One Central, the ambitious plan to cap the train tracks west of Soldier Field with a massive mixed-use development and transit center, earned the backing of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. On Wednesday, the group released a 36-page study touting the economic benefits of the proposal including $120 billion in taxes and transit revenues over 40 years.
Conducted by AECOM and Ascend Infrastructure, the chamber-commissioned report also concluded that the $19 billion project will support 40,000 construction jobs, create 210,000 permanent positions, and pay billions of dollar in economic dividends to the surrounding South Side neighborhoods, Chicago’s Museum Campus, and the McCormick Place convention center.
As presented by Wisconsin-based Landmark Development in March, the 34-acre One Central project would sit atop a 50-foot-tall deck supporting ten skyscrapers, public open space, and a landscaped pedestrian bridge connecting the South Loop to the lakefront. A proposed transportation hub would serve Metra, CTA, and Amtrak trains and a proposed “Chi-Line” circulator utilizing the sunken busway between McCormick Place and the Loop.
“We need bold and innovative ideas to position Chicago on a global scale,” said Jack Lavin, president and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce in a statement. “One Central creates a new civic asset that unifies local, regional, and national transit systems unlike anything else we have seen in the country. It creates a new gateway to connect Chicago’s central business district, our great civic assets, and the South Side and South Suburbs.”
Despite the chamber’s glowing endorsement and Landmark Development’s claim that One Central won’t seek controversial tax increment financing (TIF), the project will need to overcome some political obstacles before it becomes a reality.
It will need to win over incoming Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a growing City Council contingent that has vowed to be less friendly to large developer interests, and—perhaps most importantly—local 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell who already said she will push for significant reductions to One Central’s height and density.
“The chamber can say what it wants,” Dowell told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday. “I have to look at it from the point of view of what’s in the best interests of the people that I represent.” Landmark Development is expected to host a series of public workshops later this month to collect more resident feedback, said the alderman in an email.