Related envisages $5 billion plus “city within a city” on 62-acre South Loop Chicago River site

related city within city
The 62-acre site that will become a $5 billion plus "city within a city" beginning next decade

Related Midwest says it will take its time to develop a “city within a city” on a 62-acre parcel of land along the Chicago River.

The project, which the Chicago Tribune describes as “one of the most ambitious developments ever conceived in Chicago” would include more than 10 million sq. ft. of residential, office, hotel and retail space on the site south of Roosevelt Rd., that would eventually link Chinatown and the South Loop.

It’s cost is estimated to be at least $5 billion, and potentially much more, and will be completed in several phases over the next two decades, Related Midwest president Kurt Bailey told the Tribune.

The west side of the site is likely to include a 100-foot-wide, half-mile-long riverwalk flanked by a row of low-slung restaurants and shops. Also envisioned are public art installations, cultural events and, perhaps, infrastructure including new CTA Red Line and Metra train stations.

“You can get overwhelmed looking at a project like this, thinking about how long it’s going to take, how big it is, the financing hurdles we’re going to have to get over,” Bailey said. “But when you look at this incredible empty canvas, it’s really what anyone in this business, who dreams about what could be a possibility, could ever want.”

Related Midwest doesn’t think construction will start until at least 2019. Architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill has drawn up multiple development scenarios, according to the published report.

“We want to do (the development) right, so we’re taking our time planning it,” Bailey said. “We’re working on creating fun things to do on the site in the interim. Getting people to the site, getting people to understand the site and creating action here is part of our overall plan.”



Related envisions the tallest structures, likely at least 50 stories, along the north and east edges of the site, such as along Roosevelt and the Metra tracks, Bailey said. About 30 percent of the site will remain green space.

The site plan, as well as planning and funding potential train stations and a downward-sloping road connecting Roosevelt to the site will require negotiations with a slew of government agencies, Bailey told the newspaper. Related also must submit formal plans to neighborhood groups and the city to gain zoning approval.

There will likely be several cycles of construction and financing.

Although planning remains preliminary, Related’s involvement in the project represents progress on a site whose sordid history is as long and winding as the river that once ran through it — before the river was straightened in the 1920s to accommodate barge traffic.

The South Loop property had been used as a rail yard, but has sat unused for decades, and is associated with controversial previous owners.



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