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North Branch Framework Plan and Design Guidelines

UPDATED July 20, 2017

The North Branch Framework is a land use plan for 760 acres along the Chicago River between Kinzie Street and Fullerton Avenue. It is the first framework developed as a part of Mayor Emanuel’s Industrial Corridor Modernization Initiative, a multi-year effort to review Chicago’s designated industrial corridors.

The plan, adopted by the Chicago Plan Commission in May 2017, includes modern land use parameters that will be used by the Chicago Plan Commission, City Council, and the public to assess future development proposals and land use transitions in the North Branch.

The framework's three main goals are to:

    • Maintain the corridor as an economic engine and vital job center
    • Provide better access for all transportation modes
    • Enhance the area’s unique natural and built environment

On June 28, 2017, an Ordinance was introduced to City Council that would be the initial step to start to implement the North Branch Framework's multi-year goals to accommodate mixed-use business growth within the corridor while generating funds for industrial and commercial development throughout the city. The proposals would:

Framework Plan and Design Guidelines Cover

Download the framework plan

  • Re-zone of the northern and southern portions of the North Branch Corridor to accommodate the opportunity for mixed-use development. The northern portion of the North Branch would be changed to Manufacturing (M) and the southern portion would be changed to Downtown Service (DS). The new designations would enable a dynamic mix of uses that are currently prohibited by existing Planned Manufacturing District (PMD) zoning, which would remain in the central portion of the corridor.
  • Create a new Industrial Corridor System Fund that would support industrial projects throughout the city. The fund would be supported by mandatory developer fees triggered by zoning changes from M or DS to a non-industrial classification.
  • Expand the City’s existing Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus system to the southern portion of the North Branch corridor. The Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus system generates funding for West, Southwest and South side commercial development projects, local infrastructure and designated City landmarks. Funds are created by voluntary payments from development projects with Downtown (D) district zoning in exchange for increased density.
  • Create a North Branch Corridor Bonus system in the northern portion of the North Branch corridor. The proposed North Branch Bonus would enable developers to make voluntary payments in exchange for increased density for new development projects. Revenues would be used to finance transit, open space and other public improvements within the North Branch and other industrial corridors.

You may download the proposed ordinance here.

Below is an overview of the implementation timeline for the actions described above. The City zoning action is the first step of a multi-phase, public/private approach to implement the recommendations of the Framework Plan.

Implementation timeline

Public meetings took place concerning the proposed PMD reforms took place on July 11, 2017 per the requirements of the Chicago Zoning Ordinance. While these meetings were required to focus on proposed changes to PMD 1, 2, 3 and 5 within the affected wards, several questions arose regarding the North Branch Framework Plan and other items included in the Ordinance. Answers to the most frequently asked questions during the meetings are available with the link below.

The PMD reforms were approved by the Chicago Plan Commission at its meeting on July 20, 2017, and refereed to City Council committee for review. A joint Committee on Zoning and Finance to consider these ordinance changes is scheduled for July 24, 2017, and the regularly scheduled City Council meeting is July 26, 2017. The public is welcome to attend and speak at these events.

If approved, the final version of the proposed North Branch Implementation ordinance would regulate the implementation and administration of the reforms described above.

The North Branch Framework was drafted during an unprecedented year-long public engagement effort. The details of that process are posted below.

Please send additional comments and questions to


Date Materials Community Input
July 2017

July 11 FAQ

June 2017


May 2017

Email comments

Letters and comment cards

March and April 2017
February 2017


December 2016


September 2016


August 2016


June 2016



The City also engaged North Branch stakeholders online through a digital mapping tool. Participants could add and view comments associated with specific locations throughout the corridor. View those results at this link.