Emanuel project would pump almost $1 billion into wealthy developer’s pockets while South and West Side neighborhoods remain mired in disinvestment.
CHICAGO, January 24, 2019—CTU members joined community residents from across the city today to send a clear message to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel: don’t jam through approval for Lincoln Yards, the politically connected multi-billion dollar development of clouted real estate invester Sterling Bay. Today’s press conference was organized by the Grassroots Collaborative, one of the city’s most active progressive projects.
The matter rests in the hands of the Plan Commission, whose ex officio members include Mayor Emanuel, plus 14th Ward Alderman Ed Burke, 40th Ward Alderman Pat O’Connor, 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett, 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney, 1st Ward Alderman Joe Moreno, 25th Ward Alderman Juan Solis and 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore—all of whom have a track record of rubber stamping Emanuel’s political agenda.
“This bum rush is part of $2.4 billion in giveaways to wealthy development that Rahm is trying to ram thru the City Council and the Plan Commission that Emanuel controls before he steps down,” said CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates. “This TIF proposed for Lincoln Yards is Rahm’s $800 million parting gift to Sterling Bay and the Crown Family.”
The Crown family is among the wealthiest in the nation—and has pumped almost half a million dollars into Rahm Emanuel’s political coffers. Keating Crown is a Sterling Bay partner and the grandson of family scion Lester Crown.
“The proposed Cortland/Chicago River TIF District and the related Lincoln Yards development plan will continue to siphon away much-needed funds from the investments our students and their families actually need—like counselors and nurses and librarians in every school,” said Davis Gates. “We should be investing instead in desperate needs like our public schools, affordable housing and mental health care, all critical public needs that have taken huge hits from this mayor.”
“Like so many of Emanuel’s TIF giveaways—RiverPoint Plaza, the Marriott Hotel and DePaul Stadium among them—this project can be built without taxpayer dollars,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey. “This development utterly fails to meet the requirements for TIF funding—and continues to concentrate public dollars and public investment in the whiter, wealthier part of the city at the expense of Black and Brown communities and families.”
According to the Daily Line, Lincoln Yards’ design features 6,000 new residential units, triggering a requirement that 1,200 be set aside for low- and moderate-income Chicagoans. But only 300 will be built on site, according to the plans presented to the Plan Commission—virtually assuring the development will perpetuate the economic and racial segregation that has plagued Chicago neighborhoods for decades.
Fast-tracking these TIFs for approval—just before the mayor, his Planning Commissioner and numerous aldermen, including Solis, step down—is shady dealing, charge CTU officials. The deal has questionable ties to Ald. Burke, currently under indictment for extortion—and whose law firm represented Sterling Bay, the developer who will directly benefit from Emanuel’s $800 million TIF.
“When two out of seven members of the plan commission—Burke and Solis—are involved in a still-developing scandal, this is no time for that body to push through mega-deals that will benefit a handful of private companies at the expense of the city’s taxpayers,” said Sharkey.
Many mayoral and Aldermanic candidates are already on record against these mega-TIFs, arguing they do not want to be locked into deals that strip the city of much needed revenue for the next 23 years.