Tribune Media has received final approval from the Chicago City Council for a dramatic riverfront development at 777 W. Chicago Avenue.
The approval is the culmination of a multi-year process that included meetings with and input from city planning officials, local Alderman Walter Burnett, neighbourhood businesses, and area community groups.
Together with Tribune Media’s neighbouring property at 700 W. Chicago Avenue, the combined site will be re-imagined as The River District, a landmark urban tech-centric neighbourhood that will reflect how people want to live and work. The new neighbourhood extends Chicago’s downtown district and establishes a natural connection between The Loop, River North, Fulton Market, and River West. Today’s City Council approval of the phased development of The River District reaffirms Chicago as among the most innovative cities in the world.
“We thank Mayor Emanuel, Alderman Burnett, members of the City Council and the many community leaders and city staff with whom we have worked over the last two years to move the River District forward,” said Murray McQueen, president of Tribune Real Estate Holdings. “The River District will be a dynamic new neighbourhood that will transform the face of the North Branch and serve as a natural extension of Chicago’s downtown, connecting neighbourhoods and people. With today’s approval, we can take the next steps to build an in-demand neighbourhood that will help the city continue to attract and retain new jobs and talent.”
Under the current plan for the site, more than 8 million square feet of mixed-use development rights will accommodate over 19,000 jobs and 4,100 residential units. More than 18,000 construction jobs are expected to be created during the build-out of the site. The current plan is expected to generate a $1.1 billion municipal tax benefit to the city over the next 20 years – approximately $60 million per year.
Benefits from the redevelopment of the property are expected to include significant infrastructure upgrades including transportation improvements, expansive publicly accessible green space and river access, and utility enhancements.
> Increases public access and green space: More than 50%, or 12.7 acres, of The River District will be dedicated to public park space throughout the site. This includes 6.8 acres of riverfront improvements, a centrally located public park, associated pocket parks to activate the building/streetscape relationship and site-wide landscaping.
> Celebrates the Riverwalk expansion: As part of the Riverwalk expansion, the site will feature over 2,000 linear feet of continuous publicly accessible pedestrian paths on the river.
> Supports City’s pedestrian and bike programs: The plan capitalises on natural connections to surrounding neighbourhoods by providing pedestrian and bike path connections and direct visibility from nearby streets. The site will also include multiple Divvy bike-share stations.
> Improves Infrastructure Enhancements: Major regional infrastructure upgrades are outlined in the plan, including the construction of a new on-site roadway network and associated traffic infrastructure, and a number of additional supporting and surrounding infrastructure upgrades. 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 signalised 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 fibre throughout the site.
The master plan was designed by Chicago-based architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB), whose principal, Christine Carlyle, said, “We are extremely proud to be working with Tribune Real Estate Holdings on this important project, which will enhance the quality of life for Chicago residents and support Chicago’s growing business sectors.”
The first phase of the redevelopment of the property is expected to occur on the site’s southern end, on 7 “shovel ready” acres that could support 1.5 million square feet beginning in 2020. This will include approximately 1,250-1,500 residential units along Grand Avenue, a 1.8 acre public park adjacent to the Ohio Feeder ramp and 560 feet of linear river walk. The remaining phases will be built out based on market demand and support up to an additional 7 million square feet.