Facing Plan Commission, Ald. Hopkins tweets defense of Lincoln Yards rush

Just before the Chicago Plan Commission considers approval of the proposed Lincoln Yards complex, Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) has used Twitter to respond to residents' and journalists' perceived fast-tracking of city approval by Hopkins.

Lincoln Yards' 50-plus acres would straddle the Chicago River's North Branch, north and south of Cortland Ave. According to developer Sterling Bay, the complex will house at least 6,000 residential units, and will include a "minimum 50 percent" level of commercial use.

The city proposes to use tax-increment financing to fund up to $800 million in public infrastructure—such as streets, bridges, water pipes, sewers, and transit—to support the creation of Lincoln Yards.

In the days before the Plan Commission's Jan. 23 hearing, Hopkins had the following exchanges on Twitter with Lincoln Yards critics.

1/20/19, Friends of the Parks (@FOTPChicago, fotp.org):

New plans came out yesterday, and Aldert Hopkins says he supports it. He says he's going to have individual meetings with neighborhood groups rather than another public meeting. In the next 3 days? We are not impressed.

Alderman Brian Hopkins (@AldermanHopkins):

Since the initial plan was unveiled at a community meeting (July 2018) Friends of the Parks has done two things: 1. Complain about the process 2. Demand a large, contiguous park in Lincoln Yards. So, the new plan has an 11 acre park, but they say nothing about that. just more #1

1/21/19, Micheline Pergande, ‏U of C Polsky Center (@msabatte, polsky.uchicago.edu):

Are you willing to postpone @LincolnYards from this week’s commission meeting until next month so you can allow the public an opportunity to ask questions of @sterlingbay regarding their revised plans? Releasing plans over a holiday wknd doesn’t allow ample time to weigh in

Ald. Hopkins:

The first draft of this plan was presented in July 2018. Please submit your questions now, there’s still time for answers. I would remind you that your organization declined previous invitations to meet with Sterling Bay, while every other group accepted (some more than once).

Micheline Pergande:

In all of your community input efforts, did you once ask the public if they support towering skyscrapers in their neighborhood (w/o the infrastructure to support that kind of density?) A park in the shadows of @lincolnyards skyscrapers is not a community victory!

Ald. Hopkins:

of course I asked that question. The height of the taller buildings is a continuing point of discussion, with a variety of opinions expressed. But either way, the infrastructure to support this new density is planned and WILL be built. That is mandatory.

1/22/19, Raise Your Hand Action (@RYHAction, raiseyourhandaction.org):

. . . residents across Chi won't get this revenue for 23 years and taxes hiked [due to tax-increment financing].

Ald. Hopkins:

your divisive and intentionally provocative rhetoric directed at the affluent community I represent is NOT surprising, because that’s how you roll.

1/23/19, RANCH Triangle Neighborhood Association (@RANCH_Triangle, ranchtriangle.org):

I'm sorry but Alderman Hopkins refusal to meet with Ranch and Sterling Bay is unbelievable. He's meeting with Sheffield [Neighborhood Association] but he tells us that there's no point. When did he get the authority to shun a neighborhood association?

Ald. Hopkins:

RANCH was the only neighborhood group to refuse repeated invitations to meet with the developer, for purposes of presenting questions and offering suggestions and comments. (in other words, representing its members). RANCH then proudly announced its refusal to participate.

1/23/19, Jen Sabella, Director of Strategy, Block Club Chicago (@BlockClubCHI, blockclubchicago.org):

@AldermanHopkins hasn't responded to @BlockClubCHI's calls for more than a week. If we as journalists can't get basic questions answered, I'd imagine neighbors are pretty annoyed.

Ald. Hopkins:

since the revised master plan was issued, I’ve met with 3 community groups, emailed 2 detailed statements to 20,000 subscribers, appeared on ChiTonight, published an OpEd in the Tribune, held an open house in my office, and joined a panel discussion on LY with nearby aldermen.

thanks for re-posting the story about the design charette I co-hosted in 2016. Its express purpose was to invite community ideas for the redevelopment of the site now known as Lincoln Yards. Some of the ideas that emerged from that public meeting are in the Master Plan today.

Jen Sabella:

It’s disingenuous to say there have been public meetings on the Sterling Bay plan for 3 years when in reality their master plan was released five DAYS ago. Neighbors aren’t urban planners, it’s hard to have an opinion without seeing a completed proposal and working from there.

Let’s just not make neighbors feel like they failed to get involved when in reality they never got a SINGLE chance to meet and discuss the plan that is going before the [Plan Commission] and radically transforming the city.

1/23/19, Ted Cox, Editor, One Illinois (@tedcoxchicago, oneillinois.com):

It doesn't matter how many meetings you hold if you don't listen to the community. Go ahead and add up the hours you spent ignoring public demands. Also, I covered many who feel the North Branch Industrial Corridor plan was built to suit what developers hoped for, not vice versa.

Ald. Hopkins:

I’ve publicly acknowledged that specific criticism of the North Branch Framework on several occasions, and process left most participants unsatisfied. But separately, the LY community process had a direct and significant impact on the Master Plan now before Plan Commission