This could be the year of the megadevelopment for Chicago, altering the skyline forever

Ryan Ori, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Business News

The developers' plan continues to evolve, with the focus possibly shifting to making the site a destination for medical labs, offices and research, Farpoint principal Scott Goodman said.

Burnham Lakefront, as the development is now called, could bring a park and pedestrian walkway over Lake Shore Drive, connecting it to the lake. Other infrastructure, including a 31st Street Metra station, also is proposed.

--Chicago Spire site

A decade after work stopped on the Chicago Spire, the site's new owner took the wraps off its vision for the 2.2-acre parcel. Related Midwest in May unveiled plans for residential towers of 1,100 and 850 feet tall, designed by One World Trade Center architect David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's New York office.

Plans for 400 Lake Shore Drive, as it's now called, renewed hopes for something dramatic on the site.

But in October, Ald. Reilly announced he was rejecting Related Midwest's proposal. He cited concerns from neighbors about traffic, security along the riverwalk, the height of the podium on which the towers would be built and a proposed hotel in a portion of one of the towers.

In a message to constituents, Reilly said Related Midwest had not adequately addressed "major concerns" about the proposal. Reilly's move doesn't end plans for the project, but it sent the developer back to the drawing board.

The zoning setback also puts on hold the long-discussed DuSable Park on a 3.3-acre peninsula just across Lake Shore Drive, as well as riverwalk extensions.

--The River District

After years of planning, broadcast company Tribune Media's plan to build more offices, a hotel and more than 4,000 residential units along the river was approved by the City Council in October.

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The 37-acre site runs between Chicago and Grand avenues along the river, and it includes the Freedom Center facility where the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers are printed.

The newspaper's parent company has said it has a lease for the Freedom Center that runs until 2023, with two options to extend the lease 10 years each, and has no plans to move the printing facility. Tribune Media said it plans development phases north and south of the printing facility early on, and it's unclear how the broadcast company eventually plans to redevelop the middle portion.

Furthest along is a phase, in a joint venture with Riverside Investment & Development, where offices and apartments are planned on 7 acres on the north end of the site.

The River District includes a path for the city's planned new public transit route between the North Side and Ogilvie Transportation Center to pass through. The route would help move tens of thousands of new residents and workers that new developments along the river, including the River District and Lincoln Yards, would bring to areas north of the Loop.

Tribune Media's site is one of several likely to be transformed in a 760-acre formerly industrial corridor along the North Branch of the river. A construction boom has been anticipated since the Emanuel's administration in 2017 finalized major land-use changes to allow nonmanufacturing functions such as apartment towers and hotels to be built in the corridor.

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