Finkl steel mill redevelopment: Community Round Table explores options

Finkl Steel site

Neighbours and community groups had the opportunity in early May to discuss the future of the former A. Finkl & Sons steel mill and the adjacent riverfront industrial sites along the Clybourn Corridor Planned Manufacturing District (PMD) at a community meeting hosted by 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins.

The community round table at DePaul University provided  an opportunity for neighbors and community groups to voice their individual opinions and collaborate with others, Curbed Chicago reported. Ideas included a tech hub, a motion picture soundstage, multifamily housing, riverfront green space, and a host of infrastructure improvements.

Logan Square Neighborhood Association director of housing and land use John McDermott warned against converting the land to residential uses at the expense of jobs.

Mike Holzer of the North Branch Works reiterated the group’s $200,000 planning and development study that explored possible uses for the Clybourn Corridor PMD  published earlier in 2016.

The Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce echoed calls to see the site turn into an Urban Innovation District. Martin Sorge, the group’s director of community development, voiced his support for limiting auto-centric retail at the site. He contended that this type of retail would be a detriment to Lincoln Park’s existing pedestrian-friendly business corridors.

Improving transportation infrastructure was a very popular topic among many of the meeting speakers, including possible new bike lanes, automobile connections, access to the Chicago River, or an improved Clybourn Metra station.

A number of neighbors strayed from the Finkl topic to voice their concerns over the future operation of General Iron at 1909 N. Clifton.

Flyers calling for General’s removal from Lincoln Park were distributed at the May 3 and prompted Alderman Hopkins to clarify that while such literature is protected under free speech, the materials were not part of the official information packet from his office.

The Curbed report says, following testimony from neighbors and representatives of the area’s community groups, the meeting broke up into a series of round-table charrettes, where members of the public and local stakeholders could discuss and map what they’d like to see at the 28-acre former steel mill. Each table was moderated by a graduate student of DePaul’s Sustainable Urban Development masters program.

Very little in the way of concrete plans for the future of the Finkl site and PMD-1 were actually revealed on that meeting. Alderman Hopkins did announce a following meeting set for June 6 at UI Labs at 1412 N Cherry St. According to DNAinfo, the city’s department of planning will be present — perhaps a sign of a pending zoning change.

One participant reported in a Curbed Chicago comment:

Bike connections via a riverwalk, new park space and extending the 606 somehow were all discussed at our table. However, retail was thought to be best if it was tied into products being made on site, as a way of tying an active streetscape into the creating that could still happen within the Innovation District. Residential was agreed to make little sense unless it was multifamily above manufacturing based retail focused on existing retail pedestrian streets. It was the most productive public meeting I have been to since the Streets for Cycling public meetings.


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