Saturday, March 8, 2008

Zoning Frenzy Continues

A reader writes in:
"Shiller strikes again with yet another last minute zoning change, this one for Truman College's student parking garage. Seems to be a zoning frenzy in the 46 ward right now. This convoluted, confusing letter was sent out, as required by law, to some of the property owners within 250' of Truman. Not even on letterhead stationary. What's the time frame that these letters are supposed to go out prior to filing the application? Will forward you the GWNA block club newsletter that covered the one community meeting last summer. Another meeting was promised to address resident concerns and issues.
By the way, Shiller has earmarked $10 million in TIF money to build this student parking structure. And how much TIF money is going to rehab the Wilson El station?"

Here is the letter received by some of the nearby residents:

March 12, 2008

Dear Sir/Madam:

In accordance with the requirements for an Amendment to the Chicago Zoning Ordinance, specifically Section 17-13-0107, please be advised that on or about, March 12, 2008, I, the undersigned, will file an application for a change in zoning for the property located at 1145 W. Wilson, 4310 and 4410 N. Racine Street, and 4426, 4463 and 4530 N. Clifton Avenue from Institutional Planned Development120 and C2-3 District to Institutional Planned Development 120, As Amended.

The owner of the subject property is PBC located at 50 West Washington Street, Room 200, Chicago, Illinois 60602 and the Chicago Transit Authority, 567 West Lake Street, Chicago, IL 60606.

The applicant for the planned development application is The Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 508 – City Colleges of Chicago, with offices located at 226 West Jackson, Chicago, Illinois 60606.

The purpose of the planned development application is to allow construction of a mixed use building consisting of an 1,138 space parking structure above a 76,000 square foot student services facility.

I am the duly authorized attorney for the applicant and contract purchaser. My address is 222 North LaSalle Street, Suite 1910, Chicago, Illinois 60601. My number is (312)884-5067.


Caroline A. Nash
Attorney for Applicant


  1. It's a letter from the future! Someone is magic.

  2. What ever happened to the concept that the TIF money by Illinois law is supposed to be spent to correct the blight factors. One key blight factor is our 100 year old sewers, similar to those that collaped in Ravenswood this winter. And like those that collapsed at 3600 N LSD two winters ago. And like those that collapse at 700 West Junior Terrace every few years.

    The city is not supposed to tap TIF funds to pay for city projects that are already within it's ongoing maintenance responsibility. Nor is it supposed to tap TIF funds for things to the exclusion of fixing the blight.

    Thus far all our TIF funds have been spent on everything other than what our TIF blight. When does DALEYLAND and SHILLERLAND get held accountable?

  3. Pave the open space and parkways. Plant the roof.

    Well there goes the last inch of open space in that neighborhood. But hey, this is Shillerland. No building setbacks, Wilson Avenue sidewalks used as parking lots for favored vote getters, and TIF funds for student parking that the TIF taxpayers cannot use.

    She'll no doubt want a Daley green roof paid for by TIF tax payers too. Will Clean Slate have to be hired to maintain that also while city workers snooze?

  4. The envelope WAS postmarked March 5th, and amazingly had a return address for Chico & Nunes, Attorneys at Law...not even the same address written in the letter.

    Thank god Shiller knows what we need in our neighborhood and is willing to spend millions of taxpayer dollars she never paid into to build a soulless Soviet parking block for the uneducated masses on top of a blighted tennis court and blighted greenspace! The Politburo and Dear Leader Chairman Shiller know what's best! Down with the bourgeois Condo People (at least after we PAY for her 10 Year Plan)! Up with the Truman Re-Education and Propaganda Center!

  5. - OK, so what do we as neighborhood residents do about this?
    - Is there a hearing?
    - Is this one of those things I've read about where letters that are sent out, and then when nobody in the community shows up at some meeting that was never publicized, and then the city carries out its plans?

    If someone who has lived in Chicago for a while knows more, please post! Thank you.

    Ms. Nash is indeed listed as an attorney for Chico and Nunes, and has contact info listed as

  6. The fix is in:

    Gery Chico — former U.S. Senate candidate, chief of staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley and president of the Chicago Board of Education — has changed law firms again, this time hanging out his own shingle with an associate, Marcus Nunes. Mr. Chico said Chico & Nunes will enable him to focus on zoning and property law, something he was not able to do at his previous firm, Arnstein & Lehr.

  7. Wasn't it Gery Chico who represented Vote Fraud Mike Segal when he wanted an upzone to turn the former Midway Mover's lot on the South East corner of Montrose and Broadway into a Pep Boy's?

    I remember at that community meeting that the lawyers (and Shiller) argued that a national chain business would bring safety and security to Uptown. We all fell on the ground laughing and pointed one block north to the then notorias McDonalds (which has since cleaned up its crime act).

