Neighborhood groups are starting to weigh in on Chicago’s largest urban renewal project in a generation. The North Branch Industrial Framework will transform 760 acres of industrial land along the Chicago River on the city’s north side into homes, low-impact businesses, parks, schools, and new neighborhoods.
While it is officially in “draft” status, it is believed to be substantially complete. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “In addition to building a new future for the North Branch area, this framework will also generate revenue from this thriving area to support industrial businesses throughout Chicago. Now we move forward to the next step in the process, which will bring together the North Branch stakeholders to turn this plan into concrete progress for the community.”
It might be surprising to hizzonor to know that stakeholders have been coming together and giving their input on he project for more than a year now.
The release of the draft has 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins cooing about the fact that the plan includes no less than ten new acres of land for baseball diamonds and other park facilities.
That’s just a little larger than the Lakeshore East Park, but in a space 20 times larger. Not everyone is impressed with the commitment to set aside just 1.3% of the land. Among he skeptics is 43rd Ward Alderman Michelle Smith, who says, “The Plan does not contain a mechanism to secure significant contiguous space. This could resulting in a patchwork of acreage tacked onto large developments. Moreover, without knowing the anticipated population, we cannot be sure that this acreage is sufficient.”
Smith, Hopkins and 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack all want at least another five acres, bringing the public space up to 1.9%. “I’d like to emphasize that 10 acres is a floor, not a ceiling,” says Smith “As this process evolves, I look forward to incorporating these recommendations in my planned development zoning review process, along with community and stakeholder input.”