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New City Neighborhood Could Rise on Site of U.S. Steel South Works

Redevelopment of Chicago’s long-abandoned South Works steel plant could take 45 years and cost $4 billion.  The long-abandoned United States Steel South Works on Chicago’s South Side moved closer to undergoing transformation to a mixed-use development when the Community Development Commission unanimously approved a $96 million tax-increment financing (TIF) district to fund the project’s initial phase. The Chicago City Council still must approve the TIF district, which would give the green light for the construction of a major shopping center and approximately 1,000 homes on a section of the 530 acres of lakefront property between 79th Street and the Calumet River.  When completed, the South Works project would have 13,575 homes, 17.5 million SF of commercial space and a 1,500-boat marina.  The ultimate price tag for the massive project could top $4 billion and take 45 years to complete.

The developer is McCaffery Interests, Inc., which has been planning to redevelop the deserted steel mill for five years.  If the City Council approves, the TIF district will be the largest subsidy ever given to a private developer in Chicago.  McCaffery is planning the redevelopment as a joint venture with U.S. Steel Corporation, which owns the land.  The TIF funding will partially finance the construction of streets, sewers and other infrastructure improvements that the industrial site currently lacks.  The firm has announced plans to spend $397 million on the initial 76-acre phase, which would include 848 residences and 844,000 SF of retail and other commercial uses.

“It’s really going to be a new downtown for the South Side of Chicago,” according to Edmund Woodbury, a McCaffery partner.  “All that we’re asking for is what it takes to make the site buildable.  If any place needs it, this is the place.  What’s the role of public investment?  It’s infrastructure.”  Construction is expected to begin in 2013, with the first stores opening their doors in 2014.

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