More Questions Than Answers - North Branch
Early depictions of the soon to be developed North Branch Corridor,  courtesy of Chicago Sun Times and DNAInfo

Dear Neighbor, 

I wanted to share a sample portion of the exchanges from Monday's Joint Zoning and Finance Committee meeting where a number of Aldermen and some of our very astute Ward residents tried to shed light on the city process to redevelop the North Branch Industrial Corridor.

Below is an informal "transcript" highlighting some of the discussion about the North Branch Redevelopment Ordinance that was passed and sent to the full City Council for approval. 

I think you will find the following very interesting reading considering that the full Council is poised to pass the ordinance tomorrow.  You can read the latest news coverage here


Ald. Smith (43rd) : At an earlier public meeting, a representative stated that 7,500 new housing units would be created in the Industrial Corridor. Is that correct?

Department of Planning and Development Comm. Reifman: No, that is "light."

Ald. Smith: How many then?

Comm. Reifman: It will be many more.

Ald. Smith: How many?

Comm. Reifman: We can't say.


Ald. Waguespack (32nd) : Friends of the Chicago River Study shows open space within private developments is often times not accessible to the general public - on rooftops, in enclosed areas. How will you make sure that this won't happen in the new developments in North Branch Industrial Corridor?

Comm. Reifman: The Plan commits to create 60 acres of open space of several types which includes 10 acres of recreational space/fields. There may be some on rooftops. (Note: 49 of the committed acres are devoted to the river walk.)

Ald. Osterman (48th)As someone who travels through this area; Ashland and Cortland are very congested. That needs to be someone with children who drives quite a bit for sports, green space is critical for Chicago. This plan should work with the Chicago Park District to maximize park space.

Ald. Solis (25th) expresses support for the ordinance and also compliments the 17-acre Ping Tom Park in his Ward. (Ping Tom Park is a public park created with public and private funds.)

Erma Tranter, 43rd Ward resident and former President of Friends of the Parks:
Parks are crucial elements in re-development areas. This area has no parks currently as it has been an industrial area and surrounding communities are already deprived of open space.  Open space standards for the city are 4 acres per 1,000 residents. A neighborhood park is 15 acres. The language in this framework is not enforceable.


Ald. Waguespack:
Do you have a number on the cost necessary to implement infrastructure improvements that will be necessary to deal with the new density in the area?

Comm. Reifman:
We don't have a number. Infrastructure works will be done as the area transitions and as necessary.

Ald. Tunney (44th) :
This ordinance sets the wheels in motion for a whole new community, but the improvements required are in a "framework," not a master plan.

Ald. Smith: We are not opposed to development; we are concerned that the City is selling development rights too cheaply. Our taxpayers are entitled to a decent quality of life. Ald. Solis, I agree Ping Tom Park is a great park - and the city has resources to convert some land to a park in the same way that Ping Tom was created. Placing the public's interest in developers' hands is foolish. We give more scrutiny to development of a single city lot.


Jeff Price, member of the RANCH Triangle Community Association:
Why, for the rezoning fee, is the "industrial site replacement cost" based upon the "citywide industrial land acquisition cost" rather than the ACTUAL cost paid by the developer purchasing the property? Why is this factor so low (25%). Why is the bonus fee for density based on the land sale price within the most recent 5 years? Why isn't it based on the ACTUAL cost paid?

Comm. Reifman: We used citywide industrial land cost in consultation with attorneys to make sure that the fee is enforceable. It was my judgment to make the fee the percentage that it is. We use the five year land sale price because we thought it was the best way to do it. In my judgment the percentage is the right amount.

For more coverage of what happened during the committee meeting that took place Monday, July 24, 2017, click here

We remain committed to demanding greater transparency and candor as we advocate for park space and infrastructure improvements that I believe can be achieved.  Stay tuned - the fight is far from over.

Very truly yours,

Michele Signature

Michele Smith
Alderman, 43rd Ward 

43rd Ward Office Hours: M 9 AM - 7 PM, T-F 9 AM - 6 PM 
 2523 N Halsted | 773-348-9500||