CITY HALL — A City Council committee signed off on the $106 million sale of city property to Sterling Bay Tuesday after the local alderman said he got an additional two acres of recreational parkland thrown into the deal.
The Housing Committee approved the sale of two city lots — 18 acres at the former Fleet Management site at 1685 N. Throop St. and an additional five-acre parcel at 69th Street and Wentworth Avenue — to developer Sterling Bay. Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) testified that earlier in the day he'd gotten the developer to bump up pledges for recreational parkland from 10 acres to 12 acres.
"As a result, I'm pleased to support" the sale, Hopkins said.
Hopkins cited how the Fleet Management lot is the only piece of city-owned property in the 760 acres of the North Branch Industrial Corridor, now being thrown open to mixed-used developments just north and south of Goose Island. He spoke of the community's "need for additional park space, the need for additional open space."
Drawing a distinction between recreational space and open space, Hopkins said, "There's a difference between a soccer field and a trail along the river with benches to sit on."
According to Hopkins, Sterling Bay committed to a six-acre contiguous recreational area and another six acres to be determined later, on top of the estimated 50 acres that will come in the form of riverfront trails. The parkland will be within the North Branch corridor.
Hopkins had tabled the sale at an earlier Housing Committee, saying he wanted to "expose this to a little more scrutiny." He said response was "largely positive" at a community meeting on the matter late last month, but that "we're going to continue to seek opportunities to increase the open space" in any new developments in the North Branch Industrial Corridor.
Hopkins said he and Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) were in negotiations to create a new park on the border between their wards, later adding that it was "highly likely to be on the river."
Burnett added that the Sterling Bay development, including the former Finkl Steel site, "may be looked at for Amazon" as the internet sales giant seeks a location for its second headquarters.
Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) also cheered how the sale would produce revenue for a new Police and Fire Department training site on the West Side.
"This is a good deal," Hopkins said, "and it's a win for the entire City of Chicago."
Sterling Bay is paying $104.7 million for the Fleet Management lot, which will be moved to Englewood. It's also paying $1.3 million for a five-acre city lot on the former site of Kennedy-King College at 69th and Wentworth across the street from what will be the new Fleet Management lot. The city hopes that land will be developed commercially to complement the new activity in the area.
The sale goes before the full City Council Wednesday for final approval.