Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lawsuit Filed To Fix Wilson Yard


December 3, 2008 -- BREAKING NEWS: WE HAVE FILED THE LAWSUIT. The day has finally arrived. Fix Wilson Yard issued the following press release this morning: click here.

For more information, please visit our new press materials page where you can find PDF files of two press releases we have issued today, as well as other materials.

And don't forget to come to our party tonight at Nick's Uptown where you can learn more details about our lawsuit and what's ahead. Nick's Uptown, 4015 N Sheridan, Wednesday, December 3rd, 7:30pm - 9:30pm ($30 cover, open bar).

Now more than ever we need your help. You can make an online donation here or email us about volunteer opportunities. Thank you.

Learn More: Please visit to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. To learn more about the history and community's efforts visit and click on the Wilson Yard link. Thank you again for your interest and participation in the efforts to Fix Wilson Yard.

Update: Molly Phelan of FixWilsonYard appeared on "Outside The Loop" radio during November for a nice in-depth follow-up to her September appearance. Listen to it here (Molly's segment starts just prior to the 7:00 minute mark).


  1. Wow that was fast Uptown Updater!

  2. Where can one read teh actual complaint, not just the press release? I would like to see the legal arguments behind this beyond just "we don't like it."

  3. I don't think even the press release said just "we don't like it." Where are you getting your direct quotes from, Sneki?

  4. Where can one read teh actual complaint

    Any lawsuit that's been filed is available to the public (unless there's a gag order for some reason).

    You can go downtown and request a copy in a couple days, as soon as it's been put into the system.

  5. This is fantastic news! Congratulations to all involved in the FWY effort!

  6. The Chicago Tribune is looking on a map to see where Uptown and Wilson Yard is at. I got $10, they will not even touch this

  7. Sneki, I haven't seen the actual complaint available anywhere but go to "press materials" on the Fix Wilson Yard site and the second press release has more detailed information. Given the summary they offer there, the complaint seems to focus on the "but for" argument laid out in the downstate court case, the faulty evidence used to establish the TIF in the first place and the violation of the open meetings act which resulted in risk being shifted entirely to taxpayers. It seems that last bit will be their basis for asking for an injunction?

    I know you were looking for something more than that but I thought I would share anyway.

  8. Go to the Gapers Block website. They have a link to a PDF of the lawsuit I believe.

  9. Funny, iwishinevercamehere! I believe they will cover it. They'll just do it poorly. Through my magic crystal 'o' Uptown I can predict the future. This will be the template for all of the articles:

    1) Lawsuit has been filed.

    2) Basic description of the lawsuit with reference to Uptown as "formerly arson-plagued" but now "diverse" and "gentrified." Some metaphor for "battle" will be thrown in, foreshadowing the statements at the end of the article.

    3) Shiller, Holsten, Walsh Construction, and Target will have no comment.

    4) Maybe a quote from Ald. Burke or someone at the City saying they either know nothing about it or that the lawsuit is baseless and that the community has already had their say because the Wilson Yard plan went through a process of "extensive community input."

    5) Some quotes from key players in Fix Wilson Yard related to the lack of community input and lack of oversight of TIF districts and TIF funds.

    6) The technical points of the people from Fix Wilson Yard will be ignored by one or two people from an activist group (ONE, Northside Action, COURAJ, Uptown People's Law). Instead, they will state that affordable housing is an important issue---now more than ever---and that we will not end homelessness if we do not increase our stock of affordable housing units in this city. They may also cite racism and people's stereotypes about low-income housing developments. The article will end on this NIMBY-or-not premise.

    Subsequent update articles will repeat the template and there will be no later editorial attempt to flesh out these pieces of the story. If there is an editorial, it is likely that it will only be someone's attempt to grandstand and show how progressive they are. But, what will never happen is for for anyone to look at the distribution of affordable housing throughout the city and suggest that some other ward's TIF money should be used for such a project. What will never be challenged is the system of power that is causing WY to turn out the way it is.

    If someone surprises me with some intelligent journalism and/or commentary that befits this complex issue, I'll be the first to say 'mea culpa' but I am certainly not going to hold my breath.

  10. "we don't like it" suit

    God I am still laughing at that one.

    Good job FWY! Good job Molly!

  11. Well, the next several weeks could be very critical to our cause. Please read the newspapers carefully and submit letters to the editor. This community will need to inundate them with our viewpoints for EVERY item they print. If there are factual errors, correct them with good information. If there is no viewpoint from the actual taxpayers who are paying for this boondoggle (that would be all of us here) than we need to write in with our views. As much as possible use solid fact to back up any opinion you may have. It is vital that we come across as well educated on this mess and not as some classist, homeless hating mob. This is our opportunity to show that we are not evil condo owners who hate the homeless and mentally ill, but are a group of people who insist on integrity in our local government and responsible use of our tax money.

