The controversial proposal will determine the future of the Lincoln Park and Bucktown border.

By Chicago Documenters

Photo by @jordancsarti

Photo by @jordancsarti

The $6 billion Lincoln Yards development project needs approval from multiple committees before it goes before the full City Council for the green light. The whole thing can be quite bewildering, but Documenters have been there along the way, capturing dozens of public commenters for and against, as well as the debates among officials before they provided unanimous approval (with abstentions) each time.

It’s part of Documenters’ mission to build a new public record and illuminate obscured government processes.

This edition, we’re focusing on Documenters’ work so far this year, keeping track of two agencies under the Department of Planning and Development: the Plan Commission and the Community Development Commission. Both are made of alderpeople and mayor-appointed commissioners who review planning and development proposals, then offer recommendations to City Council on whether to approve the project. The Plan Commission reviews development projects, plans and proposals and how they will affect the city as a whole, considering zoning, building height and size, affordable housing requirements, traffic, walkability, proximity to a waterway and more. The Community Development Commission reviews all things TIF (tax increment financing): creating new TIF districts, sale of city property within TIF districts and allocating TIF funds for private redevelopment projects.

January 24, 2019

Plan Commission approves the revised Lincoln Yards master plan, which was published just five days earlier, leaving little time for community review. Documenters captured the action.

  • Susan Carlotta Ellis brought her experience as an architect to her notesand pointed out that, while the proposal passed unanimously, several aldermen felt it passed quickly and without community input.

  • Olivia Stovicek’s thread caught Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) as he slammed down a binder he said was full of letters of support for Lincoln Yards. The site “needed to be replaced with mixed-use and we needed to move forward,” Hopkins said. “The manufacturing legacy of Chicago is gone and it’s not coming back.”

February 19, 2019

Community Development Commission approves the creation of the $900 million Cortland/Chicago River TIF district to allocate taxes to fund publicinfrastructure in and around Lincoln Yards.

  • Colin Smith’s live-tweets cataloged comments for and against. And, on a lighter note, he finds that “that City Council has an affinity for playing smooth jazz #ElevatorMusic.”

  • Dave Glowacz’s notes question key points related to the plan including the projected median income of Lincoln Yards residents and the“finely scripted remarks” of support from minority construction workers in attendance.

February 21, 2019

The Cortland/Chicago River TIF proposal moves to the Plan Commission, which also approves it.

  • Jordan Sarti packed her Twitter thread with photos and videos of citizens who reject Chicago’s $95 million police academy and showed up in favor of delaying the Cortland/Chicago River TIF vote that would fund Lincoln Yards. “This land has value and has not suffered from disinvestment,” one attendee said.

Coming Up: March 7, 2019

special meeting of the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards is scheduled to deal with two zoning reclassifications for Lincoln Yards, approval of which aldermen claimed would be contingent on Sterling Bay adding more affordable housing units. Apply to document this assignment here!

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