Sterling Bay Falls Short In Attempt To Build Community Support For Lincoln Yards

Written by Bisnow/Brian Rogal

Sterling Bay's development team faced a full house Nov. 29.

The developers had already publicized their revised outline for the former Finkl Steelsite along the Chicago River, first unveiled in July, so there were no real surprises. Sterling Bay boosted the amount of park space, removed two buildings from the proposal, and cut down the high-rises from 800 feet to a maximum of 650 feet.

Residents of the adjacent Lincoln Park and Bucktown neighborhoods still expressed concern over how much traffic the project’s 5,000 residences, new office buildings and 20,000-seat soccer stadium will generate. Debate also continues on how much open space will exist, who will control it and what possible threats to local music venues are posed by Sterling Bay’s partnership with Live Nation, an events promoter that will operate a Lincoln Yards complex.  

Sterling Bay has already proven it can transform neighborhoods. It created Google’s new regional headquarters out of a cold storage building, helping fuel remarkable amounts of growth in the West Loop’s Fulton Market. But that area had mostly industrial users, and the company’s most recent experience illustrates that developers may struggle when launching transformative projects near residential neighborhoods.

“I understand this is a big change,” Sterling Bay Managing Principal Andy Gloor said. He began by telling the crowd the entire development team lives within a mile of the site and shares the concerns about possible traffic congestion and any adverse effect on local schools.

Gloor attempted to dispel rumors the firm would soon see hundreds of millions of dollars flow into its coffers through the proposed tax increment financing district. Sterling Bay plans to pay for the necessary infrastructure, he said, and it will only get repaid after finishing the work. He said those improvements will benefit every resident by stitching together neighborhoods long separated by a belt of industry and dead-end streets.  

 

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