Untapped Chicago Real Estate About to Bloom

July 12, 2011

The Dave Matthews Band Caravan — a four-stop summer festival featuring 39 bands — has been playing in Chicago this weekend.

The South Side site has beautiful views of the city skyline.

Tens of thousands have attended each day of the three-day party, which is not at Grant Park or Navy Pier or Soldier Field, but a 470-acre prairie of nothingness on Chicago’s South Side.

The area, bigger than the entire Loop and located along Lake Michigan about nine miles south of the city, used to be occupied by the U.S. Steel’s South Works manufacturing plant, which was built in 1880 and razed in 1992.

The facility made steel girders used for skyscrapers and provided more than 40,000 tons of steel make up the John Hancock building. At its peak, South Works had almost 20,000 employees, many of whom lived in South Side neighborhoods, and was the third largest steel mill in the world.

Now, this prime lakefront space between 79th Street and the Calumet River is empty. But that’s about to change.

U.S. Steel, which still owns the land, along with Chicago-based developer McCaffery Interests, want to develop the property into a brand new community.

the proposed Lakeside development

The proposed Lakeside development.

Chicago-based architectural firms Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Antunovich Associates, and Boston-based design firm Sasaki Associates created the master plan for the new Lakeside development, which includes 13,575 single-family and high-rise housing, more than 17 million square feet of retail and commercial space, a new high school, a marina with 1,500 boat strips and 125 acres of green space with bike paths.

The project is a certified LEED-Neighborhood Development and will include sustainable features including an advanced stormwater management system.

The first phase of the master plan for the estimated $4 billion project, which calls for the extension of Lake Shore Drive, was approved by the Chicago City Council at the end of last year as was $98 million in tax increment financing.

Phase I spans a 76-acre area and includes new homes and 800,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space.

Construction on the new community, which will tie into the Chicago street grid and public transportation systems, is expected to begin in 2013 and will take more than 25 years to completely finish.

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