5 Chicago developments to watch in 2024
- Here are the big projects on our radar this year:
Chicago's most famous hole is about to be filled.
Flashback: In 2007, construction started on "The Spire," a thrilling new 150-floor skyscraper poised to join Chicago's already world-renowned skyline. But funding dried up and the building never materialized, leaving a 76-foot-deep hole that sat dormant for 15 years.
- Now, new plans have emerged to create two modest towers (still 72 floors) in that location.
- Groundbreaking is set for early this year, with the first tower to be completed in 2027.
If you've traveled past the proposed site for the Lincoln Yards megadevelopment lately, all you could see is barren land. The old Finkl steel mill is long gone, as are many of the surrounding industrial buildings.
State of play: The $6 billion, decades-long project is supposed to bring life to the near North Side area along the river, but so far it has produced only a couple of isolated buildings (plus a temporary pickleball court).
- Last fall, the project was reportedly in need of an influx of cash to start on infrastructure improvements. The city has quietly transferred tax increment financing funds to help support the development.
The intrigue: Chicago's City Council remapped the area — including the 55 acres of land where Lincoln Yards will be built — before last year's election. It now sits in the 32nd ward under the watch of Ald. Scott Waguespack, who opposed the development when it was approved in 2019.
The 62-acre megadevelopment along the Chicago River near Chinatown has seen several iterations over the past few years, but this year welcomes the first big construction project.
What's happening: The University of Illinois is building a research facility, which will serve as the anchor for the proposed 78th community area.
- The university's innovation hub could jump-start the rest of the development, which includes plans for residences, event spaces and a riverwalk.
There won't be any movement on breaking ground in the immediate future, but the debate over a new Bears stadium location will probably rage on.
The intrigue: Last month, we reported that the team was flirting with building on the lakefront just south of Soldier Field, near the spot proposed to house the Lucas Museum in 2016.
- We asked readers what they thought about the idea, and got over 2,000 responses. The majority — 55% — were in favor of the Bears building a new stadium on the lakefront.
Obama Presidential Center
Construction has started on the huge South Side development, which is slated to be finished this year. Crews are finishing the Museum Building and leaving the surrounding landscape work for warmer months.
The intrigue: The Obama Foundation is quick to point out the diversity of the construction workforce, but some Woodlawn and South Shore residents are still worried they'll be priced out of their homes when the center is completed.
What's ahead: The center won't be open to the public until early 2025.
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