Friday, December 12, 2008

The Gloves Are Off

By Lorraine Swanson, Editor

After months of fundraising and building its case, an Uptown community group made good on its vow to sue the City of Chicago and private developers involved in the Wilson Yard redevelopment project.

Fix Wilson Yard, which claims to represent more than 2,000 Chicago residents, announced at a press conference in front of the Daley Center that it had filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court on Dec. 3. The group maintains that significant abuses and violations of state laws took place in the creation of the Wilson Yard TIF District.

Central to the lawsuit is the Wilson Yard redevelopment on the site of an old CTA bus barn at Montrose and Broadway. Plans for the 6-acre parcel include more than 200,000 square feet of commercial and retail space, and two residential mid-rise buildings of low-income family and senior rental housing. The first phase of the project, an Aldi's supermarket, was completed last year. Construction started on the family and senior housing this fall and work is expected to get underway on the Target sometime in 2009.

The lawsuit also names the various limited liability companies set up by the project's sole developer, Holsten Real Estate Development. The firm's president, Peter Holsten, said he believed the residents' concerns were about the project's affordable housing component.

"This group has been very vocal for quite a few years," Holsten said. "They're primarily homeowners and condo owners who've convinced themselves that any affordable housing will decrease their property values." Continue Reading


  1. Did you see the comment after the article? I am going to have to start ignoring this kind of stuff or I am afraid that I am just going to lose it. Here are the excerpts.

    It is a fact that those who bought condos and townhomes in Uptown thought that they would have a Lincoln Park North.

    Someone out there has FACTUAL knowledge of the innermost thoughts of people buying a home? Whoa.

    Uptown is the only neighborhood in the city where regentrification has not and will not work.

    Again, is this another "fact" or something that you believe? And, why should we rely on the expertise of someone who calls it "regentrification"?

    There investments are not panning out as planned.

    To the contrary most people, unless they bought at the height of the market, should be doing ok in maintaining their property values. In this economy, that's not too bad.

    They speculated and lost. This is what they are angry about. They bought in for low prices expecting propery values to go skyhi and greatly increase their wallets.

    Again, is there some survey or something I don't know about? Any chance that some of these people were just looking for a place that they could live?

    ...and now for the hate finale...

    The thought of more help for the working poor with children is causing them great distress. low income housing at Wison Yards has them in a state of emergency. Shame on them! These people are part of humanity that puts us to shame. Shame on them!

    I'll just not comment on this last bit.

    Instead of making up facts, I would suggest proponents of the plan address some of the few indisputable & verifiable facts of this plan. Here's three to start with:

    1) Why did the CTA sell MONTROSE YARDS! at below market value and how is it possible that even with that the project is overly leveraged with TIF money?

    2) Why do the units cost more than what an upscale property for sale in this area would cost?

    3) Why was the most recent amendment passed without following the Open Meeting Law?

    Unfortunately, none of us has the option to just make this only about what we believe in and think we understand. It's complicated so we have to concede that point to anyone we disagree with. Making up facts and lobbing insults only further angers people and divides this community. I would think that people on both sides of the issue can at least agree that government waste is bad, government transparency is good and that we all should have equal rights before the law.

  2. Have to say it again: Promoting class warfare is a last refuge. Can't dispute the facts, or face them? Just yell "yuppie."

    Sassy, I agree with everything you've said. But when someone's mind is made up about the big bad folks who want a neighborhood that's safe, has real diversity, and actual retail options, they're just going to go to their safe haven: yell victimization and say it's class warfare.

    It's like that internet law that the first person who brings up comparisons to Hitler or Nazis automatically loses the argument. That's how I'm beginning to think of those who bring up property values out of the blue as an answer to real concerns about the WY "plan."

    It's a last refuge, a red herring to defend the indefensible.

    If the plan's so great, defend it -- rather than personally attack those who oppose it.

  3. I posted a comment to the article stating basically that the taxes that could have gone partially into the public programs that the low income residents say they are denied, that this money is being skimmed off by the city for their own purposes. It is not the evil condo owners that the low income people should be after, its the city who takes our tax money and only gives to corporations and friends...not to the residents of ANY income level! This comment was NOT posted by News Star...go figure!