Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards project again runs afoul of area alderman

Alderman Brian Hopkins’ approval is key for the $5B development, but he’s not on board yet

Latest Lincoln Yards rendering, Brian Hopkins and Andy Gloor
Latest Lincoln Yards rendering, Brian Hopkins and Andy Gloor

Alderman Brian Hopkins is once again throwing a wrench into Sterling Bay’s massive Lincoln Yards plan, telling his colleagues on the City Council not to begin the formal hearing process on the project because he’s not on board with it yet.

“It’s nowhere near ready for any hearings,” Hopkins wrote in a letter to the chairman of the Council’s zoning committee, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Hopkins took the unusual step of writing the letter to powerful Alderman Danny Solis (25th) after Sterling Bay submitted its formal planned development requests to the council this week.

Hopkins just last week hosted the first public meeting on the Lincoln Yards project, where Sterling Bay officials discussed their general plans for the $5 billion project, including 12 million square feet of space divided equally between commercial and residential, a 20,000-seat soccer stadium, hundreds of hotel rooms, a new Metra train station and an extension of The 606 trail.

Hopkins said more hearings would be held and Sterling Bay should come prepared with more details.

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The Chicago-based developer for months has touted various aspects of the project, yet Hopkins stepped in in May and sent an email to constituents saying despite all the developer’s talk, no aspect of the plan had received any approval.

It wasn’t the first time Hopkins had slow-rolled the project: He initially stepped in last fall to block the sale to Sterling Bay of the city’s Fleet and Facilities Management facility, an 18-acre parcel that is a key part of the Lincoln Yards footprint. The deal eventually went trough.

Hopkins’ letter this week to Solis emphasized the long-standing tradition in Chicago that grants an alderman final say over an issue in his or her ward. He said Sterling Bay submitted the two planned development requests, which cover distinct parts of the current 53-acre project, without his approval, according to the Tribune.

“While I cannot preclude a private developer from filing a planned development application, I can and will insist that these two applications undergo an extensive community vetting process,” Hopkins said in the letter to Solis.

A Sterling Bay spokesperson did not immediately respond to request for comment from The Real Deal. In a statement to the Tribune, Sterling Bay managing principal Andy Gloor acknowledged the approval process is just beginning. [Chicago Tribune] — John O’Brien