Planned Fulton Market district to get $42M from city

 Fulton Market Lineup

Fulton Market Lineup

Update on the still-in-proposal-stage plan for making a Fulton Market Historical District…

The city plans to allocate more than $42 million to improve parts of the West Loop included in its proposed Fulton Market Innovation District, a plan being pushed by the mayor as a way to encourage yet corral the neighborhood’s explosive growth.

The investments will kick off with the construction of a $500,000 gateway arching over Fulton Market at Halsted Street to welcome visitors to a proposed historic market district honoring the meatpacking companies and food wholesalers that have been operating there for a century.

The bulk of the $42.6 million allocation of public money, about $16 million of which is still pending approval from the city’s Department of Transportation, would go to infrastructure improvements like street paving and sidewalk repairs along Kinzie, Fulton Market, Randolph and Lake streets. Most of the money will come from the existing tax increment financing district, set up in 1998, though an estimated $10 million proposed for rebuilding Lake Street would be a mix of local, state and federal funds.


Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who spearheaded the innovation district plan, said the driving force for it was the surge in real estate deals that followed the 2012 opening of the $38 million Morgan Street CTA station.

“When we make these investments, they spur a series of private-sector economic development and opportunities for the city and growth,” Emanuel said. “And here, which is unique, you’ve got to do it in a way that strikes a balance between the history, and the preservation of that, while you embrace the change that is occurring simultaneously. And I think we’ve come up with that equitable balance.”

Designating the area an “innovation district,” a growing trend in cities, highlights the mix of traditional manufacturing, tech companies, social scene and transit access that has become important to attracting a young, creative workforce. Some of the employers coming to the area, including Google, SRAM, Uber, Brooklyn Bowl and Soho House, are expected to add 2,385 jobs, according to figures provided by the mayor’s office.

“It is and represents a new direction of the city’s economy,” said Andrew Mooney, commissioner of the city’s Department of Planning and Development. While the city has other emerging “innovation centers,” the restaurant-rich Fulton Market area is unique because of its historic and current connection to food, and the fact that it is not linked to a university.

(click here to continue reading Chicago Tribune – Top Business – Planned Fulton Market district to get $42M from city.)

Nothing Ever Stays The Same
Nothing Ever Stays The Same

Also, first time we’ve heard of this plan:

The city also announced a new public bike station it has planned for the lower level of an 83,000-square-foot former meatpacking building under redevelopment at 210 N. Green St., where New York-based WeWork plans to open a collaborative workspace next year.

The 3,100-square-foot bike station, which aims to accommodate bike commuters with locker rooms and showers as well as bike storage, will be privately operated by WeWork as a business and use no public funds, though the mayor brokered the arrangement, city officials said.

 Sounds good, more biking amenities is good news for the City, imo, especially when one of the options of becoming a WeWork member is “Free Beer”1

Fulton Market Food & Liquors - mural
Fulton Market Food & Liquors – mural

and still some current property owners are whining about not being able to sell their historic buildings to developers who will then raze the building, and replace the 19th century brick structure with a drab condo building with architecture inspired by Home Depot. Viva capitalism!

The land use plan, which will be adopted as policy by the planning department this summer, does not overtly change zoning but imposes guidelines for how parts of the proposed district — bordered by Halsted, Ogden, Randolph and Hubbard Streets — should be developed.

The most controversial part of the plan calls for portions of Fulton Market and Randolph Street to be given historic landmark status to preserve the character of storefronts that are the last remnants of the city’s food-manufacturing past. The neighborhood’s three major community groups — the Randolph/Fulton Market Association, the West Central Association and the West Loop Community Organization — have all formally opposed the landmark proposal, saying they’re concerned about the restrictions that would prevent demolition of some buildings and dictate the design of all.

  1. I’m not kidding, look []

Wolf Point complex

Wolf Point 1832
Wolf Point 1832

I follow news of this proposed new construction at Wolf Point quite closely as it is only a few blocks from me. The current plan calls for 1,200 parking spots – which means an area with limited traffic flow is going to get more congested. Additional feet of river walk areas will be pleasant. Ideally, there would be just a huge park right there instead, but that’s not realistic. I’m neutral on the proposed plan – I’m sure it will change a bit before the buildings are completed.