    Yay Fix Wilson Yard!

  12. Is there FWY funds to hire Marilyn Katz?

    I'd just hire the machine's people before they do.

    Oh crap. Retainers.

  13. Is there FWY funds to hire Marilyn Katz?


    Of course what is not funny is the prospect of the city's (read: our) tax dollars that will be used to defend against this lawsuit. Ditto for the PR machine that is often rolled out. Marilyn Katz really whipped things up with the Children's Museum!

  14. Sorry, my quotes around "we don't like it" were my commentary of part of the press release that just talked about TIF being higher than guidelines (while I'm supportive of the cause, I was less than impressed with the release). That's why I wanted to read the full doc, to understand the actual arguments not the snippet that goes into a newspaper article.

  15. Sneki,

    If I may ..., the gist behind the lawsuit has more to do with the adherence (or lack thereof) of the WY TIF to current legislation controlling TIFs, than anything else.

    Shiller, and by extension, the city, have violated the law as it pertains to the use of TIFs.

    Or, rather - that is the opinion of FWY and the lawsuit has been filed to have the issue settled.

    It's a very sad day when the tax payers have to resort to suing the city to ensure that they're not getting screwed ... but, there ya' have it.

  16. I don't know how many of you ever tried to stop something like this. I once tried stopping an SSA. These things are virtually impossible once they take hold.

    Molly was on her A-game today. The community not only owes her support, they need to dig deep and help fund this effort. It's the season of giving and I can't think of a better organization to donate money to at this time. We need to stop this TIF abuse. NOW. Molly can't do it alone.

  17. I'm sure the next volley from Shiller and her crew will invoke the referendum that passed for more affordable housing!

  18. woot! go! go Molly! The people shall be heard.

  19. I'm sure the next volley from Shiller and her crew will invoke the referendum that passed for more affordable housing!


    If so, it would certainly demonstrate how weak the pro-WY argument is, on legal grounds.

    A non-binding referendum that came about via an electorate cherry-picked by community organizers allied with the alderman's office isn't relevant to the argument and should be quickly dismissed.

  20. ...and should be quickly dismissed.

    I will be interested to see which professional journalist falls into the trap of failing to fact-check on that one and deploys the referendum as a data point in an article as if it were some kind of survey. Boy, that would be embarrassing for both the writer and his or her editor.

  21. Sassy - I doubt that I'd consider these guys "professional"; but, ask and ye shall receive


  22. A non-binding referendum that came about via an electorate cherry-picked by community organizers allied with the alderman's office isn't relevant to the argument and should be quickly dismissed.

    There's an error here. I'll correct the spelling.

    A non-binding referendum that came about via an electorate cherry-picked by the Service Employees International Union allied with the alderman's office isn't relevant to the argument and should be quickly dismissed.

    I will attempt to buy Ms. Katz loyalty away from the SEIU. This might take about three times whatever you contributed to FWY.

    Know any, radical sons of industrial titans, with grudges against the system that fed them? I need about 10 William Ayers to make this work.

  23. You are on a roll today, Murray! Has anyone contacted Target lately? Although there is no letter of intent (?) the zoning changes Hugh dug up seem to point in the direction of them coming. Surely they will want to make a statement about the lawsuit to their potential customer base here. With everything going against retailers these days, the last thing Target needs is any hostility surrounding a new store opening.

  24. it's more than a zoning change, it's a deed & I didn't dig it up

    Cook County Recorder of Deeds doc # 0829440161

    10/15/08 an LLC controlled by Holsten sold the future store to an LLC controlled by Target for $6.675M

  25. BTW I think most if not all of that $6M will be made up by taxpayers via federal tax credits to Target

  26. In 2004 the whole chunk of land sold for 6.6 mil. With this deal along he's broke even.

  27. yeah, there is this odd coincidence in the $6M range between the CTA price and what Target paid, and the federal tax credits recently secured

    kinda makes you say hmmm

    federal govt -> Target -> Holsten -> CTA

    if you were prone to that kind of thinking, you might be tempted to think the CTA asking price was determined, not so much by what the land was worth, but by what tax credits Target thought they could wrangle from the feds, and you might even think the single biggest delay in this whole project was Target dragging out pushing the tax credits thru federal channels

    that is, if you were prone to that kind of thinking...