Thursday, March 11, 2021

One Central Development Gets Necessary (but Neutral) Endorsement from Metra

The massive One Central Development - aiming to build a development over the train tracks just west of Soldier Field - continues to make moves and news.  This time with Metra (
Bob Dunn, president of Landmark Development, said he had reached an agreement with Metra that would govern work to build “above, alongside and beneath” the Metra Electric tracks without disrupting commuter operations. His project foresees more than 9,000 residences, a hotel and office space built on air rights over the tracks.

Without spending of its own, Metra would get a maintenance yard and a replacement of its 18th Street station. It would be part of a $3.8 billion transit connection for the CTA and Amtrak that Dunn’s firm would build, taking the financial risk, and the state would eventually buy. Dunn has proposed putting a new CTA station at the site but discussions are still in an early stage.

Dunn said the project’s long-term nature and its design that requires the transit and civic improvements come first work in its favor. “You’re going to see multiple turns in the economy” over the life of the project, he told the Sun-Times Editorial Board. “A pandemic is a different factor than we’ve contended with before, but it’s not totally novel.”

He said market analyses show many economic impacts of COVID-19 will be short term. Dunn said he hopes to deliver the transit piece in 2025, before any high-rise development can begin. “We actually believe that it will time well during the COVID recovery period and then the growth that we believe will follow,” he said.
While many of the comments from Metra seem neutral, at least they seem open to the discussion - which obviously is needed to progress here.  

One things stands out is the 2025 timeline for delivering the transit elements.  According to Dunn that would be one of the first things done (it's referred to as the 'civic' elements of the development).  Maybe it's not surprising that he's shooting for 4 years away, but it just goes to show how massive of an undertaking this would be.  We still have our doubts about feasibility and need, but you have to admire their vision. 

The article has some other tidbits worth reading if you're interested in some of the thinking around the  transit elements of the vision.

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