CHICAGO — Days after the developers of the massive Lincoln Yards project had to scrap unpopular plans for a soccer stadium and music district, new sketches of the $5 billion proposal were unveiled.
Developer Sterling Bay on Saturday posted to its LinconYards.com website new drawings of changes it will propose to the south end of the project, which straddles the North Branch of the Chicago River from North to Webster.
Sterling Bay referred to the drawings as “a preview.”
Gone is the 20,000-seat soccer stadium that Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) told Sterling Bay needed to go after local residents, in a series of public meetings, made clear they didn’t want.
It was replaced with more park space, as well as a series of low-rise buildings and more streets. Several other buildings in the area were added or rearranged, as well.
Sterling Bay, which did not provide details about the changes, said in a statement touting the new drawings that the parkland near where the soccer stadium was to be built would nearly double under the new plan, from 3.6 acres to 6.2 acres.
“This increase in park space will allow for expanded programming, increased flexibility for youth and adult recreational activities, and a wider variety of potential fields for sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball, and tennis, among others,” Sterling Bay said in a statement headlined “We’re Listening.”
“This update will also allow for a walkable, mixed-use district that is more pedestrian-oriented around the adjacent park space. Coupled with the opportunity to shift the Dominick Street connection across the Chicago River further east, these changes will improve connectivity, while continuing to respect local businesses,” the developer’s statement read.
In the statement, Sterling Bay said it looks forward to working with residents on how to use the new park land. But residents are also concerned the project, with the changes, is on the fast track to approval.
In fact, it could go before the city’s Chicago Plan Commission before the public gets a closer look at those changes.
The project is expected to be on the Plan Commission’s agenda for Jan. 24.
That could mean the project goes to that key advisory commission before residents have a chance to review and publicly meet over the revisions to the Lincoln Yards plan. Past meetings over the project have drawn large crowds.
And on Friday, the 168-acre Cortland and Chicago River Redevelopment Area — a tax-increment financing district that would generate $900 million to build the infrastructure necessary for Lincoln Yards — was approved by the Joint Review Board. The new TIF district must also be approved by the city’s Community Development Commission, the Chicago Plan Commission and City Council.
Critics of the development, who created a nonprofit called Civl to organize others opposed to what they see as a rushed and secretive TIF process, said Lincoln Yards changing its controversial entertainment plans means the city should delay, not speed up, approving the Lincoln Yards plan. They also want the city to slow down on reviewing an $800 million taxpayer-funded subsidy that’s been proposed to help pay for the development.
“We are happy to see that the city and developer are responding to our concerns, but we see no change on the central issues we have raised,” Civl co-chair Robert Gomez said last week.
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