Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"City Hall Increases TIF For Wilson Yard To $52 Million"

Crain's Chicago Business reports:

The Daley administration has agreed to a jack up the public subsidy by more than 25% to $52 million on the Wilson Yard mixed-used project, which has been plagued by repeated delays.

Like many new projects, the development has apparently been stymied by the difficulty of obtaining construction financing. The increased tax increment financing subsidy now would account for 34% of the nearly $151-million development, well above a city guideline that TIF grants account for no more than 20% of a project’s cost.

The larger subsidy is part of a new TIF agreement between city officials and Chicago-based Holsten Real Estate Development Corp. that replaces an earlier agreement approved in May by the Chicago City Council. At the time, construction was expected to begin in July on the Uptown project, which would include a new Target store and 178 units of affordable housing.

Now, construction is scheduled to start by June 1, said Peter Holsten, president of Chicago-based development firm.

“The overall financial setup has shifted, hopefully for the last time,” he said.

Read the entire story here.


  1. Color me jaded, but I'll believe it when I see it.

    Still - I'm not 100% sure using a Target as an excuse for warehousing even more low income housing in our ward is the best idea.

  2. Last line of the story is interesting: "Target has agreed to contribute nearly $33 million to build its store, which the Minneapolis-based retailer would own."

  3. This land should be sold to private developers. 53 million dollars of our tax money to build this? And they keep raising taxes to fund projects like this.

  4. And if Congress passes the housing bill, right now is a great time for developers to buy foreclosed properties. Right now is a great time to step in and purchase some scattered site properties for subsidized housing. It doesn't have to be done this way...or this expensively.

  5. "Target has agreed to contribute nearly $33 million to build its store, which the Minneapolis-based retailer would own."

    Really? So was anybody there to confirm Target's statement? Is there a press release to that effect? A letter of intent? Anything from Target that actually says that other than Shiller, Holsten, etc.

    And why would Target, in a city or located in the burbs, want a store with high amounts of "affordable housing" on top of it? Doesn't strike me as a good business decision...anybody have a thought on that?

    June 1, eh? Anytime a deadline is set, it gets blown. Private development would never survive under these circumstances. Good thing the city machine is there to clear the drain again.

  6. Why do we have to continue to pay for Shiller/Holsten's failures?

    This is a joke. Holsten should sell the land to a developer who knows what he is doing. And by that I mean not building low income housing.

  7. To Anon 10:33,

    Being poor doesn't make you an animal or some kind of monster. If the low income residents promise to wear GAP fashions when in public, would that make it more acceptable for you? We really need to make an effort to separate our disdain for criminals from a wholesale disgust with poor people in general. Maybe some low income people can work at that Target and eventually move on. If you have any sense of history then you can rest assured that at some point there will be no poor people on the lakefront. It just may not happen in time for some of us to cash in on our short term condo gambles.

  8. Whoa, Logan Square...In what part of 10:33's post did that person say that poor people should be cleaned up ("wear GAP fashions"), or are criminals who prevent people from cashing in on their "short term condo gambles"?

    You have so much anger and I think it is clouding your ability to see what the argument against WY is. Uptown, as a city area, has a lot of subsidized housing. The point people are making about WY is that it is a very expensive subsidized housing effort which will basically enrich a developer, offer no long-term wealth-building options for the residents or offer them a chance to live in a more economically mixed micro-community.

    People in Uptown are not just "haters" as you seem willing to paint them. We really know a lot about the issue and we want best practices and no waste so that there will be more $$ to go around the city for affordable housing in general.

    It is so frustrating to even talk about WY or low income housing any more because it seems as if affordable housing proponents just want to villify anyone who has anything bad to say about any affordable housing plan. How does that make sense? Isn't it possible that some plans are better than others (for both residents and the community? Why can't we demand best practices without being called haters?

  9. Logan Square,
    No where was it said in the posting that you mentioned that being poor makes someone an animal or monster, or for that matter undesirable. Your words are polarizing.

    One can be a strong advocate for the poor while also insisting on maintaining best practice standards for housing. Please present your argument, but don't throw in red herrings to cloud up the issue.

  10. I don't think Uptown people are haters.

    "This is a joke. Holsten should sell the land to a developer who knows what he is doing. And by that I mean not building low income housing."