    The community sort of won that one, even though Segal then sold to the condo developer that was allowed to build with no set backs and used faulty split brick construction that will leak and crack in few years. (The workmen tipped me off, I reported to the city inspector, and the city did nothing about it.)

  8. And Chico, Mayor Daley's right hand and zoning man, has just been slotted into the Chicago Park District just in time to reconfigure the Parks for the Olympics.

    Watch out Roger's Park. Your beaches access is about to disappear with a little zoning magic.

    September 5, 2007
    PA-2007-36 by Mayor
    Parks and Recreation

    Appointment of Gery J. Chico as a Commissioner of Chicago Park District

  9. Article on this project from the Truman student newspaper, formatting is choppy since it's pasted from a .pdf:

    By Erika Buchancow
    staff Writer
    Construction on Truman College’s new parking and student services building has been postponed for three months, due to delays in the acquisition of land from the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).
    According to Truman Vice President
    Dr. Pervez Rahman, Chancellor Wayne
    Watson and Alderman Helen Shiller are still in negotiations with CTA Chairman Ron Hooberman. The discussions have led to a
    letter of agreement for the land acquisition, which is in the process of finalization.
    “Once that letter is in place and that agreement happens between the CTA and the CCC, we will then be able to take this matter to the City Council to get approval,”
    said Rahman.

    According to Ira Hunter, Security
    Director at Truman, “This project is definitely going to get done because the money is out there. The design is finalized. There are just little details we need to work out.”

    Rahman targets a start date of mid-
    May and says the project will be completed in 2010. “We’re hoping at the beginning of the spring semester to have the parking facil-

    March of 2010, the student services build-
    ing will be available.”
    The new structure will add 1,100 parking spaces, a student services building, and will incorporate new technology such as computer kiosks for the aide of students.
    Students should find alternate means of parking for the 2008 – 2009 Fall semester. Alternate parking will be located at
    Wilson and Lake Shore Drive. From there, shuttle buses will take students to Truman.
    “The shuttle buses will continue all the way to the end of construction,” said Rahman.
    Continuous shuttle service will run between Truman and the lot from 7a.m. until 10:30p.m.
    In addition, Rahman stated, “There
    will be some parking available here. It will be for people with disabilities.” Parking will still be available on campus for parents who drop their children off for the Child Development Lab School, also.
    As the project progresses, students will be updated with the most current informa- tion on the Truman College website. “We would like everybody know that we are be- ing proactive so that there is little to no dis-
    location, especially for our students,” said

  10. Be aware, the Truman parking garage and student administration building is:
    - Getting $10 million in TIF money, your property tax money, from Shiller. NO community input
    - As currently designed, will completely block off pedestrian access from Clifton to Wilson
    - Creates a 6 story wall along Sunnyside
    - Eliminates the Truman mall with a driveway to the garage

    Contact Lynn Walker, Truman president. She promised another community meeting to resolve concerns raised by residents at the meeting last summer.

    Call Shiller's office, ask the date for the Truman community meeting. 878-4646

    Join your block club. Power in numbers.

    Get organized, get involved.
    Get your neighbors on-board.

    Is a block long, six story building, partially funded
    with $10 million of your TIF money really good for Uptown residents??

  11. So does this mean that pedestrians living on Racine and Clifton south of Wilson will now have to either walk down to Magnolia or up to Broadway in order to get to the Wilson red line stop?

  12. Anonymous wrote... "Eliminates the Truman mall with a driveway to the garage".

    If by mall you mean that stretch of sidewalk and park benches that runs due south of the Racine & Wilson stoplight then I as a neighbor am totally ok with that.

    Once warmer weather returns it mostly seems to be a social club for the homeless with, and I've seen this myself and called 911 on it, weekly screaming matches and the odd fistfight.

    An urban oasis it isn't.

    Uptown has it's share of problems but I never get the sense that Truman is the source of them. If this is something they feel they need then I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  13. Isn’t this structure being build on the land that was supposed to be use for the other half of the “Wilson Yard mixed income housing” At the 2004 (I think) Wilson Yard meeting didn’t Holsten and Shiller claim the Wilson Yard housing was truly mixed income because they were going to build affordable owner occupied housing on the Truman tennis courts? I believe we were even shown architectural drawings for this ploy project.

  14. Where is all of this love for Truman coming from on the part of Shiller? When Truman came in, it displaced something like 12,000 poor urban residents. People died in related arson fires. What happened with Truman helped crystallize the movement against economic displacement.

  15. To answer the question on building market rate housing on the tennis courts--the answer is yes, the original Wilson Yard plan showed market rate housing on this land.

    This was supposed to create the mixed-income aspect. What a joke that has become.

    Second, the letter has glaring mistakes on actual addresses.
    4310 N. Racine is in Graceland Cemetary. 4426 N. Clifton is the Voice of the People property.

