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Exclusive view inside Lincoln Yards: construction of “City in the City” begins in Chicago

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CHICAGO – There is an old saying that change happens gradually and then all at once. For the first time since the announcement of the Lincoln Yards building, changes are taking place on a huge stretch of the Chicago River in Lincoln Park.

“If you’re building a city within a city – it takes a lot of planning,” said Andy Glor, CEO of Sterling Bay, a Chicago-based company.

Sterling Bay is transforming 53 acres of the North Side coastal area, which once occupied the A. Finkle & Sons steel plant and other industrial facilities, into a new community of homes, offices, entertainment venues, restaurants and parks.

“This place is the focal point or melting point of Chicago,” Glur said. “If you look at an industrial corridor that stretches for about 800 acres, it separates neighborhoods, so I think Lincoln Yards is a way to connect everyone together in a central place, and y in the logo is a river that comes together like well.”

And for most of the past five years – since the project’s first announcement – Glur and his team have focused on one of the most challenging environmental clean-ups in Chicago’s recent history.

“It took a lot of geologists, tons of environmental experts to figure out exactly how to clean it up,” he said.

The company spent $ 10 million on site cleanup, including major activities such as recycling 69,000 tons of concrete, heating and cleaning more than 27,000 tons of soil, and removing 36 underground tanks filled with toxic waste.

“You call it, we did it,” Glur said. “This is 27,000 tons of compacted, ecologically polluted soil. It contained 70 tons of lead. Literally any environmental problem you could think of was here, and as I said, it was almost 100 years of heavy metal production, so it had to be cleaned up a lot. ”

Now the first building is being completed. It will house laboratories of life sciences, a rapidly developing sector of the economy.

The $ 6 billion Lincoln Yards master plan calls for the creation of a brand new waterfront that will be accessible to the public.

The project will provide about 20,000 jobs as well as traffic to the area, which is of concern to neighbors. But developers are trying to improve the infrastructure of the neighborhood.

“We’re going to add two new bridges,” Glur said. “Corpse Street Bridge right here, we’ll start later this year, which will be an important artery running north-south between North Avenue and Webster, we’re also going to add a bridge to Will Street that connects east-west . After all, what we want to do is redesign the intersection of Cortland and Elston. ”

Local nightclubs, such as The Beat Kitchen and Hideout, were also worried that plans to build a new live venue run by Live Nation would crush smaller stages, but Sterling Bay abandoned those plans along with the proposed football stadium.

There were also proponents of racial justice who opposed the allocation of funds to fund higher taxes on high-end construction in one of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods. They filed a lawsuit to stop the $ 1.3 billion funding approved by the city council, but the lawsuit was dismissed. Cook County Judge Neil Cohen, who ruled that the groups have no legal position. However, there are those who continue to oppose the use of TIF funds in Lincoln Yards.

“We’re talking about $ 1.3 billion, which – in context – is about the same amount of money the mayor has invested in ten quarters in his flagship program called Investing Southwest. So for every dollar that comes to Lincoln Yards, 10 cents goes to Englewood through this program, ”said Niketa Brahr, CEO of Chicago United for Equity.

Glory said Sterling Bay continues to meet monthly with neighborhood stakeholders to get input and ideas as it develops.

“This is something we will continue to do to make sure all stakeholders in the neighborhood feel what we are trying to do,” he said.

Here is information about Lincoln Yards from Sterling Bay:

THE PAST: Cleaning up the environment in Lincoln Yards

Lincoln Yards consists of 53 acres of coastal land in the North Branch Corridor, an area that has been used by heavy industry manufacturers for more than 100 years.

As a result of its industrial history, this land was heavily contaminated with toxic chemicals and posed a threat to the surrounding society when Sterling Bay was originally acquired.

To prepare the ground for future development in Lincoln Yards, Sterling Bay had to invest $ 10 million in extensive restoration efforts that have since laid the groundwork for what will soon become a green, healthy, active new neighborhood in the North Chicago Corridor.

Today, as a result of nearly 5 years of intensive environmental engineering work, the site is considered safe for public use – a huge win for future generations of Chicagoans who will enjoy this new riverfront community for decades to come.

MODERNITY: First Life Sciences Building at Lincoln Yards

Currently under construction, 1229 W Concord Place is Sterling Bay’s first land-based development in Lincoln Yards and offers the city’s fast-growing biotechnology community more than 320,000 SF of brand new, state-of-the-art labs.

Chicago is home to many world-class universities that create very promising startups in the life sciences. However, because the city has so little real estate for laboratories, these companies are forced to move to the coast, where laboratory space is much more.

In an effort to retain the life sciences talent that comes from our local universities, Sterling Bay is developing cutting-edge labs at Lincoln Yards that will offer homegrown startups the resources they need to stay in Chicago while retaining talent and economic opportunities here in our city.

THE FUTURE: Steelyard

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