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New Ward Map Would Put Lincoln Yards Under Control Of Alderman Who Opposed Megadevelopment

A compromise reached Monday marks the likely end of a standoff between Alds. Brian Hopkins and Scott Waguespack to represent the $6 billion megadevelopment.

The Lincoln Yards development along the Chicago River – as seen on Dec. 2, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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BUCKTOWN — The Lincoln Yards megadevelopment could soon fall under the control of longtime critic Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd).

Under a proposed ward map released Monday, the 32nd Ward would be extended east to include the controversial $6 billion development along the North Branch of the Chicago River, situated between Bucktown and Lincoln Park. Lincoln Yards received $1.3 billion in city subsidies in April 2019 after a drawn out City Council fight.

Waguespack voted against those subsidies, and he has opposed the development.

The new map still needs 41 votes in City Council to become law, although reports say it has enough support to pass. Waguespack said Tuesday he thinks it could get 44 votes.

Alderpeople have until May 19 to approve a map before triggering a June ballot referendum, which would send the decision to Chicago voters.

Credit: Provided
A newly proposed Chicago ward map would move the Lincoln Yards megadevelopment into the 32nd ward

Lincoln Yards emerged last year as contentious territory in the increasingly bitter remap fight.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), who represents the area in City Council, vowed to keep it in his ward. Hopkins has supported a map backed by the Latino Caucus, which would have kept Lincoln Yards under his control.

Last year, Hopkins argued he was the right person to steward “a billion dollars” of public infrastructure projects linked to Lincoln Yards and keep developer Sterling Bay accountable.

Those projects include a new Metra station, bridges and an extension of The 606 trail.

“It’s a promise that needs to be kept to the voters, it’s a promise that needs to be kept to the residents. And I view my job to make sure that promise is kept,” Hopkins said at the time. Hopkins did not return a request for comment Tuesday.

Waguespack said he supports taking over the Lincoln Yards site because it had been part of the 32nd Ward prior to the last remap, and he’s familiar with the area and surrounding residents.

He said his job is to now work with all stakeholders involved to “continue to hold people accountable.”

“The way Rahm [Emanuel] and Sterling Bay set themselves up, they essentially got everything they needed in the boundaries of not only the TIF, but the whole Lincoln Yards area. So we just have to go through and manage it in a way that I think does right by the people, not only who’ve been there but who surround it,” Waguespack said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., in West Town on Dec. 2, 2021.

Last year, the Chicago Independent Venue League issued a statement calling for the development to be removed from Hopkins’ control.

“It was Ald. Hopkins who was pushing for the development, so it might be beneficial to the citizens of Chicago to have someone who might have a more watchful eye,” said Katie Tuten, owner of the Hideout bar and venue, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., and a co-chair of CIVL.

Tuten and other CIVL members have long opposed Lincoln Yards, particularly its possible involvement of Live Nation, which was originally slated to operate a $5 billion “entertainment district” in the development.

After intense pushback from CIVL and others, the entertainment district was scrapped in early 2019. At the time, Hopkins said the proposed mega-venue would be replaced by “restaurants, theaters and smaller venues that will be scattered throughout the site,” none of which would have Live Nation ownership.

Hopkins reiterated last year that Live Nation would have no ownership stake in any Lincoln Yards venue, but he didn’t rule out the company having some role in management, booking or other facets of the development’s entertainment offerings.

In a statement Tuesday, CIVL applauded the latest proposed ward map, saying the members are confident Waguespack “will keep the community’s interest front and center” as Lincoln Yards moves forward.

“Chicago Independent Venue League looks forward to continued advocacy for Chicago’s world-renown independent live entertainment community with Alderman Waguespack’s support,” the statement reads.

A spokesperson for Lincoln Yards developer Sterling Bay declined to comment until a map has officially passed City Council.

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