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Related Midwest Announces Start of Construction on Wells-Wentworth Connector at The 78 in Chicago

September 20, 2019

Related Midwest today announced that work on the Wells-Wentworth Connector, the long-anticipated street that will link downtown and Chinatown, has begun at The 78, the developer’s vibrant, mixed-use community bordered by Roosevelt Road, Clark Street, 15th Street and the Chicago River. The Wells-Wentworth Connector, part of the first phase of development at The 78, will ease traffic from the Loop to Chinatown by providing an additional thoroughfare for drivers and safe, modern pathways for pedestrians and bikers.

“The Wells-Wentworth Connector is an important step in the development of The 78,” said Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest. “Because The 78 will sit on 62 acres of land that has been undeveloped for 90 years, this road will directly connect the Loop to many neighborhoods, including Chinatown, for the first time. The Connector will be a safe, beautiful streetscape to travel on, whether by car, bike or foot, and we’re excited about the positive economic impact it will have on the surrounding communities.”

Throughout a two-year collaboration, Related Midwest and the Chicago Department of Transportation created a design that sets a new precedent for urban streetscapes. The plans prioritize safety while considering the various modes of transit preferred by city dwellers. A double parkway integrates raised, separated bike lanes into a tree-lined path that helps ensure the safety of bikers by keeping them separate from automobile and pedestrian traffic. Street lighting—along with additional lighting for pedestrians—will create an aesthetically pleasing, multi-tiered space that illuminates the entire sidewalk, bikeway and landscape. In addition, speed tables will ensure traffic moves safely, improve the walkability of the surrounding neighborhood and improve access to Ping Tom Memorial Park. Site Design Group, the award-winning urban design firm led by Ernie Wong, who created Riverwalk East, Pilsen Mural Park and Ping Tom Park, is the landscape architect for the Wells Wentworth-Connector.

The 78 will include green and open space that features a fully activated, 5-acre riverfront and a 7-acre public park; public art; residential, retail and restaurant offerings; office space to attract flagship companies; and cultural institutions. The Wells-Wentworth Connector is one of several major infrastructure improvements in and around The 78, including a new CTA Red Line station, relocation of the existing Metra tracks and reconstruction of the Chicago River seawall.

“While The 78 will bring economic benefits to all of Chicago, we expect it has the power to transform Chinatown in significant ways,” said Emma Yu, executive director of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. “Chinatown is home to many small and family-owned businesses and the Wells-Wentworth Connector will open up those companies to access from visitors from other neighborhoods and bring additional business growth to our community.”

In addition to infrastructure improvements, The 78 will provide opportunities for more than 15,000 trade, construction and professional services jobs and 24,000 new, permanent jobs. It will also create economic opportunities that directly benefit residents of the city’s South and West sides. To help guide its efforts to create sustainable careers through development of The 78, Related Midwest has formed the Community Inclusion Council (CIC), a trusted group of civic, business and community partners who will focus on diversity and inclusion in hiring and contracting at The 78.

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About Related Midwest:

Related Midwest, the Chicago office of Related Companies, is the preeminent developer of mixed-use properties, affordable housing communities, and luxury condominium and rental homes across Chicago. For more than 30 years, Related Midwest has been dedicated to the highest standards of architecture, design, engineering and development. Related Midwest developments in Chicago include the Robert A.M. Stern Architects-designed One Bennett Park, a 70-story luxury residential tower and adjacent park by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates; luxury condominiums and rental apartments including 500 N. Lake Shore Drive and OneEleven; Landmark West Loop, a 300-unit tower; and mixed-use and affordable housing communities including Marshall Field Garden Apartments and the historic Julia C. Lathrop Homes. Related Midwest has developed, acquired and preserved more than 10,000 affordable residences in the Midwest. Over the past 10 years, Related Midwest and its affiliated entities have awarded more than a quarter of a billion dollars to minority- and women-owned businesses and hired nearly 500 community residents. The company has also helped 15 small businesses launch and grow by awarding them their first contracts.