Lincoln Yards Deal Breakers for residents: Over paying for interest, the TIF, process and project transparency

Date: 
01/24/2019
RandyJacobson

Randy Jacobson

"A $400 million footnote in the Lincoln Yards plan is for interest," Randy Jacobson, an architect, pointed out at a #DelayTheVote* Tuesday press conference, as he outlined the top issues that individuals and groups feel are deal breakers for having the $6 billion, 52-acre Sterling Bay Lincoln Yards Project on the Chicago Plan Commission's Thursday agenda. 

Cost
He explained that the Sterling Bay will be obtaining that money at interest rates far greater than necessary. "The City could float a tax free municipal bond that would cost far less," said Jacobson. 

"It is like the Parking Meter Deal. The $1.6 million dollar, 75 year deal, costs the City millions every year. [Mayor] Daley could have put out a bond that would have cost maybe 2% and we would have the meters at the end of the deal." 

"The city is going to repay the whole $1.16 billion deal by the end of the contract," said attorney Clinton Krislov in a 2017 interview with CBS Chicago's Pam Zekman in 2017. It is also estimated that the purchasers' will have recouped their $1.6 billion "loan" by 2021. 

DelayTheTIF

#DelayTheTif group stand behind Rev. Liala Beukema, pastor, LakeView Lutheran Church, emcee at the press conference

TIF
"At the Joint Review Board about the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) on Jan. 10, the TIF was pegged at $800 million. The next day in the report it was $1.3 billion of which $400 million is in a foot note. Not one penny is for affordable housing but there is $2.5 million for Daycare," said Jacobson. 

Process
"In the process that Alderman Hopkins has said is transparent, we have had every meeting that is required by law. At every meeting we have been given information that is different and doesn't really represent the project," explained Jacobson. 

"Three days before the zoning meeting (Plan Commission Jan. 24), they release a 58-page document of what they wanted all along. 

"Alderman Hopkins said it has significantly reduced density, but since July, the square footage has gone from 12 million to 15 million square feet. That is just Lincoln Yards. The entire TIF square footage is 16 million square feet and that is before another added 3 million square feet," said Jacobson. "So three days before the Planning meeting, we still don't really know how many square feet are going to be in the Cortland/Chicago River TIF." 

"The current proposal raises more questions on many different topics which we all deserve answers to," said Gomez (Robert Gomez), music venue owner of Subterranean at 2011 W North Ave. and Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont Ave.  Representing CIVL (the Chicago Independent Venue League), Gomez also went head to head with Hopkins on Chicago Tonight emphasizing that the plans are still not clear. 

Hopkins countered Gomez saying that this is a 10-year build out and that Sterling Bay does not know what they are going to build for sure. Gomez pointed out building heights are beyond, at 60 and 50 stories too high for the area and that they should not get approval to build until people know the plan. "Slow it down," he said.

Project Transparency
While many are confused by what they see in even the third and most recent Master Plan, 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack says, "I believe he is deliberately making this confusing." 

"I'm not sure which is worse: The out-of-place height and bulk of the massive Lincoln Yards development. Or the high-handedness Ald. Brian Hopkins, 2nd, is displaying in bringing this flawed proposal to the Chicago Plan Commission on Thursday — a mere five days after it was released," says Chicago Tribune's Blair Kamin

Jacabson likens the transparency to the parable of the elephant. Blind people look at the elephant and they each have their idea based on the part they are inspecting. 

ElephantTale

The Elephant Parable

"They are giving us everything in bits and pieces and never the whole thing. We have not seen this in context with the traffic and the density or the other large projects going up nearby." 

Hopkins has made it clear, the project, despite what he promised to many individuals and groups, is going to the Plan Commission because the developers have done everything the people has asked for.

*#DelayTheVote is an ad hoc coalition of community groups, business and civic leaders

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