Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Truman Parking Garage Meeting Announced

Mark your calendars, the Truman College Parking Garage community discussion is now planned for March 24, 2008 from 6-8pm at Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Avenue.

Click on the meeting notice for a full-size version.

The information is provided by the college, not the alderman's office. There's a blurb at the bottom that reads:

*Per City Council requirements, community meetings take place within two weeks of introduction, which is the reason for this short notice.

We hope to see a large turnout at this meeting from the community whose tax dollars are paying for this garage, through the Wilson Yard TIF.

Update: Click HERE to see renderings of the proposed "green" parking garage that will house 1,138 parking spaces just steps from the Wilson El stop.


  1. Just an idea.

    Does Truman have public wifi? The reason I ask is because if internet access is available, someone from the community could post updates on what exactly is being discussed at the meeting and post progress on a website. I know some news networks do this when a live meeting, debate, conference, presentation, etc happens.

    I won't be at the meeting (I will be out of the country) but it would be great to get a synopsis of all that happened through an easily accessible public site.

    (I know that it is easier to suggest work for others than yourself, I'm sorry. I honestly would consider doing this myself if I was around)

  2. To clarify: funding is from the State of Illinois, Chicago City Colleges, and the TIF, so I think our tax dollars are even more significantly represented in this project.

    Many people living near the college know that the Magnolia-Sunnyside intersection - a half block from the proposed garage - has had problems for quite some time (along with the Wilson/Magnolia and Wilson/Broadway corners), so attending the meeting and speaking up about security, street parking, blocked walkways, or other concerns you have will be very important.

    --> Please remember that if you don't attend the meeting, it will look like nobody has any concerns...and you will not get to have any say in what happens with your tax dollars. Live blogging is a good idea, but if you're in the area at the time, reading about it online from a table in the Starbucks at Wilson will not demonstrate nearly the level of interest to the Truman College or alderman's office staff as actually showing up and asking questions.

    We have no idea when or if there will be another meeting, because construction is supposed to start within a few months. The same small number of people attending CAPS and other meetings simply can't stand up for the rest of the community all the time...while this website is really great, we won't implement improvements and changes if the sole or maximum extent of most people's involvement is simply blogging.

  3. Can someone confirm that Wilson Yard TIF funds are being used?

  4. Please remember that if you don't attend the meeting, it will look like nobody has any concerns...and you will not get to have any say in what happens with your tax dollars. Live blogging is a good idea, but if you're in the area at the time, reading about it online from a table in the Starbucks at Wilson will not demonstrate nearly the level of interest to the Truman College or alderman's office staff as actually showing up and asking questions.

    I fully agree, but some people might not be able to attend due to work or personal reasons. If I was in town I would be there in a heartbeat.

    Does anyone know of a good map that shows what areas taxes go into TIF funding? A poster provided a link in a different news item but I couldn't find it on that website.

  5. Let me repeat:
    At a community meeting on this project, Shiller announced this building will be funded by:
    - $30 Million City Colleges
    - $15 Million State of Illinois
    - $10 Million TIF money

    IF you want to become more TIF-savvy, you can visit
    The group is defunk, but the website is still up and a very good source on TIFs.

    There are 4 TIFs in Uptown. The Big-Momma of them all is the Wilson Yard TIF that goes from Clarendon to Malden,Montrose and snakes around Leland and Lawrence. Maps on

    If you really want to find out how TIFs are abused and used by the mayor and many of the aldermen, read the Reader's archives with all of Ben Joravsky's investigative reports.

    What you need to know about TIFs is this:
    - TIFs freeze the amount of property taxes--that go to the support schools and parks, etc. within the TIF boundaries for 23 years.
    -The increase in property taxes over this 23 year period are directed into the TIF fund.

    -The money is supposed to be used to address "blighted conditions and increase property values" in the TIF area.

    - There is absolutely no reporting system on your tax bill to show how TIFs impact increasing property taxes. (Think about this for a minute. If the money going to schools, parks, infrastructure is frozen for 23 years, doesn't it make sense you'll be paying more taxes to make up this deficit.)

    - There is no accountability required by the mayor or alderman to show how they choose to spend this money. If you have a decent alderman, like Mary Ann Smith, they have community input on how TIF money gets spent. But this is not a requirement.

    - There is no requirement that the property owners and residents living in the TIF area have any say in how this money is spent.

    -It's estimated that about
    $500 Million is pouring into the City of Chicago's coffers from the approx. 140 Chicago TIFS

    Now, how TIFFed-off are you?

