Wednesday, July 8, 2009

LEN: Ald. Shiller Wants Even More TIF Money

Shiller Wants Mo’ Money for Wilson Yard TIF District


Ald. Helen Shiller appeared before Uptown Business Partners board members and SSA #34 commissioners seeking their approval for another amendment to the Wilson Yard TIF agreement on Wednesday afternoon.

The alderman is proposing adding another amendment seeking an additional $112 million in tax dollars to be added to the Wilson Yard TIF budget and acquisition authority for several properties south of Wilson Avenue.

[...] Shiller is also seeking acquisition authority to use Wilson Yard TIF funds to acquire three vacant lots on the west side of the 4400 block of Sheridan Road, and the former Salvation Army building at 1025 W. Sunnyside and adjacent lot. The Sheridan Road properties will be developed into parking for businesses east of Broadway. She also wants to turn the former Salvation Army building into a green technology center. Land can be purchased under the state’s TIF laws.

Read the entire article at Lake Effect News.

Update from LEN: "CLARIFICATION: Ald. Helen Shiller’s office contacted us this morning and asked that we make a clarification on the proposed Wilson Yard TIF amendment. Shiller is proposing increasing the original Wilson Yard TIF budget to $112 million in 2009 dollars. The original TIF budget for Wilson Yard passed in 2001 was approximately $58 million in 2001 dollars. The budget adjustment for $112 million reflects today’s dollars. We regret the confusion."


  1. Pick one:

    - What businesses are saying that they need this parking? Smoke Dreams? Check Exchange? Popeye's? Dollar Store?

    - What about the parking at Target?

    - Maybe if we had a decent L stop we wouldn't need more parking.

    - Doesn't increased traffic hurt the environment?

    - Funding a non-CTA school with TIF money?

    - Does she dream these stupid ideas up on her own, or does she have someone helping her?

    Speaking of which:

    - What/Who are these non-profit groups, specifically?

    - Why are all of her amendments to this TIF cloudy until it's too late to do anything about them?

    - Can Helen accomplish anything without digging into this TIF?

    - Again, what is she hiding?

    - When do the people who live here get something in return for their money? Like .. safety. Clean stations. Crazy stuff like that?

    - The city and state are crying poverty. Social services are being threatened. We've got an ~10% unemployment rate and Helen's borrowing more money to fund something that certainly isn't a priority; doesn't increase tax revenue and sure as hell will not create any significant job numbers - or even produce jobs that will generate a living wage.

    Take. Take. Take. Take. Take. Take.

  2. I cannot believe what this women is up to now. I do not trust her but if it is what it says it would it could have some added value to our area. Election time sure is near. It won`t change my mind to vote her out what ever she does now. Too little too late............

  3. I want TIF money too. What the Helen?!

  4. I'm with YO. I think Uptown would be a much better place if public funds were used for the public good such as primary and secondary education and facilitating private enterprise with infrastructure and consistent rules and regulation.

    Our Alderman has no place buying land/space for a 'Green Technology Center'. What does she know about green tech firms? Why would they choose Uptown versus a miriad of more attractive alternatives? Green is sexy, Uptown for green tech investment is not.

    Private enterprise unencumbered by political interference could find better uses for the proposed sites. If Shiller was remotely capable or the idea remotely servicable it would not require public funds to be diverted from the public good.


  5. Green Technology Center, my ass. That's just something she came up with because she thought it would sound good while she has her hand out. You don't just create a technology center out of thin air and there have been larger attempts at the city and state level to create innovation centers in and around Chicago that have all failed. Helen will figure out how to do it right, this time. Sure.

    I have no doubt that if she gets more money she will do whatever she wants with it. And, that, of course, will be different than what she publicly stated she would do. I can just see it now: repeating the whole cycle of fake surveys and made up community meetings that she will claim took place and supported whatever she pulls out of her ass.

  6. Parking for businesses east of Broadway?

    The businesses east of Broadway, few thought they be there, generally have plenty of parking options and once the Target gets built there will be another large parking lot nearby. Work something out with Dearborn Grocers if parking is a problem. They have a large underused parking lot.

    I smell varmint poo poo.

    Bovine ca ca.

    Here's a potential scenario:

    The city that works for some acquires said properties using the magic TIF money.

    Shiller's "green idea" doesn't come to fruition.

    Said properties are then kept away from the private market and turned into over to some subsidized housing or social service agencies. Possibly a government office of some type too.

    Someone might want to link to some stories regarding the proposed government building that never got built across from the Starbucks on Wilson.

    This is more TIF BS and needs to be stopped.

  7. Dang, we keep getting in situations where we must raise money to file lawsuits to protest various stunts put on by Helen. I'm having a hard time affording all this.