I’m also pleased that the developers are not requesting public subsidy dollars to build it, at least at the moment.

Chi developers give first glimpse of proposed buildings
Developers-give-first-glimpse-of-proposed new buildings

Blair Kamin of the Trib mostly likes it:

Touting what would be downtown Chicago’s largest new real estate development since the 2008 financial crisis, representatives of the Kennedy family and three financial partners are providing the first glimpse of a proposed three-tower office and apartment complex on a historic but long-underutilized site along the Chicago River.

The project, whose cost is pegged at more than $1 billion, calls for a slope-roofed office building of 925 feet, which would be Chicago’s eighth-tallest structure. Another office building and an apartment high-rise would bring the project’s combined square footage to nearly 3 million square feet, more than the biggest skyscraper of the boom years, the 2.6-million-square foot Trump International Hotel & Tower.

The plans, made public at a community meeting Tuesday called by Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, and attended by more than 300 people, are for the triangular Wolf Point parcel to the southwest of the Merchandise Mart. The Kennedys sold the Merchandise Mart in 1998, but still control Wolf Point, once home to pioneer taverns, a hotel and trading posts.

…the new project, whose developers are not requesting a public subsidy, would dwarf River Point. Its highest tower, whose prow-like edge would jut toward the river at Wolf Point’s south end, would rise to a height of 925 feet.

The other office tower, projected to be 700 feet tall, would occupy the site’s eastern flank, next to the Merchandise Mart.

Completion of the skyscrapers, which would be marketed to law firms, corporations, professional service firms and tech firms, is not envisioned until 2018 for the south tower and 2020 for the east tower.

(click here to continue reading Developers give first glimpse of proposed complex at Wolf Point at junction of Chicago River branches – Chicago Tribune.)

Wolf Point
Wolf Point

Kevin Dickert of Curbed Chicago adds:

Kenig, Lindgren, O’Hara, Aboona (KLOA) conducted the traffic study on behalf of the developer. In collaboration with CDOT, it focused on six intersections. Without delving into too much detail, the study concluded that area traffic will be negatively impacted by the addition of these buildings. However, the added congestion will be mitigated to some degree by the site’s proximity to a myriad of transit options. The CTA stop at Merchandise is within a few blocks. The Olgilvie Transportation Center is less than a mile away. And there are numerous CTA buses routes. KLOA suggested alternatives such as biking to work or using car-sharing programs to lessen traffic impacts.

Here are some other tidbits we gleaned from the meeting: The project will create an investment of over $1 billion in Chicago. It will add around 1,000 feet of riverwalk. Landscape architects want to reorient the riverwalk so that pedestrians are not separated from the immediate riverside by a layer of foliage, as is currently the case. To this end, a bulkhead will be installed. We were assured that no parking structures will be visible. There are also plans for terraced seating with grasses and plantings similar to the portion of riverwalk at State and Wabash. Lastly, before the development can proceed, a change must be made to the existing zoning governing the property. Jack George, real estate attorney working on the project, said he plans to file the amendment with City Council today.

(click here to continue reading Renderings Revealed and More at Wolf Point Meeting – Development Update-O-Rama – Curbed Chicago.)

Streaking Home
Streaking Home

Evening at Wolf's Point
Evening at Wolf’s Point

Take What You Think Will Last - Copper Blue
Take What You Think Will Last – Copper Blue

TIF May Need a Boost in Poor Neighborhoods

Leftover Stories

Leftover Stories

The problem I have with Chicago’s TIF program isn’t the program itself, but rather that it has turned into a form of corporate welfare for politically connected developers. Too much of the money goes where it isn’t needed, instead of where urban blight actually exists.

Local residents once called the far western stretch of Madison Street the downtown of the West Side. That was before the race riots and factory closings of the late 1960s sent this area around the thriving commercial corridor into a tailspin of population loss, poverty, crime and blight.

