Recent photos show construction is progressing rapidly at the multi-stage Wells-Wentworth Connector, located within The 78, a mega development by Related Midwest.
To kick off the $7 billion masterplan in Near South Side, Related Midwest has extended The Loop’s Wells Street south to form the spine of the new 78 development. At the southern end of the development, Wells Street will bend to connect to S Wentworth Avenue, which then extends south into Chinatown. Known collectively as the Wells-Wentworth Connector, this phased infrastructure project will not only enhance the experience of The 78 itself, but also provide quicker navigation between Chinatown and The Loop.
Cited in 2019 article by Streets Blog Chicago, a spokesperson for Related Midwest mentioned that the new street section will heavily tailored to cyclists and pedestrians. Plans for the new stretch incorporate a wide and raised two-way bikeway, enhanced lighting for all sections of the corridor, and extensive landscaping with 140 trees of 10 different species. The road portion itself will be two lanes wide allowing for the increased foot traffic.
Other access points for the 62-acre plot of land includes a series of bus routes lining the perimeter. East and westbound buses 12, 18, 62 make stops along Roosevelt on the northern edge, while the north and southbound bus 24 stops along Clark along the eastern edge. It is worth noting these routes may change once vehicle access opens in within the development bounds.
The nearest CTA L access on The 78’s northern side is Roosevelt station, which is serviced by the Green, Orange, and Red Lines, and is located a one-minute walk east from the northeast corner.
Meanwhile to the south, the nearest L station to the southern edge is Cermak-Chinatown, which is serviced by the Red Line and located a nine-minute walk south. TheRealDeal reported last year that a new Red Line station will be added within the development grounds, near its southeast corner.
Site Design Group is the landscape architecture firm responsible for the Wentworth Connector’s design, while Skidmore, Owings and Merrill is responsible for The 78 masterplan.
Currently, Related Midwest is preparing to break ground early next year on the first phase of the project, known as The 78 North. According to their marketing website, this first portion will include 5.3 million square feet of mixed-use building space, a seven-acre park, a large plaza, and additional outdoor space. Furthest south for this phase will be UIC’s new Discovery Partners Institute, a 500,000-square-foot research and technology-oriented building.
As for the scale, the tallest building in this first phase will be the east tower of the planned Gateway Towers. This taller, 50-story building will reach 755 feet, while the shorter, 35-story sibling will rise 525 feet. These two connected structures will feature curving undulations and setbacks, as well as an expansive bridge closer to the base.
While the scale of this first phase is incredibly extensive, the full project will contain 13 million square feet of usable building space and is currently zoned to have additional towers climbing up to 950 feet. The collective work on the first phase, including the infrastructure, is expected to complete in 2024, while the full development is expected to wrap up between 2030 and 2040.