“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” —Jane Jacobs
Hello Sheffield Neighborhood Association members and fellow neighbors.
First of all I want to wish all fathers and grandfathers a very happy Father’s Day. I hope you enjoy your well deserved time with your family, and I wish you all well.
I would like to start by saying I am very excited about the redevelopment of the land between our neighborhood and Bucktown/Wicker Park. It can be an amazing project and, if done right, it could stitch together multiple neighborhoods on what has been an access barrier for decades. We look forward to a successfully built project once we have had a chance to properly review the master plan and are able give meaningful community input.
I also wanted to share a recent Op-Ed which ran in Friday’s Sun Times [click here] co-authored by each of the surrounding communities of the Lincoln Yards development site: the Sheffield Neighborhood Association, Wicker Park Committee, RANCH Triangle, Lincoln Central Association, Bucktown Community Organization, and a Friends of the Park former president.
The recent Sterling Bay media blitz for Lincoln Yards seems to be in somewhat of a hiatus. We are still anticipating the release of what they’d like to develop on their 70 acres within the North Branch Corridor. If you’ve been reading the newspaper articles or online media reports like me, it seems like the contracts are inked and the 20,000 seat soccer stadium, now partly owned by Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, is coming ‘with the goal of beginning play in 2020.’ They are underway with their Club Name Contest with ‘a chance to win season tickets for the club’s inaugural season!’ They are lining up bands for the year-round concert halls and the smaller venues with the backing of LiveNation (note the nepotism connection to our mayor’s brother).
Imagine that transformation on the existing infrastructure in less than 24 months. It seems they may have their foot on the pedal to reach that goal. When can we talk?
It all looks very slick and very real except for some practical questions.
Yawn. Practical questions are boring.
Looking at the renderings I would ask - where are the parking lots? Where are the new traffic bridges east/west and north/south and transit lines and bus lanes? Looking at the renderings I would ask - where are the infrastructure improvements to handle 10,000 to 30,000 more cars on concert or game night with the added office buildings and residential housing? You don’t need a traffic study to know there is no way our existing bridges and roads could handle that kind of capacity in 2020 or at any time. It can’t handle our current peak traffic capacity now! What would you want me to ask? When can we talk?
Alderman Hopkins assures me that as of several weeks ago his office has seen nothing from the developer. He has assured our Community Advisory Committee that he will not let these things be built in our backyard without the proper review and community input and he will give it whatever amount of time it takes!
I have been pushing hard with other community leaders to get more than assurances for the amount of time we will have between when Sterling Bay makes public their development plans and when they will submit those plans to the City Planning Department for the first step towards approval. Alderman Hopkins tells us that we need to let Sterling Bay submit their plans to the city so we can have a ‘legal document’ of their plans with which we can begin to negotiate.
Other experts tell me if we wait until then it will be too late.
Once the development plan is given to the city Planning Department, the community groups will lose their leverage and will only be able to make smaller changes but that the broad strokes of the development would already be in place. Our input would have less of an impact on the negotiated benefits we might be able to secure for our community. Things such as schools or large, open and public parks and proper infrastructure improvements including bridges and of course a realistic timetable. These are all real and tangible issues and we are entitled to see that their solution has been carefully considered and properly solved. We have been promised we would have input. When can we talk?
Given the ramrod modus operandi Mayor Emanuel has shown on getting what he wants and getting things done in Chicago ($8 billion O’Hare renovation funding and the O’Hare Elon Musk underground tunnel project come to mind with more questions than answers and disregarding the call of Aldermen to slow down and talk about the details) there is concern in ‘trusting in the process’ and waiting to discuss our community concerns. If we wait it may be too late to have a real significant impact. Time is what we need. When can we talk?
A slow methodical review of the plans. Notice of when the development will be announced. A week or two to review the plans ahead of the first public meeting. After the meeting and public input an advisory committee meeting with the developer offering feedback and least two or three more public meetings to review revisions with all interested residents before the plans are submitted to the city for the review process. We have not been given a commitment to that kind of reasonable timetable. So far one public meeting and one SNA meeting is it.
Does this concern you? When can we talk?