When Chicago set out over a decade ago to turn around the crumbling retail area, it created a tax increment financing district along Madison Street from West Garfield Park to the city limit at Austin Avenue. But halfway through the TIF’s 23-year life span, the city has spent only $4.8 million on commercial revitalization projects there, and western Madison Street remains a place of struggling retail strips and vacant, decaying blocks.

Criticism of TIFs under Mayor Richard M. Daley focused largely on his administration’s heavy spending of TIF funds in and around Chicago’s thriving downtown. But the scant investment along Madison raises a key question not answered by a TIF reform task force created by Mayor Rahm Emanuel: Can the city’s primary economic development tool help reverse decades of economic decline and physical decay in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods?

The TIF program was created 27 years ago specifically to spur development in the city’s blighted areas. When the city creates a district, it freezes the amount of property taxes that local governments can collect within a particular area for a period of 23 years. If property values rise during that time, the city is required to spend the additional property-tax revenue — the tax increment — on economically beneficial projects within the district or in a bordering one.

Whether they are public works or business subsidies, the projects are meant to catalyze development within the district. But if property values do not rise and create money for new investment, TIFs are virtually powerless to spur growth.

“It’s very difficult for those poor places to be turned around by this tool because the property taxes aren’t going to generate enough revenue to do the massive push that you need,” said David Merriman, an economics professor and director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois. “There’s got to be development to generate revenue, and that’s probably not going to work unless you already have some market momentum.”

According to a Chicago News Cooperative analysis of the last eight years of Mr. Daley’s tenure — during which the city escalated TIF investment — only 23 percent of the $1.84 billion in TIF funds spent went to districts in the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

(click here to continue reading TIF May Need a Boost in Poor Neighborhoods –

Twenty three percent is a woefully small percentage. Is the TIF program enough to spur neighborhood revitalization? Who knows, what’s obvious is that nobody is even trying.

The Earth Was Here
The Earth Was Here



TIF Money is Slush Fund Money

Honey Jug
Honey Jug

More on the planned development in the former MB Financial building that we’ve discussed previously, one that is getting millions of taxpayer dollars in a time of fiscal austerity for the non-developer constituencies…

Joseph Antunovich, president of Antunovich Associates, the designer of the project, said the area west of Halsted Street is “very emerging.” Over the past 10 to 15 years, he said, it has been developed into a desirable area.

Ald. Walter Burnett, 27th, said the area’s silent majority has supported the project, called Gateway to the West Loop, because it would create more than 200 construction jobs immediately and more jobs when the retail stores and the hotel open.

The developer, CD-EB/EP Retail JV, is asking the city for $7 million in tax increment financing to help pay for the first phase of the project, estimated to cost about $41.8 million.

The outlay needs approval from the City Council, though that is likely with Burnett’s endorsement. There is no financing in place for the second phase of the project, which includes the hotel.

Sy Taxman, one of the developers, said he is in conversations with two companies interested in developing a corporate hotel at the site. But, he said, construction isn’t expected to start until the first phase is substantially completed.

After a year without new hotel developments downtown, there are at least three on the way, and the city is likely to see more, said Adam McGaughy, executive vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, a unit of the Chicago-based real estate firm with the same name.


(click here to continue reading Cityscapes: West Loop business owners, residents at odds over Antunovich-designed plan for mixed-use development.)

2 South Halsted

2 S. Halsted, Chicago

My point is the same: why does this developer need tax payer funding to build in such a “desirable area”? Slush funds, in other words, for 200 temporary construction jobs, plus a few minimum wage jobs afterwords. I’d rather the $7,000,000 be spent on repairing water mains, sewers, potholes, teachers, firemen, yadda yadda, and not to help make profits for building developers, and yield campaign contributions to Walter Burnett, Jr.

One Third Of Chicago in TIF Zone

Interest is Going Up - Ilford HP5
Interest is Going Up – Ilford HP5

Juan-Pablo Valez of the New York Times adds this bit of detail to the Chicago TIF story that we’ve been complaining about for a while1

But many people remain unswayed. They point out that much of the TIF money was diverted from public schools, parks, libraries and other taxing districts and was instead put into accounts that Mr. Daley controlled and kept shrouded in secrecy.