    Third, this project coupled with the Wilson Yard plan shows the same excellence in urban planning as the monkeys at the zoo could do.

  16. Perhaps I'm naive, but I think that if Truman College is a way for more people to get an education, then I support it. A parking garage and student center could help -- but as long as it's done properly!! (i.e. they beef everything up with security cameras and round-the-clock security patrols, respond to the community regarding potential rerouting of traffic etc.) In theory, having a lot more security around there interfacing with the neighborhood might help a little.

    If the alderman and Truman college president would display some responsiveness and answer all the questions you've raised, I would be more supportive of this parking structure than having my tax money (city, state, and TIF) used for a low-income Wilson Yard high-rise which just will concentrate poverty and exacerbate the ongoing neighborhood problems.

  17. Or, they could have used Wilson Yards to restore our Ward Service Ward and to provide a Truman Parking Garage that could also be used by the community and the Uptown Theatre / Riviera / Aragon. But I guess that wouldn't leave sufficient room to rape and pillage the 46th Ward TIF fund to pay for citywide housing needs.

  18. Why are we using taxpayer money to subsidize parking. If people insist on driving, let them pay for it with higher parking fees. I'd be interested in seeing a transportation study of the Truman students to understand their transportation choices and whether more parking is actually needed. The UofC has a great parking manager who understands that parking isn't the best use of valuable land and uses pricing to ensure that some parking is always available. Truman should get in touch with him.

  19. to anaon 12:01 pm----You might want to check your facts before you start throwing around numbers. The mythical 12,000 people who were displaced by Truman College is a myth.

    Perhaps you did your studies at the Marc Kaplan School of Math.

    The 46th ward is made up of 47 precincts, each precinct representing approximately 700 registered voters. That would represent an additional 17 precincts full of voters within the footprint of Truman College. I don't think so.

    Who knows? Maybe the 3,000 missing children can find the mythical 12,000 displaced residents.

  20. He/She probably pulled that displacement number off of an old Heart of Uptown Coalition flyer or from past Justice Graphics news editions of Keep Strong, All City News, Chi-Town Lowdown, the 46th Ward Standard, or 46th Ward Report.

  21. No, not from the 46th Ward Report. That is Shiller's "Glenda the Good Witch" publication targeted to the South end of the Ward. She keeps that publication fluffy and cheerful. We notice these thing when we live in Oz.

  22. What I meant to say was that about 1,200+ housing units were lost in that area in the years before Truman was built. (And people did die in arson-related fires.) I shouldn't have been so sloppy in posting something so grossly incorrect and I do apologize. Thanks for correcting me.

    My sentiments do stay the same, though. What gives with all of the love for Truman now? Why would someone who was part of a movement to keep it out now be so generous? The parking has got to be part of a brokered deal to get something else.

  23. What's really going on with the Wilson Yard TIF and using this money to "revive a blighted community?"

    If you don't know the Wilson Yard TIF boundaries and how TIF money--your property taxes--should be spent. Visit for details.

    How the alderman decides to spent your property tax money is pretty hard to track...and the aldermen like it that way.

    We know this much: About $45 million is going to build two Wilson Yard low-income highrises, $600,000 goes to three existing section-8 buildings.

    Another $10 million is a gift to Truman's parking garage.

    How much is going to the Wilson El station? Not a penney

    How much is going to improve Uptown's infrastructure and improve the street's lighting and improve safety? Not a penny?

    How much is going to restore our park fieldhouse? Not a penny?

    TIF reform is what it will take to give people a say in how TIF money is really spent.

  24. So let me get this straight--we are complaining that a publicly funding city college is getting monetary benefits from the TIF to replace a PARKING LOT with a building and a parking ramp that will benefit the student body? Outrageous.

  25. Not necessarily complaining about the money going to Truman, but the lack of community input that was used to come to this decision. Do you know how many times the plans for Wilson Yard have changed?

    The key to this is - it is our money, the property tax payers in the TIF area. When is Shiller going to include us in the decision making process?

    Anon 12:52 - do you live and own in the TIF area?

  26. "Shiller has earmarked $10 million in TIF money to build this student parking structure"

    may i ask, what is your source on this?

    Truman College's property is tax exempt, that means improvements on it do not contribute to increasing the property taxes of the future

    also I doubt any WY TIF money would be diverted from the WY project

  27. It wasn't my post but Graceland-Wilson Neighbors have the figures on their website. They don't cite their source.

  28. Shiller announced this $10 million in TIF financing for Truman's parking garage at the community meeting last summer.

    Since when did it matter to the alderman that any of the Wilson Yard TIF money actually be used to improve the community and raise property values?

  29. People put this all together and look at how you're being bamboozled by your elected alderman.

    She's building her legacy low-income highrises in Wilson Yard that will bring 100's of more very poor people into a neighborhood drenched in low income housing. She can and will use your property tax dollars to do this.

