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The Unbearable Lightness of Being Kanye

Kanye West donates $10 million to James Turrell’s volcanic crater project
Artist James Turrell has been taking advantage of the natural landscape of the Roden Crater in Arizona’s Painted Desert since 1977. The unfettered sight lines and isolated desert landscape are perfect for Turrell’s work, and the artist calls Roden Crater “a controlled environment for the experiencing and contemplation of light.” Now Turrell’s long-term, still-under-construction arts center has found a celebrity backer; yesterday, the Wall Street Journal broke the news that Kanye West had donated $10 million. Funding for what Turrell hopes will eventually become an arts campus has been sporadic. While several of the spaces have already been built, only $40 million of the required $200 million had been fundraised before Kanye’s commitment. Once complete, Roden Crater will include an amphitheater, additional rooms, and will host a residency program. Inside the two-and-a-half-mile-wide crater, Turrell has carved a network of temple-like rooms and tunnels that are exposed to the sky, creating vantage points that change based on the weather and time of day. West traveled to Roden Crater on December 11, 2018, and again the next week, tweeting that his tour had been a life-changing experience and that “We all will live in Turrell spaces.” He followed that up with a later visit to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art to visit Turrell’s Into the Light exhibition on December 27. On Monday, the rapper-turned-designer released a statement explaining that he wants Roden Crater to be “experienced and enjoyed for eternity.” The gift stands out among West’s philanthropic work, as he thus far hasn’t made similar contributions to any other artistic institutions. Still, this isn’t the first time that Turrell’s work has infatuated a rapper; Drake danced his way through homages to the artist’s light installations in the 2015 video for Hotline Bling. Turrell is attempting to fundraise the rest of the $200 million in conjunction with Arizona State University. According to Artforum, that money will go towards keeping the site open for the next five years, and the school hopes to eventually integrate Roden Crater with the curriculum of the “Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, School of Sustainability, School of Earth and Space Exploration, and School of Social Transformation.”
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Back Off

Frank Gehry wins restraining order against death threat-sending job seeker
According to court documents obtained by The Blast, a judge has granted Frank Gehry a restraining order after he was reportedly menaced by a potential job seeker. Throughout 2018, a Midwestern man in his 20s (The Blast declined to name the accused) repeatedly visited the Los Angeles office of Gehry Partners to ask about a job. Although Gehry himself never met the man, testimony lodged by his employees noted that he “consistently appeared ‘disheveled’ and displayed erratic behavior.” Unsatisfied with the response he was getting at the office, the man then began sending the 89-year-old Gehry increasingly violent death threats over email, many of which were collected and presented as evidence by Gehry’s lawyer. Even worse, Gehry believed that the man had stopped taking his medication and was going to attempt to force a face-to-face confrontation in L.A. On January 11, a judge granted Gehry’s request for protection and ordered that the man stay at least 100 yards away from Gehry and his wife Berta for the next five years.
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A New Chapter

West Coast firms Hodgetts + Fung and Mithun announce merger
It takes two to tango. At least, that’s the case for Seattle-based Mithun and Culver City–based Hodgetts + Fung (HplusF), two west coast architecture firms that have announced a new, mutually-beneficial merger aimed at boosting one another’s clout in key project sectors. Mithun, a national architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and interior design practice with satellite offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles will bring a bevy of large-scale housing, institutional, commercial, and urban mixed-use projects to the merger. Mithun, originally founded in 1949, has been awarded six AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten awards and the 2017 AIA Pacific Northwest Region Firm award, among other accolades. The firm has its hand in many projects, including a pair of student housing projects at the University of California, Los Angeles, totaling 3,200 beds and a new mixed-use complex at University of California, Irvine, among others. Hodgetts + Fung, a small design firm helmed by architects Craig Hodgetts and Hsinming Fung, is well-known for its signature and artful cultural commissions, including a recently-completed renovation and expansion to the historic Frost Auditorium in Culver City, the Menlo-Atherton Center for Performing Arts in Silicon Valley, the Nashville West Riverfront Park Amphitheater, Towell Library at UCLA, and the Chapel of the North American Martyrs on the Jesuit High School Campus campus in Carmichael, California. Over the years, HplusF has been awarded over 40 design awards, including the AIA California Council Firm Award in 2008.

Explaining the reasoning behind the merger, Mithun president Dave Goldberg said, “Finding such strong design talent and fit with Craig and Ming is remarkable, and we are very excited about the positive impact we will be able to make together in Southern California and beyond.”