    This statement says to me that only developers that are ignorant or crazy would consider low income people in any plan. That statement stinks of hate, not me. Saskia, what you had to say actually made me pause and think. Not all Uptown people are thinking beyond their pockets or convenience. That's my point.

  11. "Being poor doesn't make you an animal or some kind of monster."

    No, and neither does being poor mean that you deserve to be warehoused in the type of housing that has been proven over and over not to work.

    That's why Chicago is tearing down towers of low-income rental housing all over the city, but Ald. Shiller and Holsten are recreating the failure in Wilson Yard, at prices that could buy the low-income renters condos in Lincoln Park for less money.

    Meanwhile, it's all coming out of the taxpayers' pockets with no oversight from any governmental body. And Shiller and Holsten keep going back to the trough for more.

    And every reputable agency that's been involved with the Wilson Yard housing has backed out because of the low standards that are involved.

    Are you starting to see why there are objections? It has nothing to do with opinions of the poor, and everything to do with the lack of planning and escalating prices of the existing "plan."

  12. I can't speak for 10:33 but as someone who has been around long enough to know how people chat on this board, I read their comment as "And by that I mean not building TOWERS of low income housing."

    There is actually decent support around here for a mixed income development...especially if there were a way to offer some ownership options. That is not what we are going to get. The construction costs will be high and then everyone who gets an apartment will be paying rent. They'll get a nice place to live (probably) but that is about it. With all of the money that will be spent, we could actually improve people's lots a LOT more.

    WY is a boondoggle and it won't appreciably change outcomes for the people who will live there or the surrounding community relative to the amount of money that will be spent. WY is bad public policy...plain and simple. Increasing affordable housing in the City, on the other hand, is not. I will be so bold as to say that the majority of Uptown taxpayers and property owners agree with these last two statements.

  13. I think we can all agree that the current model for the development is one that has proven unsuccessful in the past. The concentration of low income residences is the issue. I think ultimately they are going to end up with people who are very unhappy living in this place.

  14. Go back to Logan Square!

  15. So how would one find out where Crains got it's info on Target

  16. "Go back to logan Square!"

    That's classy Uptown residents for you.

  17. Anyone watching the City Council session on-line right now? Wilson Yard and the the biggest TIF boondoggle will be up.

    Google, Chicago City Clerk's office, click on meeting agenda and watch it now.

  18. I can't get sound. It is on TV anywhere. Can someone YouTube this?

  19. I think the site should be given to the control of the Uptown Update blog.

  20. What does affordable housing mean? Are these apartments or privately owned condos?

  21. "That's classy Uptown residents for you."


    "Those are" classy Uptown residents for you.

    I mean, if you're going to be a condescending interloper, you may as well be tight with your grammar.

  22. I'm just sick of people outside of our neighboorhood telling us what to do with Uptown.

    Spend all your energy negative energy in your own hood.

  23. Everyone is a NIMBY until they move to Uptown. It takes actually living here to see just whats going on here.

    Logan Sq. has no idea...

  24. Home ownership is the key to long term financial security. Are these apartments?

  25. Yes. They will be apartments. No home path to wealth (except for Holsten & the cronies.) Taxpayers pay twice for this overpriced mess. That is why everyone is saying that it would be cheaper to buy these people condos in Lincoln Park.

  26. Uptown: The place that takes on everyone else's responsibility to the poor, the homeless, the addicted and the mentally ill so that you don't have to.

    The least the rest of the City can do is not call us names while we are dealing the results of this widespread neglect. Have you no shame?

  27. Holy crap, the guy talking now (clerk?), must have been an auctioneer in a previous life. I can't keep up with him.

  28. Looking for Crain's source? Ask the reporter. They love to get feedback on stories. Uptown related stories consistently increases their site traffic....

  29. Did I miss the hearing or has it not come up yet?

  30. TIF in and of itself is not the evil as expressed on this blog. Granted, it is very often misused, and in Chicago, it is overused. But, I believe, it's not entirely accurate to say "$53 million of our tax money" is being used to build this. As I understand TIF, a baseline of tax revenue is established, and the additional revenues gained (the increment) for the next 23 years is put to use within the district. That pool of money can be borrowed against to pay for construction and other upfront costs.

