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Grand Plans For North Branch River Development Seen In New Renderings

By  Ted Cox and Stephanie Lulay | July 25, 2017 3:50pm | Updated on July 25, 2017 5:22pm

 Drawings suggest Sterling Bay is planning a series of developments on both sides of the Chicago River's North Branch.
Drawings suggest Sterling Bay is planning a series of developments on both sides of the Chicago River's North Branch.
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DNAinfo Chicago

LINCOLN PARK — A prominent developer is planning a series of projects on both sides of the North Branch of the Chicago River, centered on the former Finkl Steel site, according to renderings being shown to potential tenants.

The renderings obtained by DNAinfo suggest the Sterling Bay development company is planning a series of mixed-use developments on land it's been buying up on both sides of the Chicago River.

One project is the new C.H. Robinson headquarters, which is already under construction at 1515 W. Webster Ave. A rendering also shows developments at 2044 N. Dominick St., site of Lakin tires and recycling, and the former Finkl Steel location at 2011 N. Southport Ave.

Across the river, the company is pondering a development including a market at 1509 W. Cortland Ave. and what's labeled a "multi-modal hub" at 1854 N. Besly Court.

Drawings also specify a "renovated" Clybourn Metra station, as well as extending the 606 trail through a tunnel under the Metra tracks at Ashland Avenue and across the river on what is now the site of a swing bridge, as has already been proposed by Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd).

Hopkins, however, was waiting for more details. "Ideas and concepts, even those accompanied by illustrations, are not sufficient to begin the process of formal community review," he said. "It's fine to discuss these ideas, but we need more than sketches and renderings before a public hearing is convened. Until we have a detailed redevelopment proposal before us, properly formatted as a Planned Development, this amounts to just another round of speculation."

Sterling Bay has not yet released any concrete proposals for Finkl Steel, and much of the site is left barren in a drawing showing possible developments to the north and across the river to the west.

Sterling Bay officials did not respond to requests for comment on how firm the plans are or when they might be formally presented to the public.

Sterling Bay's plans for the area have been a point of interest for those debating the new North Branch Industrial Corridor framework plan to allow mixed-used developments in what was previously a zone devoted primarily to manufacturing. Some residents have suggested Sterling Bay has had plans in the making well ahead of the zoning changes recently approved by the Plan Commission and scheduled to get final approval from the City Council on Wednesday.