Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wilson Yard Construction Update

Passing by the Wilson Yard site this afternoon we noticed way more activity on the housing side (above) versus the Target side (below).


  1. Helen better hurry up and get this done before the lawyers get involved.

    The mayor certainly won't be happy having his Olympic balloon deflated if he's got nowhere to transport the south-siders he plans on bulldozing to make the Olympic committee happy.

  2. Great point YO. I lived in Atlanta for years and they did the same thing before the 96 games.

  3. Yes, hurry up! Just dump all of the city's "problem" people in Uptown and nobody will notice. Plus, more voters for Helen in 2011!

  4. Hey, what's wrong with poor people having the opportunity to take advantage of location, location, location?

    Uptown's served by el and bus lines that make it easier to get to a downtown service job, or further north to Evanston or Skokie. More motivated types can even bike and walk downtown or northward. Many of these people you discount, despite their low income status, truly do want to work.

  5. I don't believe it's the working poor who'll benefit from WY. If anyone with both intelligence and ambition would have bothered to put even a modicum of effort into developing this parcel, I'm certain real/ long-term jobs could have been generated. Property values (and taxes) could have been increased instead of decreased.

  6. @ billyjoe

    Sounds like you're saying that poor people will never get an opportunity unless the government forcibly resettles them. I see the nanny state mentality is alive and well. It's done such a good job with the poor over the last 50 years... look at Chicago's zero-poverty rate, world-class schools, abundant jobs, shall I go on?

  7. I don't see where BillyJoe was saying anything of the sort. He was just pointing out that location benefits shouldn't be restricted to the wealthy.

    The rest is your own dialog.

    Everything doesn't have to be so black and white. Several issues are at play and the answer - and the definition of the problem - is up to interpretation.

    "If anyone with both intelligence and ambition would have bothered to put even a modicum of effort into developing this parcel, I'm certain real/ long-term jobs could have been generated."

    isn't worth commenting on.

  8. Then Billyjoe should be advocating to have them move to Evanston. You know and billyjoe knows that it's irritating when people outside the ward are focused on affordable and subsidized housing in Uptown while they conveniently forget to focus on their own neighborhood.

    Can you say hypocrite?

  9. "Everything doesn't have to be so black and white. Several issues are at play and the answer - and the definition of the problem - is up to interpretation."


    While Socrates was over there interpreting the problem of the answers definition a fence was being built today around Dearborn Wholesale today. God bless the doers and not the talkers and..um..cough "thinkers" like BJ and d.

  10. the definition of the problem - is up to interpretation.

    Not so much.

    The problem is that tax payers were lied to about the use of the WY TIF.

    TIF money was never discussed as being subject for use as housing subsidy.

    I'm not quite sure how anyone could be unclear on this matter.

  11. Someone with an inkling of common sense here please explain to me how living in Uptown is a "location advantage" over the southside? The Redline costs the same if you board at 95th/Dan Ryan or Wilson/Broadway. The cities biggest bus depot is on 79th/Vincennes because their are more routes down there. Are their really more service jobs in the North subs than their are in the south subs? For starters the largest mall in illinois is in the South suburbs!!

    Have you ever seen how nice (if kept up right) and HUGE most of the homes in Auburn, Gresham, Englewood, SouthShore are?? With yards to boot. All these neighborhoods of which took a huge DUMP when they were inundated with the displaced Taylor Homes people (especially South Shore).

    ~People have to want to change. Changing someones location and offering them basically the same helps nothing.

    ~Now now holy moley "BJ" is more than willing to have the decent hard working poor that do make an honest effort come up and visit by him 9-5,M-F. It is the statistical fallout of the rest that he thinks 'WE' not himself should endure.

  12. Anyone know what happened at Wilson/Sheridan this evening? 2 cops on bicycles and 2 squad cars rushed to the McDonald's parking lot and firetrucks seemed to follow as well.

  13. Since you brought up the South Side, and the area down the street, I can speak on that.

    The only significant open space (in my area) is far away from the El, and even bus service would be difficult for those on a fixed budget.

    And talking about the “service jobs” (that apparently the poor are only qualified for; guess you didn’t see Pursuit of Happyness). Other than the service jobs on the North Side & Downtown would probably tip better, there are some other practical reasons why the suburbs may be too far away.

    If the people seeking jobs have children, daycare are usually open 12 hours at the most. If they have to travel 2 hours each way, they can’t afford ANY delays, which we know will happen due to rush hour, weather and well, the CTA. Wilson is much more central for other sources of employment & education, providing better access to downtown (where they COULD work, or go to school), as well as to the Purple &Yellow lines. Also, during rush hours, there is barely any room to move, so some of the North Side El stops would be better feeders, as there is more room. With Wilson Yard in particular, those residents wouldn’t be taking up sidewalk space waiting for a bus.

    Why don’t more North Side people move to the South Side (other than because it is majority African American)? Like you said, there are good homes there. In addition, the prices are far cheaper, parking is far better (the most we’ve had to walk was 4 buildings down), there’s cutlture, food , etc.

    And since the wards aren’t run by Shiller or Moore, you should be happy.

