UPDATE, March 5, 1:25: Sterling Bay plans to double the amount of affordable housing units in the proposed Lincoln Yards megadevelopment, a move Alderman Brian Hopkins (2nd) said will help win over opponents of the project.
Hopkins spoke at a press conference Tuesday morning where he revealed the Chicago developer now plans to offer 600 affordable units among the 6,000 total residences planned for Lincoln Yards, up from 300 onsite units previously planned.
The small amount of affordable housing in the $6 billion project has been a source of contention for some aldermen, who vowed to vote against the project.
When Alderman James Cappleman (46th) took over as chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee from disgraced Alderman Danny Solis (25th), he said he would delay a vote on Lincoln Yards unless Sterling Bay added more affordable housing.
Cappleman later scheduled a special meeting of his committee for Thursday to consider the project, saying Hopkins and Sterling Bay were negotiating the affordable housing issue. A spokesperson for Cappleman Tuesday morning declined comment on the latest development.
But Hopkins called Sterling Bay’s decision to add the 300 additional affordable units “very persuasive” and predicted the project will win committee approval Thursday.
Mayoral candidates Toni Preckwinkle and Lori Lightfoot, meanwhile, have joined those who want delay the approval process until one of them becomes mayor in May. But Hopkins said the project has been debated and revised since July, a process he said has “consumed” his time, and said there is no need to delay the project any longer.
“If we’ve earned support, we’re entitled to a vote now,” he said, adding opponents have not offered any concrete reasons for a delay. “They’ve simply been saying ‘delay, delay, delay’ for no other reason than to delay.”
In addition to the 600 onsite affordable units, Sterling Bay has promised to develop 300 more affordable units within three miles of the Lincoln Yards site and pay $39 million into a city fund designed to promote affordable housing citywide.
Sterling Bay spokesperson Sarah Hamilton issued a statement saying the firm is committed to be inclusive, whether through diversity in hiring and contracting or through affordable housing efforts.
“Chicago is our home and we are proud to double the amount of on-site affordable housing at Lincoln Yards as well as contribute additional units and funds to the city’s affordable housing supply,” she said.