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Hopkins says revised Lincoln Yards plan is progress, but he wants more details

Updated rendering of Lincoln Yards development

This updated rendering of Sterling Bay's Lincoln Yards development forgoes the soccer stadium and entertainment district for more park space. | Sterling Bay

Revised plans for the $5 billion Lincoln Yards development are a “step in the right direction,” but far more detail is needed before the Chicago Plan Commission can pass final judgment, the local alderman said Monday.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) turned up the heat on developer Sterling Bay one week after putting the kibosh on two major elements of the massive development: a 20,000-seat soccer stadium and a live entertainment district with large music venues controlled by LiveNation.

Sterling Bay responded to the alderman’s demands by releasing new renderings of the project without those two elements. They include 6.2 acres of park space — up from an original plan for 3.6 acres — paving the way for “expanded programming, increased flexibility for youth and adult recreational activities and a wider variety of potential fields for sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball, and tennis, among others,” the developer said.

The revised plan also includes more streets to “allow for a walkable, mixed-use district that is more pedestrian-oriented around the adjacent park space,” Sterling Bay said.

On Monday, Hopkins said the changes are “a step in the right direction,” but he needs that same “level of detail for the entire, 60-acre site — not just for the parcel where the soccer stadium was intended to be.”

“I’d like to see them continue to make those types of revisions in favor of more open space, more green space, increasing the walkability of the site — all of those things that they did to replace the stadium. I’d like to see them go through the entire plan and make those kinds of changes,” Hopkins said.

“They did tell me they would submit a complete master plan with all of the revisions to my office sometime this week. When we have that document, I will share it with the community.”

The massive project is divided into two planned development zones: Lincoln Yards North and South.

But Hopkins said he has asked Sterling Bay to divide those two zones even further.

“The more sub-areas you have, the more detail you can provide. … We’ve told them to sub-divide it further and give us the intention for what they want to build in each sub-area,” the alderman said.

“I want building heights, massing, design principles for the entire site, proposed structures for Phase One where they intend to begin construction within the next two years. How the site functions from a traffic-flow perspective. Intended use in the sub-areas. This is a mixed use development which is gonna contain a little bit of everything. … We need to know which sub-area is intended for what use.”

The Lincoln Yards project is on the Chicago Plan Commission’s Jan. 24 agenda. But Hopkins said he hasn’t decided yet whether to let the project go through or ask for the final vote to be deferred.

It depends on when he gets the master plan, whether that master plan contains a “sufficient amount of detail” and whether those details “need some measure of community support,” he said.

“Under all of those conditions, I would consider allowing this to be heard on Jan. 24. If one of those conditions or more are not met, then I will defer it from the agenda,” he said.

In November, the Hideout and several other small music venues in Chicago said they were “banding together” in an effort to slow the project for fear it would starve them of talent and drive them out of business.

They’re still not satisfied, even after Hopkins killed the live entertainment district with large music venues controlled by LiveNation.

But Hopkins said that’s all he can do.

“Lincoln Yards not partnering with LiveNation as far as an ownership stake — that was one of the concerns the independent operators brought to me. That’s been resolved. The entertainment district is gone. What’s left is a smattering of smaller venues that could be managed by anyone in the business who’s interested, including LiveNation,” the alderman said.

“That’s about as far as I can go. I don’t see any legal means to ban LiveNation from ever promoting a show at Lincoln Yards,” Hopkins said — and if they were blocked from doing so, he added, LiveNation “more than likely” would sue and win.