    As for Red Line access…Don’t forget – there will be a number of seniors. They need and deserve easier access to the EL as well as the bus (as it would be a more direct path to Weiss). They’re on fixed incomes, and may not be going out on public transportation every day, so the daily pass would be too much of a cost.

    If the Uptown Chicago Commission had truly supported efforts like Habitat for Humanity and really pushing FOR C-PAN units (rather than just a limp approval), and gotten grants to support things like financial literacy classes (or even just HOSTED trainings by other organizations, at minimal cost), they could have won enough support for their candidate to beat Shiller.

  14. I could have sworn that North Town Village was in an ideal geocentric location for housing, education, and child care to assist the working poor.

    I'm sorry though. I just got back from the year 2001. I couldn't find any plutonium. My Libyan sources went capitalist.

    Did I miss something? What's this Wilson Yard thing?

  15. When I looked real close at the picture I thought I saw my tax dollars at the bottom of that pit!

  16. "Why don’t more North Side people move to the South Side (other than because it is majority African American)?"

    First, there are plenty of area's on the South Side with diverse populations, not just "African Americans". Second, why would Northsiders (Or any "Siders") want to move to an area where they would be called "Yuppies", "Evil Condo Owners", & "Racist". We allready have that utopia in Uptown.

    "And talking about the “service jobs” (that apparently the poor are only qualified for; guess you didn’t see Pursuit of Happyness)."

    Wow nice to see you living in Fantasy Land. While Chris Gardner's story is a great one do you really think Pookie over at Dearborn is holding out for that day trader job? I also saw "Top GUN", maybe she can be a Naval Aviator. Maverick and Pookie!

    It's funny How James C in life does more positive for the poor and the community than Helen could imagine, yet as long as JP and his crew keep getting their handouts they will defend her to death.

  17. "You know and billyjoe knows that it's irritating when people outside the ward are focused on affordable and subsidized housing in Uptown while they conveniently forget to focus on their own neighborhood. . . . Can you say hypocrite?"

    In the part of Evanston where I live, one can start at the fancy and beautiful lakefront and within four or five blocks be in front of high rise residential mental health center with freaky looking but non-violent clients. Immediately south is a mixed income, mixed race neighborhood with Section 8 and other government funded housing, and a stone's throw north of the mental health center are historic $1million homes.

    It's a human vegetable soup and there are crime and social issues to deal with, but at least all residents in this area have easy access to public transportation, parks, schools, hospitals, the lakefront, shopping, jobs, etc.

    What I'm saying is that even though it's not perfect, the local enviroment is livable and workable and affordable for people from all walks of life. The absence of bars and taverns (an Evanston tradition created by NUs charter) mitigates social trouble, as does the less-dense population, but it could serve as a model for how a similar mixing of people and incomes might work in Uptown.

  18. billyjoe...

    I'm not trying to be snarky here but you left out all the shelters/soup kitchens Evanston surely hosts. I thought it odd you mention the density (less) issue yet you seeem to advocate increasing the density in Uptown.

  19. C'mon, BillyJoe---you are not seriously comparing Evanston to Uptown are you? I don't have time today but I suppose it would be a worthwhile exercise to not only compare Uptown to other Chicago neighborhoods but Evanston as well. Your lauding Evanston actually undermines your point. Getting a comparable mix to Evanston would mean more middle class people would have to come to Uptown. Unfortunately, the market alone won't bear that out even with the housing bubble collapsing. And, government housing programs are directed to the very poor. So how could you get truly middle income people back in Uptown? It is sort of interesting that since WY is not being funded exactly by HUD that we could be using TIF money to build housing for people who make the median area income (i.e., the middle class). However, the documents we have seen show that is the ceiling and not really the target population.

    I would go so far as to say that if we were 100% assured that the housing was going for mostly low-income seniors but only median-income earning families (in a co-op financial arrangement), a lot of the furor would be gone. I know I'd have a hard time opposing it. Maybe that is why the group is calling themselves "fix" Wilson Yard rather than "prevent" Wilson Yard. ?

  20. PS - I am not speaking for fixwilsonyard. I only offered my opinion. The housing points aside, WY has also turned me into someone who really supports TIF reform and who is additionally critical of the kind of "wealthfare" that Target will be getting. (Thanks, Hugh.)

  21. Let's cut the B.S. this is all about money. Uptowners who bought property within the last few years at inflated prices are worried their home values aren't going to increase in the short term with building of WY. Instead of getting rid of the "section
    8ers" WY will bring more and that spells disaster for home values and the prospect of selling a home let alone profiting off it in the short term.

  22. I call B.S. on Mondays.

    This has never been about getting rid of Sect. 8ers, it IS about not perpetuating the pattern of concentrated poverty.

    The reality of Uptown is it is a mix of all kinds of people, to our benefit in my opinion. There is Section 8 housing here. There are shelters. There are condo owners. There is Starbucks.

    Learning the lessons of history, however, means not repeating past mistakes, which is what I see in the Wilson Yard plan.