But don’t think this is a path toward early retirement for Hodgetts and Fung, who have been practicing together for over 35 years. Hodgetts explained that the merger is, in fact, the opposite of that, saying, “Some well-established firms look for a merger as an exit strategy, but this is a re-entry strategy for me, Ming, and our firm to expand to a much larger stage which, quite frankly, is not readily available to a smaller practice.” Fung added to the sentiment, saying, “We have been approached to join other firms before, but from the very first conversation, it was clear we had a lot in common with Mithun in design approach and studio culture.”

With the merger, the firms will share a name in Los Angeles—Mithun | Hodgetts + Fung—for now, but that could change in a few years as the new entity becomes more established.

The union will give HplusF the “right muscle” to go after more employee-heavy housing-focused projects, Hodgetts explained, an interest the firm has always wanted to explore but has so far been unable to fully undertake until now. With local and state governments, especially in California, stepping up their efforts to rein in housing costs through new construction, housing of all types is set undergo drastic expansion on the West Coast in coming years. In exchange, Mithun will gain access to diverse culturally-driven clients, a realm the growing, design-focused firm has been hungry to enter itself.

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Bayfront to Bayback

Perkins Eastman tapped for 100-acre mega development in Jersey City
Development in New Jersey doesn’t look like it will be slowing down any time soon, and Jersey City seems to be next in line to receive a massive, ground-up neighborhood. As first reported by Jersey Digs, New York's Perkins Eastman has been selected by the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA) to design a residential community on a vacant, 100-acre waterfront plot. Plans for the new Bayfront community have been kicking around for at least three years, as private developer Honeywell International, Inc. and the city government hashed out their vision for the development. The remediation for chromium contamination, a relic of the plot’s industrial past, has slowed the progress on the site—leading to a $170 million buyout of Honeywell by the city government in October 2018. Jersey City has partnered with the JCRA and will act as a “master developer,” according to Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop. After infrastructure is lain at the site by the city, development rights will then be parceled off and sold. According to a November 28, 2018, JRCA resolution that announced Perkins Eastman’s selection, the development plan will be split into two phases. Following a site tour and scope analysis, Perkins Eastman will be responsible for creating a set of design and development principles that fit within the master plan proposed by Anton Nelessen Associates. The First Phase Conceptual Plan will allow the city to create a comprehensive request for proposals (RFP) for prospective private developers. Design guidelines, renderings, “conceptual design for the public realm,” and a site plan will all be included. The second phase will be focused on refining the conceptual plan using feedback from the community and developers and will “get the word out” about plans for the site. According to the JRCA resolution, the city expects to issue developer RFPs in the first quarter of 2019. Once fully built out, Bayside could hold as many as 8,000 residential units. Perkins Eastman’s selection hasn’t been without hiccups; Councilman Rolando Lavarro, who sits on the JCRA advisory board, slammed Mayor Fulop in a Facebook post for the no-bid decision. Perkins Eastman will receive $218,000 for its Bayside work.
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From HUD to the Whitehouse?

