Illinois delays feasibility study for Bob Dunn’s $20B One Central

Meant to analyze proposed subsidies and viability for Landmark Development’s megaproject

Illinois Delays Study for Bob Dunn’s One Central Megadevelopment
Landmark Development’s Bob Dunn with rendering of One Central (Once Central Chicago)

Two years after approving funding for a feasibility study, Illinois officials have yet to award a contract to investigate the potential of Bob Dunn’s One Central megadevelopment, causing further delays and uncertainty surrounding the $20 billion endeavor.

The Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity issued a request for proposals last year to assess the viability of the project, which is slated for 9,000 residential units and 11 million square feet of office and retail space, built over Metra tracks near Soldier Field, Crain’s reported

A study would furnish crucial data for state legislators, addressing concerns regarding demand for the proposed office and residential complexes, the necessity of a new transit hub and the financial implications of the state’s potential purchase of said hub for $6.5 billion from Dunn’s Landmark Development.

The contract for the study remains unassigned.

A preliminary contract of nearly $500,000 was awarded to Ernst & Young in August 2023, but the procurement office subsequently retracted the contract without explanation. Although sources indicate a new award may be imminent, the reasons for the delay remain unclear, the outlet reported.

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The project’s complexity is exacerbated by the proposed $6.5 billion subsidy for the transit hub, which would connect various transportation services and a local circulator to tourist destinations.

Landmark Development, the driving force behind the project, has expressed confidence in its economic benefits but remains silent amid the ongoing delay. Mayor Brandon Johnson has cautiously supported the idea, while refraining from endorsing public subsidies.

Dunn’s involvement in earlier plans to renovate Soldier Field underscores the project’s significance in the city’s development landscape. However, it remains uncertain whether One Central aligns with proposals for a lakefront stadium.

—Quinn Donoghue

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