Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Off Target? Like A Broken Record...

From David Roeder's column in today's Chicago Sun-Times:

"OFF TARGET: Uptown residents keeping watch over the Wilson Yard property at Montrose and Wilson are a vigilant group. Many of them reminded me that the site's developer, Peter Holsten, vowed in December that construction on the Target store would begin in January. He said so in the Sun-Times.

January is gone in the winter slush, and yet no construction has started. I know that thanks to many e-mails. So a conversation with Holsten was mandatory but not revelatory.

"Nothing's wrong and we are in good shape but I cannot talk about it," he said. Many retailers have been delaying or scrapping store expansions because the economy is pinching their earnings and banks are less eager to lend."


  1. We're in good shape for what?

  2. "Nothing's wrong and we are in good shape but I cannot talk about it."

    What Holsten meant but couldn't say:

    "I'm lying again, but (oh god) it's to a major newspaper this time, and this guy is actually calling me out on my lies of a couple months ago.

    "What I can't say is that this situation is so F'd up that no amount of money can fix it, we still don't have financing (we've doubled our original budget and gone back for more money so many times that we can't get away with it anymore), and that snow there? The chance of Target actually coming to Wilson Yard are about as likely as that snow being there in July, when I'll have to think of more creative lies.

    "Gee, I hope Roeder leave me alone from now on."

  3. I sent an e-mail off to Dave Roeder thanking him for the story, and said it remains concerning that we must depend on him for updates because we're not getting this information from Ald. Shiller and Peter Holsten.

    I then reminded him that Mr. Holsten had been a heavy contributer to Ald. Shiller's campaigns in the past.

  4. I am fine with it sitting empty I wouldn't mind it being made into a park.

  5. Banks are less eager to lend money - to Target? Thought this was a done deal, Helen?

    Target is not coming.

  6. People need to start flooding Helen's office with calls referencing Holsten's latest quote. Let's see their spin on this one.

  7. Better nothing than a mix up mess of a development.

    If no Target how can we stop this development from happening?

  8. The hell with Target. I want a beautiful LEED condo building with retail and some restaurants. Chea!

  9. "...but I cannot talk about it,"

    And exactly why can't he talk about it? He says he has a signed contract. Thus, the real estate negotiations, so you say Mr. Peter, are completed. Signed contracts are reachable by FOIA when they have been prepared, or was or are being used, received, possessed, or under the contol of any public body such as -- for example the Dept of Planning that controls our Wilson TIF funds.

    And, Mr. Peter, all persons are entitled to "full and complete" information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts and policies of those who represent them. This building is being constructed with public funds, baby and you cannot contract around FOIA as the city's outsourced developer.

    FORK IT OVER, A-Hole.

  10. Next thing you know Holsten will announce that business development is not feasible for this property as shown by Target not coming, therefore the Target land must also be converted to Low, Lower and lower that low income housing.

  11. It would make a great headquarters for Labor Ready

  12. "If no Target how can we stop this development from happening?"

    I really hate this question.

    The ONLY way to stop the development from happening was to have elected James instead of Helen.

    By God, yes, fight. This is NOT a "Tanya Lawler," "Suck it up, Helen won" post. Show up at meetings, call city officials and write letters. It might work.

    But, realistically? The election, THAT specific moment, was the clearest, most effective opportunity to stop the project in its tracks.

    But apparently people were more interested in bitching than in working on the campaign, donating or, at the end of the day, voting. Voter turnout in precincts surrounding the Yard was nothing special - it should have been 100%.

    If this community wasn't able to get James elected, the odds of these ancillary efforts working are really slim. It's more likely that it's going to collapse under its own weight thanks to Helen's general marginal competence and management.

    But if you're not happy with the development, the first question you have to ask yourself is "What did I really do to help James' campaign?" Because unless you gave til it bled and busted your ass in active volunteering to get out votes, then you really need to blame yourself.

    There's absolutely no mystery to how this project has gone as far as it has. It's driven by (just enough) political power. The only way to truly stop it was to CHANGE that seat of power. And this community failed.

    Yeah, I'm still kind of pissed. Because, as this question (and others like it) proves, people still won't take ownership and responsibility.

  13. I wonder.........
    If Target does not come, and the area that was supposed to be Target gets replaced with more low income housing; would that not be enogh to halt this development till the community was able to re-evaluate it?

    When this was originally proposed, the plans called for Mixed Income Housing with a Movie Theater, a Target, and several stores on the ground level.

    Now we have a New Cabrini-Green type development being constructed. HOLY CRAP, we were sold a Mercedes but actually got a Pinto for the same price. I don't understand how the whole scope changed and we can't do anything about it? I have a hard time believing that.

    With all the articles lately about Chicago corruption and Alderman screwing communities you would think this would be the perfect time to get this development re-evaluated and start over.

    As someone who was not a part of this ward for the last election I am unfortunately stuck with an Alderman who has somehow been getting away with murder for the last 20+ years. Gotta love politics.

    And by the way.......As I remember it, this Country actually elected Al Gore but we "somehow" ended up with one of the worst Presidents this Country has ever known. Something tells me getting an unpopular Alderman re-elected is a walk in the park.

  14. If voting for him wasn't enough, what else did you want me to do? Hold Helen's voter hostage?

    To say because I voted for James but didn't work his campaign it's my fault is bs.

  15. Hey, let's face it. Helen is a useful peg in a larger cog. Chicago is one of the nation's most Democratic towns and also the most segregated. That is no coincidence.