“The findings do nothing to dissuade what had been my longstanding concerns, which were transparency in the process,” said John Fritchey, a Cook County commissioner.

Mr. Fritchey, a North Side Democrat, irked Mr. Daley last year when, as a state representative, he introduced legislation that would have funneled TIF money directly to the Chicago Public Schools.

Mr. Fritchey and other elected officials in Chicago have said that hundreds of millions of dollars are sitting in the accounts of scores of TIF districts, even after Mr. Daley tapped the TIF account last year to help balance the city’s 2011 budget.

“There is no question that several good projects came to be through the use of TIF funds,” Mr. Fritchey said. “The bigger question is, Is the city getting its money’s worth out of that investment? It’s a troubling prospect to give millions of taxpayer dollars to projects that are also generating millions in developer fees.”

Mr. Daley vigorously championed the use of TIF. By the end of his tenure in May, city officials had established more than 160 TIF districts that covered about one-third of Chicago. In total, the districts capture about $500 million a year, city and Cook County documents show.

The amount is equal to about one-sixth of the city’s annual core budget, although under Mr. Daley the money was not tracked or approved as part of the budgeting process, and his administration provided only a vague accounting of its TIF activities.


(click here to continue reading TIF Aided Public and Private Projects Almost Evenly, Analysis Shows –

United Airlines Headquarters
United Airlines Headquarters

If 33% of the city is located in a TIF development zone, doesn’t it effectively defeat the purpose of tax? Especially when so much of the money gets funneled to politically connected developers? Perhaps in addition to adding more transparency to the process, before a project gets funded, the voters of the district should get to vote directly on the decision. Ha.

Now, as aides to Mayor Rahm Emanuel review the city’s use of TIF amid the backdrop of severe budget shortfalls, an analysis by the Chicago News Cooperative shows that TIF spending was allocated almost evenly between public works and subsidies for private interests.

The examination of city TIF records for the last eight years of Mr. Daley’s tenure reveals that his administration spent about $1.7 billion in TIF money toward public and private endeavors. While about $700 million was spent to the benefit of private interests, roughly $865 million went to public projects like school construction, street repairs and Chicago Transit Authority stations and tracks. Another $1 billion paid off bonds issued to finance public and private projects, for a total outlay of almost $3 billion, the city records show…

Developers received $505 million in subsidies, just over 30 percent of the total TIF money spent by Mr. Daley. Those payments included $5.4 million to United Airlines to move its headquarters to Willis Tower, $13.7 million for the insurance giant CNA to renovate its South Loop headquarters and $8.5 million to help renovate the Carbide and Carbon building to house the Hard Rock Hotel on Michigan Avenue.

The city also spent more than $200 million buying properties, razing vacant buildings and cleaning up toxic land, mostly for the benefit of private developments.
Another $90 million, or 5 percent of total spending, was used for program administration, consulting and legal services, and for job training for businesses in select districts.

Carbon and Carbide Building blues
Carbon and Carbide Building blues

Giving taxpayer money to asshole corporations like CNA and United Airlines (and potentially the thuggish Ayn Randians at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange) really irks me. What do they need my cash contributions for? I’d rather divert my tax dollars back to schools (even though I don’t have children), roads, bike lanes, water mains, yadda yadda…

  1. and we’re not the only, nor the best source of news about TIF slush funds btw []

TIF Slush Fund Continues

Miller Coors HQ West Loop
Miller Coors HQ West Loop

Chicago’s TIF slush fund is the by far the most corrupt thing about Chicago’s government these days, and Ben Joravsky of the Chicago Reader has been following the story closely:



But because of loopholes in the state TIF law, the mayor’s pretty much free to spend the money on anything he wants, such as subsidies to corporations in return for unenforced agreements to keep jobs in Chicago. That’s how TIF money ended up subsidizing wealthy corporations setting up shop in the “blighted” communities in and around the Loop.