  6. If it is a required public meeting, then it is subject to the Open Meetings act and can be recorded.

  7. Tax Increment Financing (TIF) can be a good development tool when used appropriately but that's not happening, not even in 48th Ward.

    The escalating number of TIF districts parallels the recent run up in housing values. Cheap credit juiced up incentives to build and to buy and transformed what were supposed to be "increments" into explosions of cash.

    There is no transparency, no reporting requirements and no restrictions on how funds can be transfered, which means the Mayor can "port" from one TIF district to another, creating a river of money to pay for whatever he chooses.

    With the most recent Council vote we may be up to 165 TIF districts in the City now, maybe more. The percentage of the city that has been "tiffed" is frightful.

    Instead of redeveloping blighted areas, more and more of our property tax dollars are being siphoned off to pay for pet development projects. This explains, in part, why our schools are suffering and one of the reasons the City raised taxes and fees; it had to take another slice to make up for the $500 million sliced out by TIFs.

  8. At what public meeting did Helen Shiller state that $10,000,000 of TIF funds would be used for this. I ask because I know the press reads this and they will need to document their source.

    Is there any written documentation or recording available to verify this?

  9. Here's the next interesting question. As Truman College is a nonprofit, how do we ever recover our $10,000,000? They will never pay property taxes on the garage.

  10. I am interested in this issue of the Open Meetings act, and whether information can be gotten on record about the funding sources (and all the other questions people have).

  11. The Architect's Rendering:

    From their site:

    As architect of record, STV is playing a major role in the new Student Services Center and multi-level parking garage at Truman College. The structure will add 1,138 much-needed parking spaces to the small urban campus. The western side of the building will be four stories high to be in scale with the surrounding residences and the eastern side will be seven stories high. The entire first level will be a 75,600-sf Student Services Center. It will be one of the tallest buildings in the neighborhood when it’s completed by 2009.

  12. Something must be up! I've gotten 2 emails from Shiller over the last couple of days (rehash of the website updates - nothing pertaining to questions I've asked, of course); the 46th ward website is updated and even mentions the Truman Square meeting ...

    I can do without the outright pandering of the "Fiesta Cultural,' post though. I don't speak Spanish, so I'm not sure what half the posting is about.

    Anyway, looks like Helen's looking to do some PR all of a sudden.

    Is she trying to earn some Jesus points, or something? I mean, she's doing a horrible job at it, but I am curious why this sudden surge of talkies from our normally tight lipped little alder-thief.


  13. There are 4 TIFs in Uptown. The Big-Momma of them all is the Wilson Yard TIF that goes from Clarendon to Malden,Montrose and snakes around Leland and Lawrence. Maps on

    Have you checked the site lately for the maps? It is telling me that the map or map host does not exist. I would love to see a map :)

  14. There's no $10,000,000 to recover unless it's using TIF money. Where's the proof?

  15. The map of all the TIFs in Uptown can be found on the Uptown Chicago Commission's website.

    Here's the one for the Wilson Yard TIF District:

  16. It is critical mass, yo. (And also the fact that people are amassing the evidence about the hypocracy.) My guess is that we are in for a cycle that will look like this: 1) a few community meetings/more newsletters 2) people will raise objections to things said in these meetings/newsletters 3) nothing will be resolved because Shiller does. not. ever. budge 4) she will point to the meetings and the newsletters as her good faith attempts to discuss things and 5) go back to business as usual because there is just no satisfying some people (and if they can't deal with living in Uptown they should just move to Lincoln Park.)

  17. The Open Meetings Act Summary:

    The open meeting act deals only with being able to get notification of a public meeting, getting access to the public meeting, and getting a record of the public meeting.

    It would not capture the situation where an alderman spoke at a private community group.

  18. Check out WhatTheHelen for a bit of Helen's hypocrisy. Who has thought of this: She is wanting to build a "green parking garage" to house more smog producing cars just steps from the Wilson El stop. Does that make sense?

  19. Whether or not it makes sense, if Shiller + Daley want will happen.

    "It will be one of the tallest buildings in the neighborhood when it’s completed by 2009." Capitalism is great. Even Hummer's can have lake views in Chicago.

  20. Of course they’re going to use $10 million if TIF money. Look below at the benefits they’re touting for the community:
    -Potential weekend garage parking open to the public
    -Expanding continuing education programs for the community, such as yoga, exercise and financial planning courses
    -Additional green space and landscaping, which will improve the environment and be enjoyed by students and community residents alike
    -New facilities and outdoor space for hosting community events

    Love the word “potential” if Shiller had written this she would have left that word off and just promised weekend public parking. Which we know will never happen.

