Tag: Lincoln Yards

Paddle the North Branch showcases area destinations

Nearly twenty people joined us in late September for our first-ever kayak tour that featured dynamic businesses and development projects in our service area.

We met at Rockwell on the River (pictured below right), an incredible food and events space in Avondale along the North Branch of the Chicago River.

Well-known as the home of Metropolitan Brewing and Metropolis Coffee, the campus also includes a dock where you can hop in an electric boat or kayak and escape into the natural habitat.

North Branch Works was honored to partner with a small business, Wateriders Kayaks. The owner, Charlie Portis, gave us a quick lesson on how to paddle. The business prides itself in being able to serve people of all ages and abilities.

After departing from Rockwell on the River, the first stop was the dock at Lathrop Homes (pictured above), which is located just north of Diversey Avenue on the Chicago River.

Formerly the largest public housing complex on the North Side, Lathrop has been converted into mixed-income housing by developer Related Midwest.

During our time at Lathrop, a representative from Related Midwest discussed recently built riverfront improvements including a new trail, landscaping, benches, trees, and a boat and kayak launch.

The trail runs for half a mile north and south of Diversey Avenue. If you follow it south of Diversey, it curves out into the river, offering spectacular views of downtown before its terminus at Leavitt Street.

Following this stop, we paddled south to 1229 W Concord Place where developer Sterling Bay will soon break ground on the first building in Lincoln Yards, a structure designed for life sciences companies called ALLY at 1229 W. Concord.

While we floated in the Chicago River, a spokesperson from Sterling Bay (pictured right) talked about plans to improve public infrastructure in the area and a general timeline for the entire project, which is expected to span ten years.

Then we kayaked south past North Avenue to visit the Wild Mile Chicago, a seventeen-acre floating park in the North Branch Canal.

The Wild Mile (pictured below left) will run in-stream from North Avenue to Chicago Avenue directly behind Whole Foods and REI Lincoln Park.

During the tour, a representative from Urban Rivers talked about the next step in the project, which involves installing a walkway, and volunteer opportunities.

For group and corporate volunteering opportunities at the Wild Mile, please contact Nick Wesley at 708-606-0637 or nick@urbanriv.org.

North Branch Works would like to thank everyone who joined us for the kayak tour. We’d also like to recognize our partners who came along and discussed their businesses and development projects.

They include Friends of the Chicago River, Rockwell on the River, Wateriders Kayaks, Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council, Related Midwest, Sterling Bay, and Urban Rivers.

Stay tuned for more opportunities to explore local businesses and destinations in our service area.

Image credits: Kevin Hartmann, Sterling Bay

Paddle the North Branch on Sept. 25th

Join us on Saturday, Sept. 25th for a fun and informative kayak tour of the North Branch from 9-11:30 a.m.

Along the way, we’ll visit local businesses, area destinations, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Chicago River. The length of the tour is approximately seven miles.

At each stop, our partners will talk about their businesses and provide updates about their development projects that will have a major impact on the North Branch area in the coming years.

To sign up for the kayak tour with North Branch Works and Waterider Kayaks, please go here.

After meeting at Rockwell on the River, we’ll hear from Friends of the Chicago River about its important work to improve water quality and the natural habitat.

Then we’ll leave from the docks at Rockwell on the River and visit Lathrop Homes, Lincoln Yards, the Wild Mile Chicago (see below right), and REI Lincoln Park.

Following our stop at REI Lincoln Park, we’ll paddle back to Rockwell on the River where the tour will wrap up.

And everyone is welcome to join us at Metropolitan Brewing (see below left) for drinks after the tour. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required to enter Metropolitan Brewing.

North Branch Works is excited to partner with Wateriders Kayaks, a small family-owned business in our service area on the tour. The owner, Charlie, will serve as our guide.

We hope you can join us for the kayak tour on September 25th.

Proceeds support Wateriders Kayaks and North Branch Works’ neighborhood economic development work.

With questions, please contact Steve Simmons at 773-929-5552 x2226 or steve@northbranchworks.org

Image credits: REI Lincoln Park (top), Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (middle) & Metropolitan Brewing (bottom)

Top ten stories from the North Branch in 2020

As 2020 draws to a close, it’s a great time to pause and reflect on the accomplishments of the year. With that in mind, here is North Branch Works’ top ten list of stories from our service area in 2020.

As you read through them, please take a moment to celebrate these successes, especially if you are a member business and/or partnered with us to make them happen.

1. Our Executive Director Jonathan Snyder was selected to serve on the Lincoln Yards Community Advisory Council (LYCAC). The LYCAC meets regularly with the City of Chicago and Sterling Bay to review project status, including infrastructure design, and ensure community concerns are addressed.

