Chicago's Community Development Commission (CDC) unanimously approved a controversial plan Tuesday to provide a $15.8 million tax increment financing (TIF) subsidy for an upscale apartment complex in Uptown, despite opposition from some local low-income housing advocates.
The $125 million luxury housing development, proposed for the former Columbus Maryville Academy site near the city's lakefront, still needs Chicago City Council approval.
A group of about 30 community activists spoke against the proposal outside of City Hall's council chambers before attending the CDC meeting. The protesters toted signs reading, "No Public Funds For Private Profit." They saw support from Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey and TIF activist Tom Tresser.
"I stand with my Uptown neighbors ... to demand that Mayor Emanuel's rubber stamp not be used one more time by the Community Development Commission to rob the taxpayers of Chicago and send millions of public dollars into private pockets," Tresser, with the TIF Illumination Project, said during public comment at the CDC meeting.
South Side residents were shocked to learn that the five tax increment
financing (TIF) districts located in the 19th Ward sucked up $4.2
million, or about 11 percent, of their property tax dollars in 2011, according to data from the CivicLab.
Three of the TIF
districts located 100 percent within the ward, which includes
the Beverly, Mount Greenwood and Morgan Park neighborhoods, raked in a
total of $24.9 million since their inception through the end of 2011.
The three districts were created in 1994, 2001, and 2007.
The news was especially troubling to the approximately 30 residents who attended the CivicLab's 19th Ward TIF Illumination Project meeting
Tuesday night, seeing as though a portion of that money would have otherwise
gone to the public school district and other government units were it not for the city’s controversial economic development program.
The city’s tax increment financing, or TIF, program is an economic
development tool, but it should really be called a Chicago bailout for
private companies, some Uptown residents said at a town hall meeting Thursday night as part of the CivicLab’s TIF Illumination Project.
don’t we call (TIF) Chicago welfare,” 46th Ward resident Ryne Poelker
asked at the meeting held at the Peoples Church of Chicago. “Why don’t
they call it a bailout?”
Property taxpayers in the 46th Ward paid
out about $87.6 million for TIF projects in the area since the inception
of the program under former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington through
2010, according to the CivicLab’s data analysis.
than half of that money went to private developers for projects such as
the Wilson Yard, a retail space at 4400 N. Broadway Ave., that houses a
Target, Aldi grocery store and low-income housing units. The project
received more than $50 million in TIF funds, according to the CivicLab.
The candidates running for president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners
-- Democrat Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th Ward), Republican Roger Keats,
and the Green Party's Tom Tresser -- debated the future of the county's health care system yesterday