  8. This woman never stops! Is she ever going to take public input as to what we in the community feel is best? What am I thinking, of course she won't. She deems her radical views as being best for our community. She will not stop until she has truly turned this neighborhood into complete low to extremely low housing and services. What does she have against having a thriving prosperous neighborhood that non public aid people will want to come to?

    We must keep throwing wrentches into her plans and keep them delay until we can vote her out! She obviously didn't/doesn't get the message tax paying voters in this community have sent her via her less than 700 vote scrape by in the last election and from the Wilson Yard lawsuit. Who is running against her in the next election? We need to start rallying around them now!

  9. $112M for a parking lot and a tiny fish farm? What don't I get about the purpose of TIFs?

  10. Great post, Yo!
    How much more money can this woman spend before we boot her out of office??? Seems she's on a mission to suck the evil condo owners dry!!!
    What incredible nerve she has!

  11. Parking. On top of the parking she's already giving Truman.

    Not a frigging penny for the decaying, non-handicapped-compliant, unsafe, urine-soaked Wilson Yard el stop.

    Then 112 MILLION DOLLARS for a "green" center with fishies and veggies.

    Does this woman have a clue that parking and driving is less "green" than public transportation? Or that the elderly and handicapped she purports to "protect" might not be able to use the Wilson L because they can't, because it's non-compliant??

    Mark my words, this is all pretty words and if she gets her way, it'll end up as more low-income housing.

  12. Can any one say who is the person that will run against Shiller so we can start to get behind them as we need to start early to get this tyrant Shiller out once and for all. I am willing to make a donation now for my support.......

  13. What else can you do with $112M?

    Look at what the city has planned for their share of the Stimulus pie to see exactly how far you can stretch $112M:


    Note the $26M dedicated to rail station and facility improvements.

    Note the +$6M going towards demolishing old public housing units.

    Note, too - there's nearly $0.5B going towards public housing (and not any towards Uptown, since, I guess, the tax payers have that covered - including green technology centers)

    Whatever Helen has up her sleeve, this borrowing against the Wilson Yard TIF needs to be stopped, now; before she's allowed to escape into the vapor of elusive paperwork and intellectually numbing double speak (not to mention her self-protectionist vote to deny the IG the ability to investigate Council members).

    In short: Not only are 46th ward tax payers being taxed TWICE and getting absolutely nothing in return, we're damn near powerless to prevent it.

    Oh, and don't forget, she wants to redistrict the Wilson Yard TIF to do whatever it is that she wants to do at Maryville.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  14. What about the Uptown Theater? I think it's in the Mary Ann Smith's ward but I'd rather see my tax money go towards renovating that beautiful theater than more parking!

  15. Uh...WTF?!! Is this a very late April Fools joke?

    This HAS to be stopped. She's talked to 100 people about this? My @ss. This is all a sham to acquire more property for low income housing. She's nuts.

  16. "The Sheridan Road properties will be developed into parking for businesses east of Broadway."

    “The lots came from a request from the chamber (Uptown Business Partners) to use TIF money to acquire them for parking,” Shiller said.

    So let me guess - the request for parking came from Paul Collurafici - owner of the Tattoo Factory - who has a position on the (useless) chamber. Its not enough to get $250,000 to relocate your business, but now you want free parking?

    This is really disgusting.

  17. I wonder if we can get CTA on our side to fight Shiller on this one. Why should CTA, which is already struggling, alone finance infrastructure improvements at Wilson & Lawrence. The neighborhood wants it and apparently we have available TIF funds. CTA is connected to Daley. They may be able to stop her, since apparently we sadly cannot.

    Also, if she is teaming w/ non-profits and/or contractors, there NEEDS to be an open bidding process. Uptown residents deserve a say before a SouthSide non-prof.

  18. I am confuse that a judge said that the statute of limitation for the Wilson Yard TIF was over but the alderperson can amend the Wilson Yard TIF agreement anytime she wants. I would argue that the Wilson Yard TIF statute of limitation would be the full 23 years it stays active. It seems all the terms can change or admend making it a open and active agreement. This is the crazy raw deal ever, the cost and the plan has both changed.

  19. Always remember, that 112M in new TIF money is 112M that won't go to our schools and local infrastucture. She's taking money away from school children to fund her urban dream. That my friends is a powerful message. Come election time we need flyers showing the children who won't get new books, whose educations will be short-circuited by Helen's fanatical philosophy.

  20. I can't wait until the fundraising drive for school supplies for local CPS students. As everyone knows, the block clubs and residents (including "evil condo owners") are extremely generous and always have been. Ald. Shiller's office distributes the supplies (and I'm sure takes full credit for collecting them). Perhaps with every donation, we should attach a sticker of a fish farm, a low-income high-rise, and a parking lot, and say this is what the money that SHOULD be financing school supplies is going to in the 46th Ward instead.