Ferguson’s July 12 report (available at hones in on the role played by World Business Chicago, an economic development group whose board is appointed by the mayor and includes many of Chicago’s corporate big shots. Among them are Glenn Tilton, who used to be CEO of United Airlines, and Terrence Duffy, chairman of CME Group, formerly known as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

WBC’s mission is to convince other corporate big shots to move jobs if not their headquarters to town, which is supposed to make us swell with civic pride—as though persuading, say, MillerCoors to move its corporate headquarters here from Milwaukee and Denver is the corporate equivalent of the Bears beating the Packers.

Anyway, as Ferguson points out, it’s not just that the folks at the WBC call on other corporate hotshots to move to town. It’s that they use handouts from the TIFs as one of the lures.

As Ferguson found, from 2005 to 2010, WBC wrote letters to the city’s TIF overseers, recommending subsidies for 12 corporations, including Accretive Health, ArcelorMittal USA, Block 37,, CME Group, CAN, MillerCoors, NAVTEQ, United Airlines, Willis Group, and Ziegler and Ccompanies.


(click here to continue reading Mayor Emanuel does the TIF reform dance | Ben Joravsky on Politics | Chicago Reader.)

Self Portrait with South View

Why do these wealthy corporations need tax payer money to build, especially during these dire economic times? Nobody really has a good answer. In the West Loop, Roundy’s got money from the TIF fund to build an upscale store called Mariano’s Fresh Market, directly across the street from an existing (and recently built) Safeway (Dominick’s), and a few blocks from a proposed Wal-Mart…

Yet just last month Emanuel’s administration signed off on a deal to give $7 million—taken from the Near West TIF district—to a bunch of developers so they can build an upscale grocery store at Monroe and Halsted.

Wow, where do I start?

First of all, the area is hardly blighted—it’s booming by Chicago standards.

Second, it doesn’t need a grocery store—there’s a Dominick’s right across the street.

And third, there are any number of more pressing needs for that $7 million. Every unit of local government is freaking broke—Mayor Emanuel just grimly announced that the city’s deficit is $600 million and counting.

I asked city officials if the developers had substantiated a claim that, but for the TIF, the land could not be developed. I’m still waiting for them to get back to me on that one.

The city says the grocery store will create 200 new jobs. That amounts to a subsidy of $35,000 a job—if we actually get all the jobs. And let’s face it—the city has never done much to monitor job agreements in the past.

I think we’d all be better off if Mayor Emanuel just closed the Near West Side TIF and sent the roughly $54 million it has in reserves back to the city, schools, parks, and county, which were all foolish to give it up in the first place.

(click here to continue reading Mayor Emanuel does the TIF reform dance | Ben Joravsky on Politics | Chicago Reader.)

And to top it off, this site isn’t even a blighted building, up until a few years ago, MB Financial, a mid-sized bank with over $10,000,000,000 in assets, was headquarted in this building. They moved across the street into a newer, sleeker building, but their old location isn’t exactly a shit hole.

Roundys in West Loop

Crowne Plaza at Night

This deal has been discussed in various forms for a while now

Roundy’s Supermarkets Inc., which has been pushing to break into the Chicago market for more than four years, has inked deals for two Mariano’s Fresh Market stores in the city that are to open next year along with a third suburban location in Palatine. The Milwaukee-based chain has signed leases for two city locations: a store at the northwest corner of Monroe and Halsted streets in the West Loop — where talks had faltered a year ago — and in the Uptown neighborhood, where Mariano’s is to anchor a big retail-residential development planned at Clarendon and Montrose avenues.


In the West Loop, the Mariano’s will be kitty-corner from a Dominick’s just west of the Kennedy Expressway. Developer Seymour “Sy” Taxman says the deal was resurrected several months ago as Mr. Taxman brought in a couple new equity partners and dropped plans to build a tower atop the grocery store.

“I took a very big risk on this property because I believe in this neighborhood,” says Mr. Taxman, CEO of Skokie-based Taxman Corp. “I’ve been at this project for a long time. I wanted to make sure, when we made a commitment to go forward, that this project was deliverable.”

