North Branch Framework Plan, Design Guidelines and Implementation

UPDATED June 25, 2019

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 the City'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. Its implementation is ongoing.

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

In July 2017, City Council approved an ordinance that acts as the initial step 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. These policies include:

Framework Plan and Design Guidelines Cover

Download the framework plan

Download the framework checklist

  • 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 was changed mostly to Manufacturing (M) and the southern portion was changed mostly to Downtown Service (DS). The new designations enable a dynamic mix of uses that were previously prohibited by Planned Manufacturing District (PMD) zoning, which remain in the central portion of the corridor.
  • Create an Industrial Corridor System Fund that supports industrial projects throughout the city. The fund will 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 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.

The North Branch Framework was drafted during an unprecedented year-long public engagement effort, and its implementation efforts continued in 2018 with the proposed Cortland/Chicago River TIF District, an important funding mechanism to the public infrastructure projects identified by the framework plan. The chart below details the entire process.

Date Materials Community Input
June 2019  
December 2018  
November 2018  
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