2. North Branch Works helped member businesses in our service area receive $235,000 in COVID-19 relief grants and workforce development funding. We prioritized connecting our member businesses to grant opportunities as soon as they opened and helping them navigate the application process.

3. Despite the pandemic, our Small Accessible Repairs for Seniors (SARFS) program continued upgrading homes so longtime residents can enjoy a high quality of life. We’re on track to complete upgrades in 20 homes this year (pictured below right North Branch Works Field Manager Reggie Hamilton installing a grab bar) and planning to hit the ground running in 2021.

4. Eight new member businesses joined North Branch Works this year. We welcomed Rockwell on the River, mHub Chicago, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago, CharityWatch, SYNLawn of Chicago, the Alley Chicago, ACN Bookkeeping, and Vision One Agency. Please consider tapping into our valuable community network of businesses and nonprofits by joining as a member.

5. To keep the momentum going for infrastructure improvements for businesses on Goose Island, we hosted the second annual Goose Island Summit, bringing together about forty businesses with city leaders, including 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett, Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar, and representatives from CTA, CDOT, and DPD.

6. One of our top priorities is the growth and development of minority-owned businesses in our service area. Toward that end, we built a wonderful partnership with the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council, which has incredible resources for minority entrepreneurs and businesses. Take a look at these features of Chicago MSDC, MBDA Business Center and the MBDA Export Center.

7. In order to support the growing business corridor on Rockwell Street, we convened a Rockwell Street Infrastructure Task Force meeting so we could get an update on an ongoing traffic study from CDOT and give community businesses a voice in potential streetscape improvements coming to this bustling area.

8. Recently, the Logan Square Farmers Market relocated for the winter to Rockwell on the River, a major win for neighborhood economic development. The Farmers Market will be open for business on Sundays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. until March 28, 2021.

9. Vision One Agency produced incredible video features of our business members for our first ever virtual Fall Fundraiser. Please watch these videos that showcase Metropolitan Brewing, Guild Row Chicago, and mHub Chicago.

10. North Branch Works hosted Department of Planning and Development Commissioner Maurice Cox and 33rd Ward Alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez for a tour of businesses on Rockwell Street. The tour included stops at Metropolitan Brewing, Rockwell on the River, and Guild Row Chicago (pictured right, co-founder Mike Healy speaking) as well as a discussion of the urgent need for streetscape improvements in this area.

Stay on top of the latest economic development and neighborhood business news by signing up for our bi-weekly newsletter. And please follow/like us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

Thank you to our members, partners, and supporters for an engaging, informative, and productive year.

Community council advising Sterling Bay & city on Lincoln Yards

North Branch Works (NBW) is honored to have been selected as a community representative for the Lincoln Yards Community Advisory Council (LYCAC), which held its first meeting on June 15.

Lincoln Yards is a 55-acre, mixed-use development project (pictured) along the North Branch of the Chicago River that will run between North and Webster Avenues and across parts of Bucktown and Lincoln Park.

The purpose of LYCAC is to engage with the City of Chicago and Sterling Bay, the developer of Lincoln Yards, on a regular and consistent basis to review project status, including infrastructure design and serve as a community conduit for project concerns. The 14-member council includes four members from the 2nd Ward Zoning Board, three Lincoln Park/Bucktown community members, and subject matter experts in infrastructure, housing, planning, economic development, minority and women business enterprise participation, Tax Increment Financing, open space and the environment.

The meeting enabled council members to meet with each other and become acquainted with the developers and city officials who brought the project forward after approval of the North Branch Framework Plan. After presentations from Sterling Bay and the City of Chicago, members were able to ask questions and talk about their concerns which stimulated a productive dialogue.

Going forward, the council will meet quarterly with city officials and Sterling Bay to advise on various aspects of the project such as transportation, land use, open space, and business recruitment. Throughout the three-year commitment to participate on the council, NBW will advocate for the creation of living-wage job opportunities, especially opportunities that do not require an advanced degree. In order to make job opportunities accessible to all Chicagoans, NBW will push for investments in public transit options that help people get to places of employment safely and easily. These investments are critical to ensure traffic congestion does not increase with new development.

Although Lincoln Yards was approved as a Planned Development and TIF District in 2019, the role of LYCAC will be to advise Sterling Bay and the city on ways it can implement a project that’s mindful of adjacent communities and addresses community concerns. NBW appreciates the responsibility it has to ensure this project strengthens residential communities, supports business opportunities and entrepreneurship, and creates jobs accessible to people throughout Chicago.

Do you have ideas and/or concerns about Lincoln Yards that you’d like advisory council to address? Please contact Jonathan Snyder, Executive Director, at 773-929-5552, jonathan@northbranchworks.org

Image credits: Sterling Bay