Former HUD secretary Julián Castro announces 2020 presidential bid
As the candidate field for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president grows more crowded by the day, former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro announced over the weekend—in both English and Spanish—that he is embarking on a presidential bid of his own. The 44-year-old San Antonio, Texas, native served as HUD Secretary for over two years under President Barack Obama and was briefly considered as a vice presidential pick for 2016 Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton. Prior to his tenure in the Obama administration, Castro served as the mayor of San Antonio for five years. During his time as HUD Secretary, Castro worked to create the National Disaster Resilience Competition, a federal program supported by the Rockefeller Foundation that awarded $1 billion for resilient housing and infrastructure projects to states and communities that were impacted by major disasters between 2011 and 2013. That sum was in addition to over $18 billion in conventional government funding awarded to disaster-stricken communities during the Obama administration. Castro also led the expansion of lead safety protections in federally assisted housing and helped to institute the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule to "finally fulfill the full obligation of the Fair Housing Act,” according to a 2017 memo. Castro also continued initiatives started under his predecessor that contributed to a dramatic decrease in the number of American veterans experiencing homelessness. While mayor of San Antonio, Castro successfully inaugurated a plan to bring “high-quality, full-day pre-k” to the city’s residents. In announcing his presidential bid over the weekend, Castro, citing a “crisis of leadership” under President Donald Trump, pledged to refocus American society to become “the smartest, healthiest, fairest, and most prosperous nation on earth.” Castro’s platform includes instituting universal healthcare, reforming the criminal justice system, and expanding access to higher education, among other initiatives. In a nod to his time at HUD while referencing a growing housing affordability crisis around the country, Castro also pledged to “work to make sure every American has a safe, decent, and affordable place to live.” To help achieve this aim, Castro also pledged to “invest in housing that is affordable to the middle class and the poor.” Castro also stated his support for a Green New Deal, a nascent policy initiative in the works from Democratic politicians, like Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, that aims to transition the American economy away from fossil fuels and toward a sustainable and socially-just economic system. Castro pledged that as his first executive order as president, he would recommit the United States to the Paris Agreement, the global initiative aimed at keeping the temperature increase resulting from anthropogenic climate change under two degrees Celsius. With affordable housing and climate change increasingly in the news, expect more presidential hopefuls to highlight their plans for addressing these issues. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who announced her candidacy in late December 2018, for example, has already unveiled an ambitious affordable housing proposal of her own. If elected, Castro, the grandchild of a Mexican immigrant, would become the first president of Mexican descent and the first former HUD secretary elected to the nation’s highest office.
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More Than Meets the Eye

A Tesla struck and “killed” a robot at CES—or did it?
It’s either a documented case of robot-on-robot violence or an elaborate self-perpetuating hoax. At the January 7 opening of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, a Tesla in “self-driving mode” struck a Russian Promobot, and the event was captured on video. Or did it? The story seemed too good to be true, and touched a nerve over fears that autonomous vehicles could be dangerous (see the case of Uber’s Arizonan test car that got into a fatal crash last March). In the video, a Tesla Model S can be seen cruising by a robot standing curbside, at which point the Promobot falls over and its arm falls off. Promobot’s manufacturer, also called Promobot, posted footage of the incident to Twitter, tagged Elon Musk, and “Promobot was killed by a self-driving Tesla car” racked up over a million views. Promobot claims that its robot was damaged beyond repair and that they would be filing a police report. How did the robot manage to “run off” to the far side of the road without anyone noticing? How did Promobot seem to know that the Tesla was in self-driving mode? Why was the scene being filmed in the first place? The company has thus far been unable to provide answers, but tech writers and Twitter users were quick to point out the inconsistencies in Promobot’s story. Tesla’s cars, while equipped with an “Autopilot” mode that assists drivers on highways, lacks a fully-autonomous self-driving mode. When the driver, George Caldera, was asked for a comment by the Daily Mail, he allegedly told the British tabloid that he had shifted to the passenger seat and handed over control to the vehicle. “I switched this Tesla into a self-driving mode and it started to move. And wow! A robot on the track! I thought the flivver would come round, but it bumped straightly into it! I am so sorry, the robot looks cute. And my sincere apologies to the engineers.” Other than the strange quote, a rope can be seen on the far side of the road near the robot, and Promobot appears to fall over slightly before being passed by the car. Robots and self-driving cars have captured the public’s imagination, but confusion over the capabilities of each have at times also served to confuse. For instance, the robots deployed to ward off homeless people in San Francisco and Waymo’s self-driving cars in Arizona, have both elicited visceral responses from the public. The integration of artificial intelligence into the urban fabric has a long and bumpy road ahead.
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Oops

