Ald. Brian Hopkins has endorsed plans for the massive Lincoln Yards development after a soccer stadium and entertainment district were dropped and park space added to the $5 billion project.
The newly-tweaked plan – the third iteration since last summer – replaces the 20,000-seat soccer stadium and several entertainment venues with an 11-acre park that will include areas for soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis and running.
The developer, Sterling Bay, hopes to begin construction on the park this spring.
Hopkins plans to voice his support for the project on Thursday before a scheduled vote by the Chicago Plan Commission. He said he’s confident it will pass.
“We are very pleased Alderman Hopkins has endorsed the plan for Lincoln Yards and look forward to presenting at Plan Commission on Thursday,” Sarah Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the developer, said in a statement Sunday.
City zoning officials and the Chicago City Council would still have to approve the 55-acre project, which lies on land along the Chicago River in Bucktown and Lincoln Park.
The soccer stadium and entertainment district — which would have included six to eight venues — were torpedoed earlier this month after neighborhood pushback.
The project calls for a series of commercial, mixed use and residential towers that would now include 6,000 residential units and entail 15 million square feet of buildings. Construction would occur in three phases over the course of at least 10 years.
“The reason I’m giving this a green light now is that in my judgment, Sterling Bay adequately responded to all the concerns of the community,” Hopkins told the Sun-Times Sunday.
He first announced his support for the new plan on Saturday in an email to residents of the 2nd ward.
But not everyone is pleased with the sudden increase in momentum that Hopkins has given the project.
“It’s frustrating. We want a slow down in this process,” said Adam Roubitchek, president of the Bucktown Community Organization, which represents about 350 residents.
“We’re all people with jobs and families. It’s hard to keep up. It’s all happening at a rate of speed that’s meant to obscure the process,” Roubitchek said.
“This information was released over a holiday weekend, and this is going before the Plan Commission on Thursday. Where’s the time for comments, questions and review? It looks to us like he doesn’t care about what the community or the groups that are affected have to say,” he said.
Roubitchek said that he, along with leaders from other neighborhood groups, is drafting an open letter to Hopkins expressing these concerns.
Hopkins can still pull the plug on the project during the approval process should “unforeseen complications arise or if something goes wrong,” he said.
The newly altered 108-page plan can be viewed on the Sterling Bay website.
Hopkins also plans to open his ward office from noon to 5 p.m. Monday to hand out hard copies of the development proposal to constituents. The alderman said he will be in and out of the office during that time.
There is no plan to hold a large-scale community meeting to discuss the plan, as the alderman has done twice previously. But Hopkins said he will meet individually with community groups in the coming days and field concerns through a comment section available on his aldermanic website.