Lincoln Yards Proposal
North Branch Modernization Framework
In 2016, the City of Chicago began extensive review of Chicago’s 26 existing industrial corridors. Among them was the North Branch, located along the Clybourn Corridor, which includes the 2nd, 27th and 32nd Wards.
The purpose of the study was to address the evolving reality of the industrial marketplace, whereby economic trends are signaling the need for expanded commercial and manufacturing uses citywide.
The result of this multi-year, public process came to be known as the North Branch Modernization Framework Plan, which was guided by the input of local residents, community groups, business owners, elected officials and stakeholders.
Recommendations from the framework are reflective of the global economic trends, and drive to transition the industrial corridor to a 21st century hub that accommodates for job growth, infrastructure investment and local, community benefit.
The plan identifies broader development opportunities intended to yield significant public gains such as new jobs, transit optionality, open and recreational space, and an expanded tax base.
Also in 2016, my office hosted a public meeting and charrette at DePaul University, where local residents and stakeholders had the opportunity to identify transportation and infrastructure improvement opportunities, along with ideal areas to host public, open and recreational space.
After the meeting, DePaul University Urban Planning students disseminated the suggestions and feedback, and published multiple reports for consideration to DPD and CDOT.
The North Branch Modernization Framework Plan passed the Chicago Plan Commission on May 18, 2017.
Prior to the vote, I was unconvinced that framework did enough to address concerns pertaining to two essential elements of the North Branch transformation: Infrastructure and park space.
As a result, I held my vote and negotiated with the Mayor and Planning Commissioner to ensure these items received further up-front commitments, along with investment guarantees to deliver on the framework’s principles.
After lengthy discussions, we reached a compromise that saw an additional 10 acres of park space guaranteed, supplemental to the initial 50 acres outlined in the framework.
Furthermore, I introduced and ordinance in May 2016 stipulating that 90% of all payments made by North Branch developers, in exchange for increased density for new development projects, would support vital transportation, infrastructure and open space improvements within corridor.
The ordinance spurred negotiations with the development community. Ultimately, we settled on 70% of the revenues generated by the city from developer impact fees would remain for local improvements - a substantial increase from zero financial commitments outlined in the original framework.
After reaching consensus on the framework plan to move forward, I testified in support at Plan Commission and City Council.
As I mention in my testimony, the passing of the framework is a beginning, not an ending. There is much work that lies ahead, and I look forward to facilitating a transparent, inclusive process where the community helps shape a new North Branch.
Introductory Remarks at December 2016 North Branch Public Meeting
Cortland St. & Webster Ave. Bridge Rehab
The iconic and historic Cortland and Webster bridges, which span the North Branch of the Chicago River have been identified as priority infrastructure to be repaired by the Chicago Department of Transportation. Both bridges are more than 100 years old, and with their historic character, require improvements to ensure they remain functional and operational. Both bridges are Chicago-style, Fixed-Trunnion lift bridges, though neither bridge's lift capabilities are functional anymore.
Repair and rehabilitation work for these two bridges will include repairs to the road deck, trusses, footings and approaches, pedestrian handrails, sidewalks, and to the bridge houses. Lighting improvements along the bridges and along the bridge approaches will be made as well. More information on each bridge repair can be reviewed below.
Both projects are in the preliminary phases and are undergoing Engineering and Environmental studies, and public review. Construction is expected to begin on the Webster Ave. bridge in 2020, and the Cortland St. bridge in 2021.
For more information, refer to the slide decks below, and send your questions, comments, and requests for information to Charlene Howell by email (Charlene.Howell@CityOfChicago.org) or call (312) 744-3244.
Community Advisory Committee
The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) had its first meeting in March to discuss a community review process for future development proposals in the North Branch Corridor.
The CAC consists of presidents and planning chairs of six neighborhood associations whose boundaries lie within or border the North Branch Corridor including:
Bucktown Community Organization
Lincoln Central Association
Ranch Triangle Association
Sheffield Neighborhood Association
Wicker Park Committee
Wrightwood Neighbors Association
Additionally, I've asked the 2nd Ward North Branch Advisory Committee, Friends of the Parks and Friends of the River to participate in the CAC.
I formed the CAC to ensure a transparent, inclusive Planned Development review process in coordination with my office.
After productive meetings, the group reached consensus on an engagement plan that will provide each neighborhood association and their respective memberships the opportunity to review the developer’s proposal after an initial public meeting.
Feedback from each group will influence revisions and determine specific community benefits for the developer to incorporate in their plans.
I look forward to working with each organization and facilitating these meetings in the near future.