  21. If they have classes on the weekends, you won't get your parking. And, as for the yoga and the financial planning, etc., if we actually had economic development in the community those businesses would arrive on their own and residents could walk to them.

  22. So, the questions are clear. 1)Can TIF money go to a capital improvement for a non-profit organization which will not be returning taxes to the TIF zone. 2) If TIF money can be spent this way, shouldn't the decision be made by the TIF zone residents (using a survey or something)and 3)If TIF money can be used for a non-profit under the theory that it serves a "public" purpose, then shouldn't the improvement be available to "the public" without any restrictions?

  23. I looked at the architectual renderings that are now linked to this post and am a little confused. Where does the current mall/pedestrian walkway that connects Racine from Sunnyside to Wilson fit in? Will that still be there? From the rendering it looks like the new structure only occupies the footprint of the current parking lot.

  24. The meeting will take place at 6 PM on the 24th, in the cafeteria at the south end of the building. Representatives from the architecture firm, alderman's office, and Truman will all be there. They will apparently have architectural renderings, a PowerPoint presentation, and animated graphics.

  25. Here is your argument on TIF funds use:

    TIF funds are supposed to eliminate blight as defined in the TIF study. Not only does this not eliminate this blight cited in the TIF study, it makes the blight specifically mentioned in the TIF study much worse.
    The following comes right out of the TIF study:

    Supporting Factor 6 Deleterious Land Use or Layout: (M) (E-26)
    56% (19 of 34 blocks)
    Evaluated on a parcel by parcel and area-wide basis – no need for a structure on property.
    These limit the development opportunities in key area of Wilson Yard
    Found in Three Areas:
    1. Arai Middle School
    a. Deleterious street layout
    b. Lack of buffering from residences Wilson, Sheridan, Leland, Clarendon
    c. Closed Streets Leland / Eastwood allow traffic from Sheridan& dead end into school walkways. Cause unsafe pedestrian vehicle movement.

    2. Truman College
    a. South & Southwest side lack buffering from residences
    b. South & Southwest side incompatible land use relations
    c. Sunnyside – Racine intersection not controlled.
    d. Signage is lacking to control heavy pedestrian vehicle traffic

    3. Broadway Corridor - Montrose to Leland
    i. irregular shaped parcels, shallow lot depths
    ii. businesses located under El tracks and shadowed
    1. poor lighting
    2. poor visibility to customers
    iii. 5-Way intersection Montrose, Sheridan, Broadway, - car turns
    iv. 3-Way intersection at Broadway, Kenmore, Sunnyside car turns
    v. thus, insufficient vehicle access & aggravate traffic hazards

    The existence of incompatible land-use relationships, buildings occupied by inappropriate mixed uses, or uses considered to be noxious, offensive, or unsuitable for the surrounding areas.

  26. Let's get us back to the basics. There are 3 branches of government in the United States (executive, legislative, judicial). Where is the oversight in this process? Is it up to local citizens to hold the executive and legislative branches accountable somehow? If TIFs are passed to address specific concerns, who is responsible for enforcing that that money is actually spent as it was intended? I realize there is an element of interpretation with spending decisions, but is there a mechanism for judicial review? Are private citizens expected to bear the cost of this process? If so, that will never happen and only competing private interests will challenge TIF spending because they are organized and have money.

  27. TIF Reform
    TIF Reform
    TIF Reform

    TIF Reform is what it will take to stop this blatant abuse that creates a big fat bank balance for Daley and the aldermen to do whatever they please with your property tax money.

    Who controls all the TIF money? Daley and the alderman. Who decides how to spend the money? Ditto? How is this spending reported? It's not. TIF abuse is the BIGGEST financial boondoggle in Chicago. Developer welfare at its finest. Ask Holsten. Is he wearing his new Cole Hahn loafers?

  28. From a recent article in the News-Star.

    "Earlier this month, Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) proposed legislation that would require taxpayers be given information about the purpose of TIF districts and their impact on people's tax bills.

    "Just like anything else, if a TIF, and the use of the dollars created by it, make sense, it should be able to withstand some sunlight," Fritchey said in a prepared statement. "People need to be aware that a TIF district located anywhere in Cook County affects taxpayers everywhere in Cook County.""

    I plan to write him in support of the legislation (after I see a draft) and also try to get him to include some language that would put some bite into investigations and oversight. Any ideas?

    The point about Cook County tax payers is a good one. If Republicans up in Winnetka got a sense that Helen Shiller's silly save-the-world-one-bad-plan-at-a-time public works project was the cause of tax increases for them, there might be a little more attention on what was going on around here.