CHICAGO — A sweepingly ambitious plan to transform the long-vacant U.S. Steel South Works into a miniature city-within-a-city on Lake Michigan is over after more than a decade of planning.

U.S. Steel had been a partner with the developer McCaffrey Interests on a $4 billion dollar project that would have included more than 13,000 homes, 17.5 million square feet of retail, 125 acres of parks, a marina and a high school. But the beleaguered steelmaker just lost $1.5 billion last year and is cash-strapped to the point where some analysts have questioned its future viability.

U.S. Steel, which owns the land, confirmed the project will not move forward but offered no specifics on its demise or what's next.

"We do not comment on specific business relationships," U.S. Steel spokeswoman Sarah Cassella said when asked about the project. "We are working with affected stakeholders to develop an appropriate path forward for the South Works property."

Crain's Chicago Business first reported the demise of the plan to create "an exciting lakeside community" on a 600-acre site near the mouth of the Calumet River that would be roughly 57 blocks if developed. The developer hired Sasaki Associates, Inc. and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP, which designed the Willis Tower and the Trump International Hotel and Tower, to create a master plan for "Chicago's first smart-connected city, with next-generation energy, water, waste and IT infrastructure models."

Keep reading for FREE!
Enjoy more articles by signing up or logging in. No credit card required.

McCaffrey Interests did not immediately return a request for comment.

The vast property on Chicago's South site has sat vacant since 1992, when South Works closed after more than a century of steelmaking.

More than 20,000 people once worked at the mill, which Forgotten Chicago describes as "probably the largest vacant parcel of land in the city." The redevelopment project was slated to have started at least four years ago.

Chicago expanded Lakeshore Drive in anticipation of the redevelopment and built the 16.5-acre Steelworkers Park at the site, where's there's a sculpture of a steelworker with a hardhat and a lunch pail.


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.