The scheme by Tribune Media Company subsidiary Tribune Real Estate Holdings to transform their riverfront development at 777 W. Chicago Avenue has been approved by the Chicago City Council. The master plan, designed by Chicago-based architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB), is the culmination of a multi-year process that included meetings with and input from city planning officials, Alderman Walter Burnett, neighborhood businesses and area community groups.
Along with Tribune’s neighboring property at 700 W. Chicago Avenue, the combined site will be reimagined as The River District, an urban, tech-centric neighborhood catering to residents’ hunger for live-work-play locales. The new neighborhood will extend Chicago’s downtown district and establish a natural connection between The Loop, River North, Fulton Market and River West.
“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,” said Christine Carlyle, principal, SCB.
The first phase of the redevelopment of the property is expected to occur on the site’s southern end, on seven shovel-ready acres that could support 1.5 million square feet beginning in 2020. This will include up to 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. More than 50 percent, or 12.7 acres, of The River District will be dedicated to public park space throughout the site.
The remaining phases will be built out based on market demand and support up to an additional 7 million square feet. Benefits from the redevelopment of the property are expected to include significant infrastructure upgrades including transportation improvements, expansive publicly accessible green space, river access, multiple Divvy bike-share stations and utility enhancements.
“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 neighborhood that will transform the face of the North Branch and serve as a natural extension of Chicago’s downtown, connecting neighborhoods and people. With today’s approval, we can take the next steps to build an in-demand neighborhood 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.
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 signalized 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 fiber throughout the site.