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1840 N Marcey Development Proposal

Based on urban planning concerns that were not addressed, and the overwhelming negative feedback my office received from the Ranch Triangle Association and the immediate neighbors, I do not support the Sterling Bay development proposal at 1840 N Marcey as is.


After the area was redistricted into the 32nd Ward last year, we held the first community meeting and took significant input from neighbors and the community group RANCH Triangle. Neighbors pointed out the need for a compromise on the project including a reduction in height, parking, and adding affordable units onsite. 


The project asks for all the benefits of a Transit Oriented Development with bonuses but fails to meet the TOD parking requirements. The compromise was to remove one story but add more units, and reduce some of the parking. Despite the slight reduction in the number of off-street parking spaces from 360, the current plan still calls for the equivalent of over nine parking spaces per 25’ x 125’ residential lot, a level of parking that guarantees significant increases in traffic congestion and gridlock. Transit-Oriented Developments (TODs) should see far less parking than what this proposal demands. Additionally, the developer wanted to send the affordable units off site into some other neighborhoods, not building them on their development, which often means the affordable units are never built.  


Yesterday at the Plan Commission, they said they would build some affordable units but only if they are given a property tax reduction on their property by the City. The Marcey property tax reduction would start at 100% allowable rebate for the first three years and then can be reduced over a period of years, depending on a formula created by the state law. 


Furthermore, this area is also referred to in the North Branch Framework Plan as a buffer area because it assumes that the nearly 600-foot-tall high rises contemplated for Lincoln Yards have been built and the transportation infrastructure is in place to support them. 


That transportation infrastructure, including a transit way, expanded CTA bus service, bike routes, and bridge improvements have not been done. Merely calling for the introduction of new CTA service on Clybourn won’t work, and is highly unlikely given the state of the CTA. If you recall, many of these promises were made during the process of approving Lincoln Yards for Sterling Bay starting back in 2016. We will still work with everyone to make sure that something more in Lincoln Yards is developed so it does not remain as is. 


Our role as leaders is to engage in the work of reaching an effective compromise between the preferences of developers, the financial feasibility of projects, and the concerns of the community. The City made it clear that it was fine with the proposed development as is and saw no issues with the height, density, offsite affordable units, or parking prior to any public meeting.


The community proposal asked for an eight-story residential building with up to 400 units, including 20% affordable units on site, and a reduced demand on vehicles. This would have still allowed for an inclusive mixed use development in the area yet would have maintained some connection to and respected the context and character of the surrounding neighborhood. The response was that this was completely unacceptable because the developer was unwilling to accept anything less than multiple high rises on the site.


My role as Alderman is to work toward a compromise between the community and developers and create a balanced development. We will continue to do that. Thank you to the neighbors and RANCH Triangle for their continued efforts to build an inclusive, pedestrian, and bike friendly, mixed-use neighborhood that has not said no to development, but has continually asked for balanced development that includes affordable housing.


Finally, while we have not had any interaction with the Mayor on this development, he did make a statement that was forwarded to us: What my Administration is committed to doing is to bringing real economic development across the city. Now again, the anti-business, quite frankly, the anti-black and brown policies that have created so much harm in the city, that day is over, that's why we're working hard to bring real economic development to the people. What I have committed myself to doing and what I've demonstrated is I work with people. I need people to calm down and relax, just relax. We're having conversations. Because that's how you build a better, stronger, safer Chicago. This is not some contentious, fake spat or rift between my presentation and others. This is about having a real conversation about how we have the vibrancy in this city so that we can recover. The conversations aren't going and look, there are people who may not have fully embraced our vision for a better or stronger safer Chicago. We're going to continue to organize people so that they understand the full value of what it means to invest in all our communities.


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