All eight border wall prototypes fail basic penetrability test
As the Trump administration prepares to potentially declare a national emergency to jumpstart construction of a wall along the U.S.’s southern border—as well as possibly using storm aid funds to do so—the viability of the wall itself has come under fire. In a photo obtained by NBC News, one of the steel bollard border wall prototypes in Otay Mesa, California, was easily breached using an off-the-shelf saw. The eight border wall prototypes in Otay Mesa (directly across from Tijuana in Mexico) were assembled in early 2017 after an executive order directed the Department of Homeland Security to design and build a southern border wall. Four concrete wall segment mockups, and four from mixed materials, were assembled in the desert. The 30-foot-tall prototypes were graded on their aesthetic qualities in August 2018, but testing in late 2017 has revealed that all eight may be easy to penetrate. On “Pogo Row”, a testing area near the California-Mexico border, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents were instructed to try to breach the eight border wall segments—and eventually broke through all eight. Using saws and other hand tools, teams were able to cause holes “larger than 12-inches in diameter or square,” the DHS standard definition of breaching. According to a redacted version of the CBP report obtained through a freedom of information request from the San Diego-based KPBS, replicas of each prototype’s first ten feet were tested for breaching. One (redacted) technique proved so destructive during the first test that further experimenting was postponed, as officials feared it would destabilize the structural integrity of the other models before they could be thoroughly assessed. No testing on how well the walls were able to resist tunneling appears to have been conducted, despite that being a major design criterion in the Request for Proposal. Additionally, none of the eight designs met the requirements for adaptability across the thousands of miles of the border’s rugged, varied terrain. For its part, the DHS has argued that no wall is impenetrable and that by slowing migrants trying to breach it, Border Patrol agents are given time to respond. DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman told NBC that the prototypes were only meant to inform the final design moving forward. When asked about the photo obtained by NBC yesterday, President Trump responded that, “that’s a wall designed by previous administrations.” While previous administrations have used steel bollards at the border, the prototypes tested were built by the Trump administration.
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Fill It Up

Mayor de Blasio backs tax on vacant New York City storefronts
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday his support for a tax on vacant storefronts. The measure would be a response to the unusually high storefront vacancy rates across Manhattan. The New York Post reported that in an appearance on WNYC and at a subsequent press conference the mayor called vacant storefronts "a blight on neighborhoods." The mayor and proponents of such a tax argue that landlords are choosing to let storefronts sit empty for months and sometimes years at a time rather than rent the spaces to tenants at a lower rate. The Post has previously reported that many landlords would rather hold out and wait for a high-end tenant rather than lock in a cheaper tenant on a long-term lease. The result is that thriving parts of the city like Soho and the Upper West Side have storefront vacancy rates of 20 percent or more, well over the standard 5 percent. Proponents of the tax argue that landlords of vacant storefronts are hurting small local businesses that can't afford the extremely high rates that owners are demanding. After a first term with its fair share of ups and downs, de Blasio was reelected in 2017 with the promise to continue pushing for a progressive vision for the city. Many have criticized the mayor for spending too little time focused on city issues and spending too much time trying to raise a national profile with visits to Iowa and other trips. His turbulent and often unproductive relationship with New York State governor Andrew Cuomo, an ostensible ally in the Democratic party who is also competing for national attention, has not helped his standing in the eyes of New Yorkers eager for substantive improvements on local issues like city housing and transit. De Blasio's recent State of the City address announced progressive initiatives on many of those issues wrapped up in a campaign to make the city the #FairestBigCity in the country. While it remains to be seen whether or not de Blasio will join the 2020 presidential race, such moves may help burnish his reputation as a progressive government executive.
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Design by Community

