Lincoln Yards breaks ground on a $5B mega-project that will transform Chicago’s North Side

After years of planning, Sterling Bay broke ground this week on a life sciences center for Chicago’s biotechnology needs.

The life sciences center, known as ALLY, will be a 320,000-square-foot building at 1229 W. Concord Place, on the southwest end of the 55-acre Lincoln yards mega-development. It will feature 280,000 square feet of medical research labs and creative office space, Sterling Bay officials have said.

The project’s groundbreaking formally kicks off Sterling Bay’s construction on the Lincoln Yards development. Sterling Bay CEO Andy Gloor, joined by contractors, city officials and supporters of the project, called it “the hardest deal I’ve ever done” in his 28 years of working in real estate.

“I could not be prouder to be standing here marking the start of Lincoln Yards,” Gloor said.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) has advocated for Sterling Bay’s development plans for years, saying he has “fought so hard for this day as an alderman.” Hopkins praised the mega-development for bringing 11 acres of new parkland, transportation improvements, an extension of the 606 trail and a new Metra station.

“This land is now being returned to its rightful use for the community,” Hopkins said. “We’ll finally be untangling the mess that is the Armitage/Ashland/Elston intersection. And by the way, that’s a promise, and I intend to keep that promise and so does Sterling Bay.”

Other projects included in the mega-development include:

  • New bridges over the Chicago River
  • Water taxis
  • Dedicated bicycle lanes
  • A potential light-rail transit way and extension of the city’s street grid

When finished, the ALLY building will also feature 128 feet of frontage along the Chicago River, conferencing and collaboration space, private balconies on every floor and amenities like a fitness center on the first two floors, according to its website.

Global architecture firm Gensler will be the lead designer on the project, “creating an environment that feels light, bright and wellness-driven,” according to Sterling Bay.

The building will also have 55 enclosed parking spaces in the basement and more than 100 bike storage racks, according to its website.

“Offering the best in modern scientific facilities, collaboration space, outdoor amenities and quick access to a thriving lifestyle district, ALLY will set the new national standard for live, work, learn and play communities,” said Suzet McKinney, director of Sterling Bay’s Life Sciences.

Lincoln Yards is a controversial $6 billion mega-development along the North Branch of the Chicago River. The project’s footprint encompasses both Bucktown and Lincoln Park.

Neighboring residents, business owners and activists fought the project during months of hotly contested debates. But City Council voted to approve $1.3 billion in subsidies for Lincoln Yards in April 2019.

The Lincoln Yards TIF district, named the Cortland and Chicago River TIF, will generate at least $900 million to cover the cost of infrastructure projects to pave the way for Lincoln Yards.

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