CHICAGO — McCaffery Interests Inc. has kicked off the marketing of Chicago Lakeside Development LLC, a joint venture of McCaffery and United States Steel Corp., by opening a 2,000-square-foot marketing center on the site of the development. Chicago Lakeside is an ambitious plan for a mixed-use property at the former U.S. Steel South Works on the South Side of Chicago, on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Phase one of the development might begin as early as 2012, according to McCaffery Interests. In the fullness of time — about 30 years if the plan’s timetable is accurate — Chicago Lakeside will include more than 13,500 residential properties, some of them multifamily, along with 17.5 million square feet of commercial space, including retail, built out in perhaps as many as six phases. The 600-acre site also will include a new high school and a marina.

For the time being, the marketing center is the only remaining structure on the site. Dating from 1917, the structure was once part of U.S. Steel’s sprawling steel-making facility, but now has been redeveloped to include an exhibit featuring scale models, an historic timeline describing U.S. Steel’s history on the site, and display panels highlighting key features of the development. There’s also a 33-foot floor mat replicating the shore of Lake Michigan from the Chicago Lakeside development north to Evanston, Ill.

Outside, a three-story, 30-foot platform offers visitors a view of the Chicago skyline, as well as the development site and attendant lake shore. The views of the lake and the city are a critical selling point for the area.

But why open the center now, when demand for any kind of real estate is so sluggish? Although the market is down, it isn’t a bad time for McCafery Interests to market, Dan McCaffery, president and CEO of McCaffery Interests, tells MHN. The site will require a minimum of two years to prepare, and even at that point, McCaffery Interests plans to be “selling” to those who will construct and market product.

That is, McCaffery will be selling to homebuilders. By the time the site is prepared, McCaffery Interests believes the market will have seen improvement.