    Now, you can (and I'd even say- should) quibble about how the TIF district is drawn; or how those funds are used within the district; or how good the developer is; or what mix of uses should be developed on the site; etc.

    As far as affordable housing. Like most things, its success or failure comes down to management, which I assume is covered in the development agreement. Do we even know how affordable these units will be? 60% of the median income? 80%? To equate these units with

    Someone commented on Target's business decision to locate where 178 units of affordable housing are. Retail is absolutely reliant on rooftops within a defined radius. There are plenty of studies (Michael Porter for one) that show poorer dense areas have the same purchasing power as wealthier spread out areas.

  31. So did they have the vote already? I turned on the council stream on for about the last 30 minutes of it and there was no mention.

    Wow is that stuff boring. If I have to hear the phrase "public way" one more time, man.

  32. I would just like to point out that when money is wasted from a TIF that means less money can be spent on everything else. One perpetually underfunded thing in almost all TIF projects is job training/enrichment. What was that saying about teaching a man to fish?

    If money going towards affordable housing is spent carelessly and that makes it so that there is less to spend on job training/enrichment, better public schools and economic development efforts that actually spur new economic activity, then all you have done is just relieved pent-up demand---not changed the conditions in the area.

    This is just such a mess.

  33. There needs to be a slogan for this TIF:

    Before me things create were none, save things
    Eternal, and eternal I endure.
    All hope abandon ye who enter here.

    I just wrote that myself. Or perhaps I had a wee bit of help from Dante.

  34. Paul you said...
    "But, I believe, it's not entirely accurate to say "$53 million of our tax money" is being used to build this."

    To clarify this.
    Yes the $53M is our tax money. Yes it’s being borrowed against but as the property tax increment come in over the 23 year period it goes to pay back the loan.

    The $53M is not the only tax money going into the project. Here are more sources:

    Phase I - Menu money that was supposed to go for ward repairs diverted to this project: $750,000

    Phase II - (Low Income Family Housing)
    IHDA Trust Fund 2,750,000
    LIHTC 17,171,484

    Phase III (Low Income Senior Housing)
    DOH HOME 6,500,000
    LIHTC 12,711,786

    The whole state paid when we all had to bail out the CTA when the CTA land was sold for 1/4 it’s value.

  35. Is the term "affordable housing" defined anywhere w/ WY? People are posting about percentages of median income. Is that for the country, county, city, or neighborhood? I think, depending on what your sample is, it would vary greatly. Plus, are there enough of us 'bad apples' to skew the results?

    And Paul, I commented on the business decision of Target placing a store under towers of housing. Thank you for the answer.

  36. affordable housing is calculated as % of area median income. For WY I believe it would be % of metropolitan area Chicago median income.

  37. "Target. I've received two e-mails asking about the status of the Target store, and the sentence which says the company "has agreed to contribute nearly $33 million to build its store, which the Minneapolis-based retailer would own." The source of that is the redevelopment agreement, and a source familiar with the development."

    The above quote is from the author, Thomas Corfman. There is a comments section on the side of the article on Crain's website. It sounds like he's read/seen the redevelopment agreement or his human source (Holsten's office or Shiller's office) just referenced it to him. Interesting, either way.

  38. This is NOT about the housing, this is about Shiller and Holsten doing what they want to make money and keep back room promises.

    Uptown current housing stock and the Wilson Yard housing:

    Current Uptown housing stock:
    -Almost 6,000 subsidized units (don't you think at least 80 of these apartments are vacant)

    Wilson Yard proposed housing
    - 80 Units
    - Cost $480,000 per unit
    - 83%, or approx 63 units, will be for extremely poor and very poor
    - Of these, 16 units are guarenteed for CHA folks moving out of the CHA housing being torn down everywhere else in Chicago

    So do you get it? Shiller and Holsten don't really care if there are 80 vacant apartments already available in one of the 6,000 units Uptown already has.

    We have more subsidized housing units in Uptown than most of projects being torn down because they were a really bad idea

  39. Has there been any discussion or promises as to who will get these apartments? Are the ones that are not going to displaced CHA folks going to current Uptown residents either in subsidized housing or who qualify but are unable to get into subsidized housing?

