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Emanuel floats new rules for growing number of riverfront developments

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago River (Credit: Getty Images and Pixabay)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing a set of new rules for projects along the Chicago River, as the once-ignored waterway has transformed into the focal point for major development in the city.

The Chicago Plan Commission on Thursday will consider the new guidelines, which include requiring all riverfront projects to have biking and walking paths and for developers to include ecological restoration in their plans, according to Crain’s.

In addition, the outgoing mayor on Wednesday is set to create a new public body to spearhead open space initiatives along the river.

The new rules would affect The 78 and Lincoln Yards megaprojects along the North and South branches of the river, though both Related Midwest and Sterling Bay already have said they plan to make public space along the river a key element of their developments.

Treated as little more than an open sewer for much of the city’s history, the river suddenly has become the focus of developers thanks to the city’s relaxing of industrial zoning rules along the waterway and the success of the downtown riverwalk, among other factors.

In addition to The 78 and Lincoln Yards, key riverfront projects in various stages of development include CMK Properties’ Riverline and Lendlease’s Southbank on the South Branch, and Tribune Media’s Chicago River District on the North Branch. [Crain’s] — John O’Brien

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