium with more park space, roads, and buildings

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Sterling Bay continues to tweak the massive North Branch project as its races towards a key zoning vote next week

Lincoln Yards

Just days after Alderman Brian Hopkins slashed a 20,000-seat soccer stadium and Live Nation entertainment district from the 54-acre Lincoln Yards proposal, developer Sterling Bay revealed revisions to its massive megaproject straddling the Chicago River between Lincoln Park and Bucktown.

The company released updated diagrams on Saturday showing park space and recreational sports fields in place of the now-defunct United Soccer League stadium. “Lincoln Yards South will now include nearly 3 additional acres of vibrant park space, almost doubling the park space in this area from 3.6 acres to 6.2 acres,” wrote the developer on the Lincoln Yards website.

The images also show more mid-rise buildings and streets crossing the southern portion of the two-part development. The proposed Concord Place pedestrian bridge was expanded to accommodate motor vehicles and the Dominick Street bridge shifted east, allowing more buildings on the west side of the street.

Lincoln Yards

Sterling Bay says the images preview forthcoming changes to the Lincoln Yards masterplan, which is currently being updated. However, with the $5 billion-plus development slated to go before the Chicago Plan Commission for a key zoning vote in just ten days, time to review further revisions could be running out.

Beyond new bridges, roadways, and a much-needed reconfiguration of the dysfunctional Armitage-Ashland-Elston intersection, Lincoln Yards will need other transportation solutions if it hopes to address the area’s existing traffic issues—especially after if adds thousands of expected new residences and jobs.

Plans call for water taxi stops, a commuter shuttle service, improvements to the Clybourn Metra platform, and a westward extension of The 606 trail. City planners are also exploring a potential mass transitway connecting the site to downtown’s commuter rail hubs as a longer-term solution.

To help pay for all of these infrastructure improvements, Chicago officials have pitched a new $900 million tax-increment financing (TIF) district for the area. The City’s Joint Review Board voted in favor of the sometimes controversial funding mechanism on Friday. The proposed TIF next heads to Chicago’s Community Development Commission for a vote.

Approving zoning and funding for Lincoln Yards—plus two other mixed-use megadevelopments known as The River District and The 78—appear to be top priorities for the Emanuel administration before the mayor departs office this spring.

Lincoln Yards is proposed for mostly vacant, formerly industrial land along the North Branch of the Chicago River.
Lincoln Yards