Just months after Chicago City Council voted to approve the controversial Lincoln Yards mega-development, the very first part of the $ 6 billion project is taking shape in the form of new artificial turf football pitches along the western edge. from the huge North Branch site.
“Clearing up formerly contaminated industrial land and returning it to the community is one of the benefits promised by the North Branch Master Plan,” 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins said in an email to residents Wednesday. “On Sunday, July 28, we will take an important step towards fulfilling this promise as we officially open an amusement park space at Lincoln Yards. “
According to Hopkins’ email and onsite signage, the new green space will be known as “Fleet Fields”. The name is apparently a reference to the former City of Chicago Department of Fleet and Facilities complex that once stood on the site.
Sterling Bay bought the 18-acre parcel from the city for $ 104.4 million and combined it with its other North Branch properties to create Lincoln Yards. The developer initially envisioned a 20,000-seat United Soccer League stadium on the waterfront site, but Hopkins rejected that part of the plan based on community feedback.
According to the alderman’s email, the new sports fields are on track to be completed 18 months ahead of schedule and represent only a small portion of the 21 acres of open space accessible to the public promised in the Lincoln Yards master plan. The elected official said he will hold community meetings on permanent improvements to the park once architects and designs are selected.
To support 14.5 million square feet of buildings, 23,000 jobs and 6,000 residential units, Sterling Bay plans to build new streets, bridges over the Chicago River and an eastward extension of Trail 606. The developer will pay. these infrastructure costs up front and will be reimbursed by the city under a $ 1.3 billion Tax Increase Financing (TIF) agreement.
It is not known if Sterling Bay is using TIF money to build Fleet Fields. The Lincoln Yards development is currently the target of a lawsuit claiming the city’s TIF agreement violates state law that requires new TIF districts to demonstrate that an area is devastated and that redevelopment would not have no place without TIF money.