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Alderman rejects Lincoln Yards entertainment district, soccer stadium

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No Live Nation or United Soccer League

Sterling Bay

The soccer stadium and entertainment district planned within Lincoln Yards was rejected by 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins.

Without the support of Alderman Hopkins, Sterling Bay will have to go back and revise the North Side megadevelopment. Back in November, the developer proposed a plan that included a Live Nation-backed entertainment district with multiple venues seating 3,000 to 6,000 people and a 20,000-seat soccer stadium, in which the Cubs owner Tom Ricketts bought the majority stake.

All this will be slashed from the plan.

“There wasn’t sufficient support and it didn’t seem to be like a solvable problem,” Alderman Hopkins told Curbed Chicago. “It seemed like elements would have still been objectionable, it wasn’t something that could be modified.”

Instead of an entertainment district, the revised plan will include “restaurants, theaters, and smaller venues scattered throughout the site,” according to the official announcement sent through email. And, Live Nation won’t have any ownership. Rather than a soccer stadium, the alderman suggests more open space or a park.

Sterling Bay

Many residents opposed the massive entertainment district and questioned the need for a soccer stadium. In months since Sterling Bay’s proposal was announced, the alderman’s office received phone calls and emails indicating that this kind of development wasn’t wanted. Multiple online feedback surveys also indicated this.

A coalition CIVL led by The Hideout and comprised of other indie music venues, called on Sterling Bay to be more transparent with their masterplan and build responsibly. The group published a list of recommendations, which included slowing down the development process, and met with Alderman Hopkins. At the last community meeting for the project, the group showed up with questions and didn’t let the developer get away with non-answers.

The changes must be incorporated into a new master site plan that will then be submitted to the community for review and comment, according to the alderman’s office. It must have technical details, exhibits on urban design principles with height, massing, floor area ratio, and circulation routes. Design plans for buildings and specific recreation programing for the open space is required in the next presentation. There’s no date set for the next community meeting, but that will be announced soon, according to Alderman Hopkins.

While a lot of the announcement covers what the alderman cut from the plan, he reiterated that nothing yet has received his support. There’s still work that needs to be done.

Residents have made it clear that the jumbled Armitage-Ashland-Elston intersection needs immediate attention. In response, the alderman said the infrastructure and transportation improvements will be the focus of public funds and that the mayor has fast-tracked the intersection’s reconfiguration. Planning will be complete by the end of the second quarter in 2019.

The alderman aims to have the same success as the recently altered Damen-Elston-Fullerton intersection, which he notes was paid for with TIF dollars. The creation of a TIF district was always part of the North Branch Framework plan to pay for this area’s infrastructure improvements, but is viewed by some as controversial tool. Deciding on whether or not to create a TIF district is something the alderman and residents have yet to decide on.

“While these recent changes to the 70 acres that comprise Lincoln Yards are intended to reflect community concerns, the process is ongoing and will continue to be refined over many years, if not decades,” Alderman Hopkins said in the announcement.