    She's giving $10 million to build a parking garage for students who don't even live in the neighborhood. How does that benefit the residents?

    She's earmarked 4600,000 more for rehabbing 77 units of section 8 units.

    How is your TIF money being spent? Anyway your alderman decides to spent it. You don't matter.

    TIF money is free money for the aldeman and mayor. They all see it as their personal bank account. Until we get mad enough and organized enough, you'll be paying through the nose for whatever your alderman decides is important to her and not the community.

  30. Didn't we originally believe there would be a TIF financed parking structure in Wilson Yards that would alleviate community parking woes? When did it jump the tracks and become a private City College parking lot paid for by the local real estate tax paying residents. Only 50% of the property owners in this TIF even pay real estate taxes because of the high concentration of tax-exempt non-profits. Thus, the non-profits are already getting a "free-ride" by not contributing anything taxwise. DO they also have to take 100% of the dollars this TIF generates over the years? What's left for the taxpayers and the community? Zilch.

    How do these non-profit tax exempt organizations and city departments reap the benefits of a TIF that was supposed to eliminate local blight and develop a business strip according to it's TIF study. Are we local real estate tax payers the substitute for their capital spending budget? Where is their own capital spending budget being spent?

  31. It is wrong to characterize this as Helen pulling whatever strings she can pull to add low income housing while sticking to those in the community who oppose low income housing.

    That is not what is going on here. The TIF money allocated to low income housing has created blight. Look at the mess at 927 West Wilson with the overflowing dumpsters for months. Look at the low income housing behind the college that was given our land and funding. Their management has illegally allowed felons who aren't on the lease to live and sell drugs out of those units for years. So many years, that the neighbors know them by name. Shiller doesn't care.

    Rotten low income housing is just fine with her. Quality low income housing is what we demand for our tax dollars spent. We've never get that value. Just tax payer subsidized junk and crime.

    TIF funds, by law, have to be spent in certain ways. She's not spending them that way. She doesn't care. Just more taxpayer dollars wasted while the community deteriorates. And don't blame it on Uptown. The 48th Ward end of Uptown does just fine.

  32. Beg to differ on that point about the 48th part of Uptown. Weiss Plaza is now mostly boarded up, and the location of much crime. If labor ready comes in we are just extending those problems further down on Sheridan. (Oh, but at least it will be staying off Broadway---ehem!) Why doesn't she take that $10 million dollars and use it for a job training center at Truman rather than a PARKING LOT? Why doesn't she do her job so that she doesn't have to create problems for Uptown residents who didn't vote for her and can't vote her out. If you think she doesn't communicate with her constituents, try being someone from another ward.

  33. "Until we get mad enough and organized enough, you'll be paying through the nose for whatever your alderman decides is important to her and not the community."

    Ok. I am convinced that TIFs need to be reformed and that folks outside of Uptown are behind that too. What do you suggest? A lawsuit? A rally? The things that people have done...letters, complaints, FOIA collection, challenges at community meetings aren't working against the Daley administration and the newspapers and alderman who like things just as they are.

  34. I should have said the area of Uptown under Mary Ann Smith's control is doing fine.

    Yes, Weiss Plaza had gone downhill fast and is becoming more crime ridden. It was moved to Shillerland. It used to be in the 48th Ward and after a political remap some years ago was transferred to Shiller's 46th Ward control in exchange for the 48th Ward getting the Borders triangle south to the Leland Hotel.

    Yes, those of you in the 48th Ward living next to Shillerland feel the bad spillover effects. But, Shiller gets alot of help getting re-elected from your politicians too, including Carol Ronen, former Larry McKeon, Harry Osterman running Daley's campaign operation, and Jan Schawkowsy. They all trade favors to keep her in office.

    She wouldn't be here without outside help and money.

  35. Thanks for the info Anon 9:37...thanks very much. I didn't know that but now that I do people will be hearing from me.

    When I moved here years ago I always thought that Shiller only had to Lawrence and was surprised with what was happening. What we have here is actually a nice cause & effect relationship for all of the doubters out there. A formerly stable area suddenly transforms into a boarded up mess and the potential location of the first day labor store in Uptown in about 30 years. A big reason? A change in Alderman.

  36. Hi, everyone. Very interested in the Chico connection to the parks and Olympics. We are the Committee to Keep Lincoln Park Public ( Chico has promised us a meeting to try to negotiate the soccer field problem. We simply don't want it there, and we don't want him to finesse it through. We are prepared to take direct action if need be.

    We've also identified the broader problem about the privatization and general takeover of Lincoln Park and other parks, the increasing hobbling of park advisory councils, the Olympics, and related matters. It is systematic, and we have to react to it quickly and formally.

    We'd like to hear from your leaders and start a more comprehensive dialogue on this. When we are all together, we can and will make sure they heed the public's wishes, not their own priorities.