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Vague Lincoln Yards plan headed for important zoning vote in just two weeks

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The polarizing North Side megaproject will go before the Chicago Plan Commission on January 24

Sterling Bay

The preliminary lineup for this month’s meeting of the Chicago Plan Commission raised a few eyebrows on Wednesday morning with its inclusion of the 54-acre Lincoln Yards megaproject, proposed for formerly industrial riverfront land between Lincoln Park and Bucktown.

The January agenda was posted just one day after 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins announced major changes to developer Sterling Bay’s two-part project by slashing a controversial 20,000-seat soccer stadium and a multiple-venue Live Nation entertainment district from the plan. The document lists Lincoln Yards North and Lincoln Yards South as its first two zoning agenda items.

The public, however, has yet to review a revised proposal following Hopkins decision to cut the stadium and entertainment complex. Provided Lincoln Yards goes before the commissioners for a vote as indicated, time to do so may be quickly running out.

Alderman Hopkins’s office directed questions regarding to the Plan Commission to the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, which sets the agenda. A representative from the DPD declined to comment specifically on the January lineup, stating that the city organization typically “[provides] materials to press the day of Plan Commission.”

A map showing the boundaries of Lincoln Yards North and Lincoln Yards South.
Sterling Bay

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently told Crain’s that he expects Sterling Bay to unveil a new Lincoln Yards master plan without the stadium and entertainment district “in about two weeks.” Such a timeline would more or less coincide with the January 24 Plan Commission meeting.

Although further changes appear to be on the way, the project’s description on the January agenda provides some insight into Sterling Bay’s ambitious vision to transform the two-parcel waterfront site in to more than 12 million square feet of high-rise buildings.

Lincoln Yards North and South will include a combined maximum of 6,000 residences as well as “ground floor commercial space, publicly accessible open spaces, a riverwalk, and related parking,” as outlined in both the July and November community meetings.

The north and south sites will both seek 3.5 points of bonus FAR (Floor Area Ratio) from the city to bring their total buildable densities to an FAR of 6.5. The development is also seeking $800 million in tax increment financing (TIF) for new roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, although that matter is not slated to go before the Plan Commission.

An earlier diagram from November showing the proposed locations of high-rise buildings, park space, and the now-rejected soccer stadium.
Sterling Bay

Lincoln Yards isn’t the only notable development project appearing on January’s agenda. The commissioners will vote on a ten-story senior housing project at the Six Corners intersection in Portage Park as well as hear a courtesy presentation regarding downtown’s upcoming 1.5 million-square-foot Salesforce Tower development.

The Chicago Plan Commission will convene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 24 on the second floor of City Hall. The public meeting is the first step towards zoning approval, followed by review by the Zoning Committee and finally a vote by the full Chicago City Council.