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Developer envisions transit hub, entertainment, high-rises near Soldier Field

A Wisconsin developer has unveiled conceptual plans for a massive South Loop mixed-use project anchored by a transit center and entertainment complex across from Soldier Field, a development that could reshape the neighborhood and its connection with the Museum Campus and lakefront.

Landmark Development envisions several towers rising from a deck it would build over Metra Electric rail tracks running from McCormick Place to McFetridge Drive. Developed over 20 years, the project, called One Central, could include residential units, offices, stores, hotel rooms, restaurants and entertainment venues, said Robert Dunn, president of Madison, Wis.-based Landmark.

“I really believe this is one of the most unique and most important development opportunities not just here in Chicago but nationally,” Dunn said.

Encompassing 34 acres, enough to accommodate thousands of homes and millions of square feet of space, One Central would certainly be big, joining a list of planned megaprojects in Chicago, including Burnham Lakefront, a 100-acre development proposed just south of McCormick Place.

It also has the potential to transform the South Loop. By building over the train tracks and constructing a wide, landscaped bridge that would span South Lake Shore Drive, Landmark could overcome a barrier that has separated the Central Station neighborhood from the Museum Campus and lakefront.

Not only would the bridge provide South Loop residents with better access to lakefront parks, it would link Soldier Field to the development. That could open up possibilities for the creation of a restaurant and entertainment district just west of the stadium, not unlike what the Chicago Cubs have orchestrated around Wrigley Field. An entertainment district also could draw visitors in town for trade shows at McCormick Place.

Sports facilities are a specialty for Dunn, who has worked on the construction or redevelopment of the home stadiums of the Chicago Bears’

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