  23. I just can't wait until we let the courts decide. Any honest judge will stop WY in its tracks.

    In a million years, I don't think Helen ever saw a lawsuit coming. I will contribute to this lawsuit for as long as it takes to win. That land would have sat empty as long as Helen was in office if the folks at fix wilson yard hadn't stepped in.

  24. To be honest, I don't have any faith in the lawsuit at this point. What do they really want to accomplish> Do we really know?

  25. How much of Peter Holsten's personal wealth is invested in WY; how much of Helen's; how much of any individual investors'? When every other developer bails on the project; when state and federal housing doesn't support the project, to continue is either stupidity, sloth, malice and/or greed.

  26. Falco, what do we really want ot accomplish with a lawsuit? To avoid repeating it all on this thread, I would suggest going to Fix Wilson Yard's website and find out for yourself. Afterwards, please donate money.

  27. HM,

    That website doesn't really tell you anything besides that there were many changes made and Helen and Holsten are bad. And I have donated twice to FWY. So don't give me any sass!

    I am doing alot of personal research on this on my own time, and I haven't really seen anything that was blatantly illegal (besides some minor issues). I am an attorney. I have also uncovered much of the details regarding the TIF funding. Now I can see if what that funding went for is proper. (Not getting into details here.)

    I am not going to follow them blindly. Not my style.

  28. ah - a seeker

    let us dialog

    post your observations & conclusions & opinions

  29. If Daley can personally shut down an airport without any repercussions, I doubt filing a lawsuit will accomplish anything except waste more tax dollars. You can't stop the democratic machine in Chicago.

  30. Sassy,

    Sassy, you brought up a great point about the co-op financial arrangement suggestion. The group that’s protesting Wilson Yards has known for YEARS before Wilson Yards even came up that Housing was issue for people. Had they known the non-section 8 renters (the middle class you spoke of) that were forced out in Clarendon Park and other areas, and suggested your idea from the get go, and screamed loudest on that, it would have forced Helen Shiller to make sure the housing was in that category.

    But they missed that opportunity. Uptown Update published a piece noting how housing values grew 333% in the past decade and a half. With the market tanking & foreclosures rising, some are feeling a bit more sympathetic in the area of affordable housing.
    A better solution would have been more Habitat for Humanity –type housing, or programs offered by NACA, which really make sure that buyers are really going to be responsible, and truly helped in the process. But now that the land has been greatly overpriced, the “easiest” choice for housing is what’s on the table.

    Sassy (& Will), The Uptown Chicago Commission and its allies ignored those people, the middle class you spoke of, ignored those people as their buildings were becoming condoized, and just said “oh well, that’s the way the market works”, without even help in hosting an event to help them get C-PAN eligible. Now that they would be the type of person to contrast against the perceived future population of Wilson Yards, it’s too late for them to move back in.


    I know very well the area billyjoe is talking about. He mentioned all those things…the area at Lake & Chicago has Greenwood Care (like Wilson Care), 1st Presbyterian (which has the soup kitchen & other ministries), Lake Street Church (with a shelter) and a Salvation Army, among other things. Regarding density…it’s 2 buildings, similar in the types of populations as 4640 & 4645 N. Sheridan. However, they are MUCH smaller, and if spreading the population by the block, it’s actually same as other blocks in Uptown.


    There are plenty of areas where you would NOT be called names…there are a number of residents who are protesting a proposed Wal-Mart at 83rd near Vincennes…part of their plea is that they don’t want to “ruin” their “middle class” neighborhood.

    One of the reasons why James Cappleman’s position didn’t really draw in the swing vote was because that his current social work is not being done in the neighborhood, impacting neighbors. Sandra Reed was able to draw in people because she had relationships with people at the Habitiat Homes, 4640, Wilson Care. If 10% of the anti Shiller voters, the “community” had one such relationship, Shiller would have been out of office long ago.

    Also, Chip, if you knew some of the people that lived at 4640, you’d know that none are named “Pookie” (holy racial stereotype, Batman!), and that there are young people who are going to college (such as one going to U of I to be an actuary; others going into business, nursing, teaching). With college costs rising at a rapid rate, community colleges like Truman are also a solid way to cut costs in order to get a 4 year degree. The Chris Gardner example was to show that there are more than just services jobs that can be done, and if you read it again, it will also note the difficulties in getting out to those jobs that seem so plentiful in the south suburbs.

  31. falco, you are an attorney and you understand the importance of evidence. Have you spoken with the attorneys about the evidence they've gathered?

    I don't expect Fix Wilson Yard to show all their cards on a website. As George Bush Sr. would day, "It wouldn't be prudent!"

  32. I'm not sure what JP and billyjoe are saying...it sounds like they're admitting Evanston has a smaller concentration of shelters etc. Which was exactly my point... Less is more. If a lower density works better, why advocate for increasing it in one neighborhood which already has a such a high concentration?

  33. JP,
    Not to split hairs, but Chippie wasn't racially stereotyping your future nurses and Truman College students. "Pookie" is his (and now also mine, I must admit) pet name for the woman in front of Dearborn who sells magazines from 1992 and calls my dogs "fluffies." Though we differ on a lot of concepts, CD doesn't go out of his way to be racist just 'cuz.