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Sterling Bay Pins Slow Lincoln Yards Development, Need To Refinance On Outgoing Lightfoot Administration

Sterling Bay is seeking new financing for its $6B Lincoln Yards megadevelopment after city permitting delays put the project years behind.


Sterling Bay CEO Andy Gloor said in an interview with Bloomberg that the 53-acre life sciences hub needs to be recapitalized due to slow permitting that wreaked havoc with its construction timeline. Gloor said he has refinancing interest from private individuals lined up, but he chided outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who he said “put a brake” on the project.

“She fought the development, which is so puzzling to me because the economic impact in terms of construction jobs, permanent jobs and the ability to compete with some other cities, it’s in the $8[B] to $10B [range] if you add it all up,” Gloor told Bloomberg. 

Sterling Bay broke ground on Lincoln Yards in 2021, anticipating a 10-year construction timeline for the 14M SF development. City delays have pushed that back three years, Gloor said. He contrasted Lightfoot’s performance with her predecessor, Rahm Emanuel: In 2017 and 2018, Chicago averaged 60 cranes in the air, he told Bloomberg, versus only about a dozen throughout the Lightfoot administration.

Sterling Bay hinted at delays with the city at a November Bisnow event, during which Managing Partner Keating Crown called working with the city a sometimes rewarding, sometimes frustrating process.

“At times, we think that things could move a little faster, permits could move a little faster,” he said. “But there are also agendas that we're not privy to and other things going on. At the end of the day, better projects spit out the other end.”

Though real estate stakeholders have been wary about new tax proposals floated by Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson, Gloor said he was heartened by his own discussions with Johnson, who takes office May 15.

“I’m super encouraged that he understands the importance of these large developments for Chicago,” he said.

Lincoln Yards is set to transform a once-industrial slice of the North Side along the Chicago River into a sea of commercial and residential skyscrapers. The development will include as many as 6,000 residential units in addition to millions of square feet of office and lab space.