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Downtown land that Chicago owns is up for sale again — this time thru a sustainable design…

Published on Dec. 30, 2019 by Steven Vance

Updated on Jan. 4, 2020

City-owned land in downtown Chicago is for sale again— this time through a sustainable design competition

A little over four years ago, the City of Chicago issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) for a tiny slice of the Loop that it owns across from the Harold Washington Library Center. This slice contains Pritzker Park and a parking garage south of Plymouth restaurant & rooftop bar.

Back then, in 2015, I wrote an article for Streetsblog Chicago suggesting that the city require an enclosed pathway for ‘L’’ riders to transfer between a Loop elevated station (Harold Washington Library Center/State/Van Buren where the Orange, Pink, Brown, and Purple Express lines stop) and a subway station (the Jackson Red Line station).

The land includes the disused parking garage, plus the Pritzker Park area west (left half of the photo) of the alley, extended to Van Buren St. (Van Buren St. is under the ‘L’ tracks at the bottom edge of the photo). Photos provided on Reinventing Cities website.

I forgot about the city’s intended land sale until last month when it reappeared for sale as part of an international development competition called “Reinventing Cities” to spur sustainable design proposals. The marketing is administered by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, an association of city government executives “committed to addressing climate change”.

Proposals for land redevelopement are occuring around the world through C40’s program, and this is the second round in Chicago. The first round’s Chicago project was in East Garfield Park. A winner was chosen in May, and the developer is working to obtain financing.

The land includes the disused parking garage. Photos provided on Reinventing Cities website.

This time, there’s prime land that will eventually be sold to a selected development team. Chicago will sell four parcels of about 15,965 square feet. The current zoning is the city’s highest: DX-16. At a minimum, there is no height limit and the FAR of 16 means an allowable floor area of 255,400. The program fact sheet asks for a carbon neutral proposal.

Proposers will be able express their interest to the Chicago Department of Planning & Development soon. Then, by next quarter, DPD will finalize specific requirements “with partner agencies, stakeholders, and community outreach”. Partner agencies comprise the Chicago Department of Housing, Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Library, and the CTA.

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A map of the four parcels being offered through the “Reinventing Cities” sustainable design competition.

Cityscape Pro members can get more details on the history and characteristics of these parcels

There are four offered PINs (click on each to get an Address Snapshot):

(One of the PINs listed on the website is erroneous. The “025” should be “029”.)


Downtown land that Chicago owns is up for sale again — this time thru a sustainable design… was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.