    Old time Committeemen always say that this is how the Daley’s get elected. They go into the poor communities, point to low-income housing projects and say, “Vote for me. See, I built that for you.” Then, they go into the rich and middle class, white communities and wink and let it be know that, “As long as you vote for me, you won’t have any of that in your neighborhood.”

    Helen plays along because concentrating all the “diversity” for the entire North Side into her ward keeps her in power. But notice, she places the same game. Her ward is not diverse. That is just one of her spin words. There is a line of demarcation at Montrose Avenue. Go south, and its pure white. Go north and its “diverse”. And, she for nearly twenty years as this Ward’s alderman she’s made it this way.

    It is the diverse population that ultimately gets screwed under this system but they flock to their Judas goat.

  16. I understand Hal's frustration but to claim that the only way we could have avoided the current situation is to have elected James is not true. Such an argument is premised on two falsehoods: (1) that Helen is singularly responsible for what other stakeholders do or don't do, and (2) that a freshman Alderman could have untangled this mess and turned the ship right.

    Does she have a part? A big one. Has she made significant mistakes that have contributed to this 8+ year failure. No doubt. But the factors and forces at play here are bigger than Helen and James put together. Besides, to over promise James as a prospective Alderman is doing him no favor.

  17. The passion and hard work that both Hal and his partner Channing have poured into the community has been astounding. Both of them will always have my respect.

    I have had my share of disappointments in life, but those disappointments have all led to successes later on. There are lessons learned, but no regrets. A year later, I continue to hear from different politicians who congratulate me and the campaign team on how well the campaign went and how professionally it was run while spending 1/4 of what Ald. Shiller spent. In that sense, getting 47% of the vote is remarkable, but I understand, not good enough.

    Last year, News-Star reporter and now editor Lorraine Swanson stated that blogs were one of the top stories in Chicago, and the reason is they have the power to hold the feet of elected officials to the fire when they don't listen AND communicate with their constituents.

    Winning an election against long-time incumbents will continue to be an uphill climb, but I believe blogs are making it easier. Another way of implementing real change is helping your block club become more effective. If you haven't heard from your block club in awhile, contact them and volunteer to help with a newsletter or updating their database. Clean & Green, which is just around the corner, is another opportunity to help your block club grow in numbers. Distribute fliers to encourage participation and then have a block club sign up list. The possibilities are endless.

    When we work together and stay focused on making Uptown better one step at a time, we become one step closer to creating real positive change in the community that ultimately benefits everyone. It won't come easy, but the hard work is worth it.

  18. Cause = Effect

    This monstrosity is coming. The reality is it will get built and we will have to deal with it.

    This is what we need to do as a community.

    #1...We need to clean up Sunnyside and Magnolia. This area is a Gang nightmare and has been so for decades. If we do not clean up this area before Wilson Yard is built than kiss this community goodbye! Show up to the 2311 C.A.P.S. meetings. We HAVE to change this area before "The Yard" is built.

    #2...keep yourself and those with a voice informed. Sometimes the news media is a bastard child of Satan...and sometimes they show some love. Lets keep them informed of the real issue. Holsen and Shiller are hiding something. If we keep pressure on the media to ask the right questions we might get a "Watergate" type admittance from it.

    #3...Put pressure on Holsen for drug screenings and Family background checks. If you do not understand why, see #1.

  19. Re: the gang problem on Sunnyside, Internal Affairs has suggested that this problem should have been taken care of by now. To get proper attention to the problem they suggest writing the new Superintendent and explaining that this problen is not being properly addressed by the police. There is only so much that they can do in responding to OPS complaints. There is alot more that can be done by the top command being made aware of a problem that has plagued this community way too long.

    Or, you can do what the rest of us old timers learned to do long ago. Just by-pass the 23rd District and call the DEA directly. You can always go downtown and walk right into the Federal building and file a complaint. And, if there is drug money or other unreported criminal profits involved, you can call the IRS and you get a cut of the proceeds they confiscate based on your tip.

  20. Peter Holsten said he had s signed contract. Illinois FOIA Law says signed contracts must be handed over to the public:

    Specifically, final contracts are not exempt. Proposals and bids for contracts, grants or agreements are closed by 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(h). The statute simply protects the competitive business information. See also 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(g), (I), (k), (p) and (r).

    Send your request for that Target contract to:

    Tony Binns, FOIA Officer
    City Hall, Room 1000
    121 North LaSalle
    Chicago, IL 60602
    Phone: 312-744-0986 Fax: 312-744-2271

    Demand in your letter that any denial contain a reference to the FOIA law exception that he relies upon as the basis for his denial or he tends to deny with no legitimate reason.

  21. Here is a response from the Alderman's Office I received today (2/29/08):
    "The date for completion has been pushed back to 2010, but all plans remain the same. The developer has made some progress on excavation, but once the weather breaks, we are expecting them to begin full steam again. Target is still on board as the anchor of the retail portion.

    If you would like to phone Holsten Developers, their telephone number is 312/337-5339 and my contact is Joe Dunn."

  22. Uptown Gal
    On March 2, 2008 I again requested through FOIA “Target’s letter of intent or any other communication indicating Target’s interest/commitment to lease or purchase space at Wilson Yard.” I have also requested “All contracts for the purchase or lease of property by Target (or it’s agents)”.
    I have talked to Tony Binns at the Department of Planning about this request and basically he’s saying that he cannot send it because they do not have it. They do not have it because this is an agreement between Holsten and Target. I read through the Illinois FOIA law and it only covers Public Documents. Any agreements or contracts between Holsten and Target would not be a public document. If anyone has advice or suggestions please let me know but at this point I believe we cannot get through FOIA these documents.