While Amazon asks the 20 cities shortlisted to keep their bids for its second headquarters confidential, according to a CNBC report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting, news out of Chicago last week reveals the Windy City is moving forward with one site proposed for Amazon HQ2.
Situated on previously protected industrial land, the North Branch Corridor received zoning approval for major redevelopment.
The Chicago River, once called the Ol’ Pisspot by locals, has undergone several transformative redevelopment projects, from residential redevelopment to a long-range plan to increase recreational opportunities, including four community boathouses added along the river.
The former Tribune Media at site at 640-to-740 W. Chicago Avenue is actually one site proposed for Amazon HQ2 of 10, according to the Sun Times.
With zoning approval from the city, a new 310-unit residential tower, three office buildings with 1.2 million square feet of commercial space, parking for 540 vehicles and 50 bikes and 4.5 acres of open space with a walkway along the Chicago River can move ahead.
The Tribune property is probably unique in the country where you have available — in the center of the city, central to all of these emerging neighborhoods — 40 acres. That’s pretty unique,” said Riverside Investment and Development CEO, John O’Donnell.
The May 2017 proposal required relaxing 30-year old zoning restrictions that protected industrial jobs, opening it up to residential and commercial development. While the Riverside project ultimately received zoning approval, three alderman threatened to use their veto power to stymie development if 15 acres in the industrial district were not reserved for recreational space, according to Crain’s Chicago Journal.
This approval is creating competition for Amazon HQ2 among elected municipal council members.
No offense to the alderman over there with Finkl Steel, but we’re moving faster than you, man. Finkl is taking too long. They should come over here, because it’s hot and it’s happening,” Local Alderman Walter Burnett said.
Riverside is to invest $1 million in off-site traffic signal improvements and will be running shuttle buses to public transportation stations in the area.
More office buildings will follow — once tenants are lined up and leases are signed, said O’Donnell.