  40. The other residents have to be from outside of Uptown - you know, Helen has to strengthen her voter base! Get them in there, then threaten them to vote for her or else they lose their new apartment. She's been doing this for years.

    And I can just guess that this is not the last "project" she will cobble together before 2011.

  41. It doesn't make sense for TIF money to be spent on low income housing if it is not for people who currently live in the TIF zone but don't have access to quality affordable housing.

    Could someone explain the logic behind the affordable housing in terms of the TIF as it has been proposed...setting aside the general statement that affordable housing is a "good thing"?

    I'd really like to understand the rationale.

  42. Kas,
    Definitions ... median income... etc. are all moot when there is no MINIMUM income requirement. There’s a ceiling but no floor.
    Residents can make 0 income.
    A study of the "low income housing tax credit" (which WY is) housing across the US shows that the median income is around $10,000.

  43. People who make less than $10,000 a year is the modal income for Uptown according to the 2000 census.

    For people who remember their high school statistics, the mode is the "most frequent" number in a distribution.

  44. I still can't get past how much one of the units in the low income housing develoopment is going to cost! Almost $337K for a 1BR/1BA apartment?!?!? $447K for a 2 or 3 BR? Here in Uptown!? My 2BR/2BA apartment didn't even cost that and it was a gut rehab. Can someone explain this because it just burns me up. ESPECIALLY knowing TIF money is being used to pay for it.

  45. This is off topic but it may shed light on who will eventually live in the WY towers. When 1207 Leland was proposed for renovation to become low income "affordable" housing, the community was told that there would be a requirement for drug testing. What the community wasn't told was that the requirement was that the residents be drug dependent with no desire for treatment. It was billed as a project for those hard to place in CHA housing. I'd imagine that many if not all of the people who end up living in Wilson Yard towers are either a) drug dependent or b) have criminal records. Since there is no floor to the income levels, nobody will need to show any reportable income. (with the exception, of course, of welfare, LITC's, etc.)

  46. I guess the thought is that they might be able to get jobs at Target? Unfortunately, some of the powers in Uptown have a very romantic view of "the poor." Some people simply have multiple barriers that prevent them from becoming self-sufficient. That doesn't mean that society doesn't have some responsibility for them or that programs shouldn't be developed to help them...

    Unfortunately, some people just aren't ready to take advantage of things that exist to help them. The lack of an income "floor" bothers me a bit. Ideally, we should all want to create a thriving community where people who are trying to turn their lives around and people who are simply of modest means are integrated into the community and are one...and can develop something called "collective efficacy."

    WY is just grossly incompetent public policy even if you are willing to say that the money should be diverted towards this purpose. It is a true shame.

  47. Target is NOT coming. Sit tight and wait for Holsten to hit the city up for the $33 million.

  48. So HOW do we go about getting this publicized more?!? How do we get someone to look into this further? Any hints from someone more familiar with how things work in Chicago...please?


    Start a fund and get people to donate. They will. It is the only way to stop it. It will probably go to an oversight comittee with the state. Thats how you will win. The Guv is not a rubber stamp for the Mayor.

  50. "Almost $337K for a 1BR/1BA apartment?!?!? $447K for a 2 or 3 BR? Here in Uptown!? My 2BR/2BA apartment didn't even cost that and it was a gut rehab. Can someone explain this because it just burns me up"

    Holsten/Shiller don't care how much it costs because we the TAX PAYERS are footing the bill for construction.

    If Holsten had to turn around and sell these things it would cost much less to build. Not only are we paying for construction we are paying Holsten as well.

  51. Exactly right 8:46. Can you imagine how much these units would have to cost if they were being sold market-rate? If $447,000 is the developers cost...the actual sales price would probably have to be around $475,000-$550,000 just to make it worth a developers time. And, for that price you would be getting high end appliances, granite countertops, spa baths, nice hardwood floors and moldings, etc. Do you think there is any chance that these units will look like that?

    Time for an injunction. I am in. Everyone in Illinois likes to talk a good game about being for "smart government" "no waste" and "no corruption." Let's see it!!!