Mr. Taxman, who wouldn’t identify his new partners, says a lender has agreed to a term sheet to finance the project. He expects to start construction in late summer or early fall so that Roundy’s could open by late 2012.

The store will be about 70,000 square feet, Mr. Taxman says, on the second level of a new building atop a 25,000-square-foot retail strip along Halsted. There will be a surface parking lot plus rooftop parking above Mariano’s.


(click here to continue reading Roundy’s signs deals for more local upscale grocery stores | News | Crain’s Chicago Business.)

Madison Street Bridge

TIF Slush Fund

Mayor Daley’s budget is in deficit, municipal projects don’t get funded, schools don’t get funded, yet developers can get as much TIF money1 as they need, no matter what. No consequences, no strings. Just plain ole corporate welfare.

Half Done

A city panel approved another major increase in financial assistance for planned Loop apartment development that has struggled to get off the ground because of rising costs and the tough lending climate.

The Community Development Commission signed off Tuesday on a $34-million tax-increment financing subsidy to help pay for the conversion of a vintage Loop office tower at 188 W. Randolph St. into a 310-unit apartment building.

That’s more than four times the $8 million in TIF funds the city initially approved for the development back in 2006, when its total cost was estimated at $79 million.

But the projected cost had soared to $139 million in 2008, and the project’s developer, Village Green Cos., went back for more. The city complied by hiking the subsidy to $20 million.

[Click to continue reading Loop project poised to get another big TIF boost – Chicago Real Estate Daily]

Via Lynn Becker, who adds:

When, in 2006, a developer announced plans to rehab Vitzhum & Burns Steuben Club Building at 188 W. Randolph, an $8 million dollars contribution from the massive Central Loop TIF was going to kick in about 10% of the $79 million cost.

But wait – there’s more! The project is also getting $40 million dollars in tax-exempt bonds from the state, plus $37 million in tax credits. You, lucky taxpayer, kick in almost half of the project cost and the private developer gets the building. Socialism, Chicago style.

When Draconian cutbacks are effecting everything in Chicago from the CTA, to the schools, to 4th of July Fireworks, the city is diverting another $26 million in tax revenues to an economically unsustainable development.

[Click to continue reading ArchitectureChicago PLUS: Welfare Queen]

Really disgusting. The Vitzthum & Burns Steuben Club Building is not a cookie-cutter square box, but it isn’t in the upper echelon of Chicago architecture either.

from a CBS Chicago report (presumedly based on the press release from Village Green Companies)

The Community Development Commission approved a plan to redevelop the vacant and historic Randolph Tower at 188 W. Randolph St. into 310 apartments, retail and commercial space, according to a release from the CDC.

The action recommends the designation of Village Green Companies as the developer for the proposed $145 million renovation.

Plans call for the mixed-use building, formerly known as the Steuben Club Building, to be converted into 168 studios, 98 one-bedroom and 44 two-bedroom units, the release said. Sixty-two of the residential units will be made affordable to households at or below 50 percent of median area income.

Village Green bought the 45-story office building out of bankruptcy in 2005 and will convert the 80-year-old structure into apartments. Plans also include 9,500 square feet of ground floor restaurant and retail space. Village Green will occupy 11,400 square feet on the second floor as its Chicago regional office.

Amenities will include a fitness center, swimming pool and spa. A social club will be located on the 38th and 39th floors, offering 360-degree views of the skyline and Lake Michigan, the release said.

The Gothic-style building will have extensive work done to preserve its historic terra cotta façade and other ornamental details and a gut rehabilitation of the interior.

The CDC also approved a redevelopment plan for the proposed Randolph/Wells tax increment financing district. Creation of the district will support the renovation of Randolph Tower and help redevelop other underutilized and vacant buildings in the area.

[Click to continue reading
City OK’s Rehab Of Loop Tower, Home For Teen Mothers On West Side –

Hey, build for the future, right? Demand for new condos might be low now, but in twenty years…

Via EveryBlock’s hyperlocal news

  1. tax increment financing []