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Riverfront development project coming to Chicago
Beth Hyatt | October 11, 2017
Chicago riverfront mock design

Photo: Solomon Cordwell Buenz

Tribune Real Estate Holdings recently filed a planned development (PD) application with the city of Chicago for a transformational riverfront development at 777 W. Chicago Ave.

The proposed plan for the site was submitted a month after Tribune Media and Riverside Investment & Development jointly filed a plan to redevelop the neighboring site at 700 W. Chicago Ave.

Located along the North Branch of Chicago Ave., the project was designed by Chicago architecture firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB). The phased redevelopment of 700 and 777 W. Chicago Ave. will be reimagined as The River District, which Tribune says will be a landmark urban tech-centric neighborhood that will reflect how people want to live and work.

Tribune says that the new neighborhood extends Chicago’s downtown district and establishes a natural connection between The Loop, River West, River North and Fulton Market.

Tribune notes that The River District will draw from the best thinking and practices in urban planning, established innovative work, sustainable development and live spaces. Tribune adds that The River District will also reaffirm Chicago as among the most innovative cities in the world.

riverfront area in Chicago

Photo: Solomon Cordwell Buenz

“Our proposed plan for The River District builds on Mayor Emanuel’s North Branch Framework vision – to unlock growth by creating and connecting vibrant sustainable neighborhoods, and attracting and retaining new jobs and talent,” said Murray McQueen, president of ‎Tribune Real Estate Holdings. “Chicago’s growth and innovation as a result of the Framework will cement it as a top destination for companies and talent, and we view The River District as a major contributor to the future success of the city. The River District plan leverages best practices from Chicago and other major cities and reflects how people want to live and work today. Our goal is to create the same in-demand dynamic neighborhood seen in tech centers such as San Francisco and Seattle.”

“Expanding the Downtown District in the ‘Tech Triangle’ will create the city’s first innovation district and become a city within a city, where people will live, work, play, and innovate,” said McQueen.

When The River District is completed, Tribune says the space will achieve an appropriate balance of mixed-uses where demand is great, thousands of jobs will be created, the tax base will expand and the city will realize not only the property’s initial development fees, but a multiplier of the potential property taxes, various user taxes generated from the new site and sales taxes.

More than nine million square feet of mixed-use development rights will accommodate over 19,000 jobs and 5,900 residential units under the current plan for 777, according to Tribune. Tribune also notes that more than 18,000 construction jobs will be created in the build-out of the site, and approximately $1.1 billion in municipal tax benefit to the city will be generated by the project over the next 20 years.

Other redevelopment benefits include:

  • Increased public access and green space: Twenty-five percent, or more than 12 acres, of The River District will be dedicated to public use.  This includes 5.1 acres of riverfront improvements, a public park, associated pocket parks to activate the building/streetscape relationship and site-wide landscaping.
  • Support for city’s pedestrian and bike programs: The plan capitalizes on natural connections to surrounding neighborhoods by providing pedestrian and bike path connections and direct visibility from nearby streets.  The site will also include multiple Divvy bike-share stations.
  • Improved infrastructure enhancements: Under the plan, a major arterial boulevard linking Grand to Chicago and an extension of the city grid at Ancona and Superior will be built and associated signalized intersections installed.  Viaduct construction to connect to Halsted and Chicago and site-wide upgrade of utilities will be made, and the plan calls for a sustainably developed storm water management system and access to high-speed fiber throughout the site.

The first phase of the redevelopment of 777 will occur on the site’s southern end, pending approval from the city.

“This master plan helps the city achieve its vision to transition from the North Branch Industrial Corridor and ensure the area remains an important economic engine and vital job center in the city of Chicago,” added McQueen.

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