  52. Okay, if the 51 people here donated $50.00 you would get your injunction. Start the fund and I will donate $200.00

  53. Could someone point me to the project details for WY? A couple of people have refered to phase I, II, III, and IV and to the prices per unit- i'd be interested in reading that. is it on the web somewhere?

  54. I am in and I will be prepared to be called all sorts of nasty names. Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me. All I want is fair representation, no waste and public policy based on best practices. UNC or whatever---start it rolling...people will stand up and get involved!

  55. Start e-mailing the Trib, Sun Times etc....

    I have but we need to show enough people care about this. Please e-mail call and call and call.

    We need to expose further than UU. Love it but we need bigger media outlets

  56. Wow - How many days until the next election? Can we get a countdown on this board - I bet 50 bucks it will not be finished in time for the next election...


  57. I'm starting a new club called the POUR, or Pissed Off Uptown Residents. So stop picking on the POUR, Helen Shiller!

  58. "I'm starting a new club called the POUR, or Pissed Off Uptown Residents. So stop picking on the POUR, Helen Shiller!"

    I like it. But seriously, how do we start a group to raise legal fees to file an injunction? This TIF has broken all the "rules" that have been set in place for TIFs. If I had the background to put such a group together I would.

    Last time the UNC had a meeting about WY, 300 people attended, so we should be able to raise enough $$ to stop this before it's too late.

  59. Wilson Yard is a living example of massive TIF abuse at the taxpayers' expense.

    The complexity of this mess, the lies, the failure by Shiller and Holsten to honestly admit that Wilson Yard is a catastrophic failure, is one of the most cowardly displays of of how an elected politician and private developer can screw the taxpayers and their community.

    LEARN MORE about the history of Wilson Yard at,

    Go to Wilson Yard and click here.
    Since this is a blog format, scroll to the end and read up.

    Be prepared to be REALLY PISSED OFF

  60. i took your advice 12:16 and went to From reading everything there about wilson yard, this was the most troubling.

    "A reknowned ULI (Urban Land Institute) planner reviewed the plan. His critique clearly states, "The (Wilson Yard) development is a future slum for Uptown. The current design is deadly for neighborhood safety and building a vibrant retail area. There is no active street frontage and without it, the street becomes a place for crime."

  61. What is interesting about this TIF process is that it is following the exact same game plan the Daley-Shiller team executed with the Dept of Planning to give Challenger Park to the Cubs.

    First, the phony Dept of Planning surveys to people chosen by the alderman who don't live in the neighborhood and ignoring the pages of surveys and petitions independently submitted by the block clubs.

    Second, the phony alderman appointed task force that operates in secrecy and that demands certain elements be included in the plan.

    Third, the constant changes to the plan with the city and alderman giving out contradictory information with no concrete plan available to the community upon FOIA request.

    Fourth, the assurances that the community demands will be met by a worthless contract that the city will never enforce against itself. (Tactic also used for Labor Ready.)

    The outsiders being given their goodies upfront with money running out to do the community benefits that are also part of the plan. (Think of Shiller saying that Wilson Yard will be executed in stages while it is being bankrupted and mortgaged to the hilt with bonds issuances for the next decade.)

    No follow through with promised benefits for the deal that is renewable. How much does anyone want to bet that Holsten asks for an extension to this 23 year TIF?

    Study the Challenger Park History and you can see the Wilson Yard future.

    Crain's Greg Hines, Where are you????? You reported on the Challenger Park mess while you were a reporter in this neighborhood years ago.

  62. Earlier posters, you're proving how smart informed people really can work for the good of their community. Thank you.

    Facts about TIF abuse, the mayor and alderman have 100% control of more than $500 million in the TIF pots. Wilson Yard, Challenger Park are two prime examples of how citizens are EXCLUDED from the process.

    Facts about TIF abuse, you pay for them, you have NO SAY in them.

    Facts about TIF abuse, Daley and his 50 cronie alderman have created more than 140 TIFs. Why do you think taxes are going through the roof? Millions are syphoned off from the tax base.

    Facts about TIF abuse, one way to give TIF power back to the citizens paying for them is TIF reform and TIF lawsuits.

    Facts about TIF abuse, if you think it's bad now, wait until Daley ramps up for his mega-baby,

    Get informed.
    Get organized.
    Get the word out to neighbors.
    Get a lawyer.
    Get going.