Take a sneak peek at NYCxDESIGN’s 2019 events
NYCxDESIGN 2019 is right around the corner, and AN has a selection of highlights from what design-savvy visitors and NYC residents alike can expect. At a press conference held at the Parsons School of Design, officials from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) laid out a selection of events from the fair, which will run from May 10 through May 22, 2019. The Diner, a collaboration between David Rockwell, Surface Magazine, and the design consultancy 2x4 will return after a successful debut at the 2017 Salone Del Mobile in Milan. The pop-up restaurant will bring a “coast-to-coast journey” to diners, offering a mélange of American food and eatery aesthetics. DESIGN PAVILION will return to Times Square for the duration of NYCxDESIGN, bringing performance spaces, interactive kiosks, seating, an information kiosk, and a collaboration with Nasdaq. Sound & Vision, a two-week long show from the American Design Club on the confluence of sound, technology, and design will use the area as staging. New outdoor furniture from the Times Square Design Lab will also be making an appearance, as will a competition for public-space furniture. ICFF will once again take over the Javits Center from May 19 through the 22. This year’s showcase of high-end interior design will focus heavily on integrated smart home and office technology via ICFF Connect. Over 900 global exhibitors are expected to present their wares at the 2019 show. WantedDesign will return to Brooklyn’s Industry City in Sunset Park with more participants than ever; graduate students from over 30 international schools are expected to present their work. At WantedDesign Manhattan, SVA’s Products of Design MFA students will present Tools for the Apocalypse, a showcase of products designed for life after a climate change-induced apocalypse. Each contribution is grouped thematically into one of four categories (fire, water, earth, and air) and addresses the evolution of essential materials in a time of dramatic ecological uncertainty. While the details have yet to be finalized for the city’s five design districts, expect a collection of architectural walking tours, happy hours, and installations across New York's various Design Districts (Downtown, Madison Avenue, TriBeCa, SoHo Design District, and NoMad). Museums across the city are also participating. At the Cooper Hewitt, Nature will gather work from designers across all disciplines to paint a picture of a more harmonious, regenerative future. At the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), The Value of Good Design gathers design objects from every corner (from home goods to toys to transport-related items) from the late 1930s through the '50s. Through the Good Design initiative that MoMA championed during that period, design was made more democratic and accessible throughout society, and this exhibition will track that shift. At the Museum at FIT, the School of Art and Design will host the 2019 Graduating Student show, not only at the museum but with pieces across the campus. Work from over 800 BFA students will be exhibited and represent areas ranging from jewelry to packaging to interior design. The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) will spice things up with Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics, 1976-1986. The show will look back on the often DIY flyers, posters, and albums from the era through a contemporary lens, similar to the Met’s 2013 examination of the lasting impact of punk fashion. On the architecture side, Fernando Mastrangelo Studio (no stranger to experimenting with concrete) will be casting a full-scale tiny home from cement, glass, sand, and silica. The “home” will contain a living room, bedroom, and exterior garden, and visitors can explore the house after its completion. Following a kick-off party at the studio’s space in Brooklyn, the house will be placed on a trailer and moved around the city for a “Where’s Waldo” experience. Empire Outlets, the SHoP-designed outlet mall in St. George, Staten Island, opens in April. During NYCxDesign, architects from SHoP and representatives from Empire Outlets will lead tours of the sprawling shopping complex. The first El-Space, a repurposing of the area under the Gowanus Expressway in Sunset Park, was such a success that the Design Trust for Public Space and NYC Department of Transportation have followed up with El-Space 2.0. On May 16, a jointly-held event will reveal the project’s next iteration in Long Island City as well as the framework for planning future “El-Spaces.” The Center for Architecture is also planning to get in on the action, and from May 14 through 18, interested architecture buffs can take a sneak peek of this year’s Archtober lineup. Both the “Building of the Day” tours, which will highlight five buildings across the city’s five boroughs, and Workplace Wednesday, where architecture studios open their doors to the public, will be previewed. Of course, NYCxDESIGN, now in its seventh year, hosted nearly 400 events; too many to chronicle in one article. For now, those interested in staying abreast of the talks, workshops, gallery shows, retail options, and more can stay updated on the festival’s website.
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#FairestBigCity

Mayor Bill de Blasio announces plan to protect New York City tenants
Tenants' rights are top of mind in New York City right now in a big way. As affordable housing stock increases throughout the five boroughs, it seems as though the city government is taking a lead on ensuring the safety and financial wellbeing of local residents. Today in his sixth annual State of the City address, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order to establish the new Office of Tenant Protection, a group that would act as a liaison between different housing and building agencies in the city. It will launch at the end of this year and receive an operating budget of $450,000, according to The Real Deal Once up and running, the office will review city data and tenant complaints in order to determine which landlords need more oversight. In some cases, the city will be able to assume control of buildings entirely.  “When a landlord tries to push out a tenant by making their home unlivable, a team of inspectors and law enforcement will be on the ground to stop it in time,” said de Blasio in his address. “If fines and penalties don’t cut it, we will seize buildings and put them into the hands of a nonprofit that will treat tenants with the respect they deserve.” The plan is part of a set of initiatives the mayor is touting to make New York the #FairestBigCity in the nation. In recent years, the city has set up similar offices dedicated to helping tenants, such as the Office of Tenant Advocate, which came online in mid-2017 and is operated through the Department of Buildings. As New Yorkers experience serious disturbances or harassment from construction, they can call upon the OTA for assistance. The city's Department of Housing Preservation and Department now provides equal help through the new Tenant Anti-Harassment Unit. In addition to these new direct-help government groups, de Blasio announced in December a multi-billion plan to fix and preserve the struggling New York City Housing Authority, an agency that had a particularly bad year providing quality affordable housing for its low-income residents.  Other steps outside the mayor’s office are being taken to crack down on private and public tenant protection. In November, the New York City Council began reviewing 18 big bills to halt abusive practices made by local landlords regarding bad buyouts, false documentation, and incorrect permit filing. Learn more about the individual bills here.
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Get SANDOWn

NYCxDESIGN hands the 2020 reins to SANDOW, privatizes operations
Although NYCxDESIGN 2019 begins in May, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) is already looking ahead to the future. The scope of the 12-day design festival continues to grow, and as a result, the EDC has announced the selection of an outside operator. SANDOW, the parent company of Interior Design, Material Bank, and other resources for designers, will take over for the EDC as the celebration’s operator in 2020. NYCxDESIGN, now in its seventh year, attracted more than 330,000 visitors across 400 events last year and generated over $109 million in sales. The EDC claims that in order to keep growing the festival, it needed to pass off the operations management aspect. The department issued a public Request for Expressions of Interest in the summer of 2018, and ultimately selected SANDOW, in part because of the company’s vast media reach. It’s expected that SANDOW will be able to use its media portfolio to both thoroughly advertise the event as well as expand the types of programming available in New York. At a press conference this morning at the Parsons School of Design, Adam Sandow, CEO and founder of the eponymous company, took the stage to laud the decision and affirm his company’s commitment to strengthening the ties that the EDC had worked hard to make. SANDOW has been involved with the festival before; Interior Design has been an NYCxDESIGN Awards partner since 2016, and Luxe Interiors + Design has partnered with high-end interior showcase ICFF since 2015. Of course, the decision to hand a city-run festival over to a private corporation has raised questions about what the 2020 iteration will look like. The festival’s programming is led by a steering committee of New York–based designers, educators, institutions, and officials from the city, so the agenda and key NYCxDESIGN events are unlikely to change. The EDC is currently educating SANDOW on the day-to-day logistics of running the event to ensure a smooth transition, but until planning for NYCxDESIGN 2020 begins, it remains to be seen what the itinerary will look like.
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Sterling Bay Does the Hard Yards

Lincoln Yards cuts plans for soccer stadium and large entertainment venue
Chicago’s unbuilt Lincoln Yards mega-development will no longer include a soccer stadium and entertainment district. Under pressure from constituents, Alderman Brian Hopkins of Chicago’s 2nd Ward has rejected developer Sterling Bay’s proposal to include a 20,000 seat United Soccer League stadium, as well as a series of large Live Nation–run entertainment venues. Live Nation will divest itself from the development, as will the United Soccer League and Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, who is the majority owner of a Chicago franchise. Alderman Hopkins has called for Sterling Bay to retool the project to bring more open space to the development in place of the stadium and venues, and bring a variety of smaller, scattered venues through the site, as well as restaurants and theaters. The public has yet to hear this proposal, despite Lincoln Yards' presence on the January 24 Chicago Planning Commission meeting agenda and confirmation from Mayor Rahm Emanuel that the project will "move forward on a balanced path," Crain's Chicago Business reported. Expected to cost upwards of $6 million dollars, Lincoln Yards will transform nearly 55 acres of former industrial land along the Chicago River into a dense cluster of retail, office, and residential development, delivering a planned 5,000 residential units, 500 hotel rooms, a mile of new riverwalk, and an extension to the 606. Designed by SOM, the project is slated to include multiple skyscrapers reaching a height of up to 650 feet, making the overall height of the development as tall as some structures in the Loop. This isn’t the first time Sterling Bay has had to trim its plans for Lincoln Yards; community input dictated a decrease in the maximum height of the high-rise towers and an increase in publicly-accessible open space in response to a community meeting in November. The move to ax Live Nation from the plan had advocates of The Hideout feeling cautiously optimistic as the Live Nation–run spaces could have threatened the independent venue and provided competition, despite Sterling Bay's commitment to keeping The Hideout a component of the Lincoln Yards plan. While Sterling Bay has agreed to provide opportunities for independent music operators to participate, concerns remain. The City of Chicago introduced the Cortland/Chicago River Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district in November, which encompasses the entirety of the Lincoln Yards site. As Sterling Bay would be the primary property owner, it would be allowed to pay for the project and its future improvements through TIF funds, raising questions of the appropriateness of the new district, as TIF is intended to revive struggling neighborhoods. Members of the City Council Progressive Caucus have been advocating for a measure that would allow the city to provide TIF funds only to projects that cannot be completed without them. Sterling Bay has also yet to address how many of the residential units will be considered affordable, or the demand the project will place on new schools. While some concerns regarding infrastructure and transportation have been addressed, area residents remain concerned about traffic and congestion, as well as the availability and equitability of public transportation.