  21. Well, I support this latest scheme wholeheartedly. I'm going to print up a bunch of t-shirts proclaiming "Fish Farms for the 46th Ward!" right away and hawk them on the corner of Montrose and Broadway. Hey, my own microbusiness. And I didn't even have to use that smart new business incubator (coming soon to a housing project near you...).

  22. Sooooo...if there's an increase in projected tax revenues, Shiller feels an obligation to spend it? Basic city services are underfunded, and she wants NEW projects? Almost every day presents a new reason to get rid of her! If Uptown hadn't gentrified and the tax base hadn't gone up, none of her lame projects would have seen the light of day, and she would have been out years ago!

  23. WindyCityEagle says:

    She's taking money away from school children to fund her urban dream. That my friends is a powerful message. Come election time we need flyers showing the children who won't get new books, whose educations will be short-circuited by Helen's fanatical philosophy.

    I was at a Council meeting for the LaSalle TIF. The city actually trots out lackeys from CPS that state on the record that the LOVE TIFs and they don't lose a dime of money to them.

    I believe the state somehow makes up for a portion of the shortfall that the TIF siphon creates, but I don't know the specifics.

    Others may know how that works.

    But the point is that the city knows and understands all the arguments against the TIFs, and they come to meetings prepared to defend them.

    And when you stand up to ask questions during the public input portion of the meeting, two very large CPD officers will be right there, near the gallery.

    If you start to make things too uncomfortable for Council members or the the Mayor, you'll get escorted out of the chambers, and they'll ram through the TIF after they're done laughing at you.

    I saw it happen with my own eyes.

  24. I've never heard a community complain about increased parking availability before. BTW why would anyone want to give more money to the schools, why don't we just flush it down the toilet. We should privatize the school system and give vouchers so parents can send the children who want to learn to a good school.

  25. ihatemondays - the complaint against parking stems from the ton of parking that is going to be available at Truman, as well as "Target." In addition, Shiller is using "green technology" as a front for more social experimentation. If she was really all that "green" she would promote public transporation, rather than building more parking lots.

  26. the complaint against parking stems from the ton of parking that is going to be available at Truman, as well as "Target."

    Well, that ..., and no one can rightly think of which businesses these might be that are so starved for parking.

  27. The Chamber supposedly requested the parking. Think of the businesses around there (on Broadway across from WY) - and what owner(s) sit on the Chamber.

  28. I assume there is parking being built into the Wilson Yard structure. I wonder if there is actually enough. Perhaps the real reason for this additional parking is that it will be used as overspill for WY.

  29. With Daley and all these crooks in power Chicago is going to be another Detroit.

    I see the city going down the tubes.

    Can't wait to get out.

  30. Parking structures have got to be the city's grand new scheme for revenue! They restrict street parking and jack up the rates, then issue parking permits for residents and guests. More people in the Wilson Yard slum mean more parking dollars! City parking meters are sold off so there is no longer a continuing stream of revenue. Solution: more parking structures!!!!!!

  31. There is something fishy about this....

  32. R,

    I read the Daley bashing all of the time. I am pretty tired of it. The attacks on him are overblown. IMHO. Chicago will never be like Detroit. It was a one industry town.

  33. soon we will be hearing how the number one most requested item at the most extensive public series of charrettes ever was ...

    fish farm!

  34. “The lots came from a request from the chamber (Uptown Business Partners) to use TIF money to acquire them for parking,”

    reading between the lines, TIF money will be used to acquire the lots and GIVE them to BP/Uptown United

    they will OWN the "parking lots" until the economy turns and they can be redeveloped as condos

    of course a direct TIF cash gift to a NFP is not an elegible TIF expenditure, but a gift of land makes it all good

    Shiller is earmarking the property taxes of the future to ENDOW the NFPs that are her political base

  35. Shiller's WY TIF in its relatively short life is giving the Central Loop TIF, Chicago's oldest TIF, a run for its money as the most rewritten and the most cost overruns

  36. Per the amendment: I don't really care.

    I've grown weary of hearing about this particular TIF, as well as the term "TIF".

    Besides, she's once more planning on using tax dollars to build something that suits her needs/wants (and possibly those of her allies), and not the needs/wants of the greater community.

  37. Shiller going back to well for more public money for parking after publicly funding two massive parking garages:

    1. WY
    2. Truman

    ...prompted me to re-examine the operating agreement between Target, Holsten, and Holsten's other tenants, recorded last fall as document #0829440163. Look at the sketches in last dozen pages of the document.

    Holsten basically sold all the parking in WY to Target. I mean SOLD. Target owns outright most of the WY parking garage.

    There's parking in the basement and on the roof (2nd floor) of the Target store, and Target owns virtually all of it. Only a small corner in the NE corner of the basement, under the Target main entrance, is designated for "residential parking." It's not clear to me that there is even enough parking for the "family" and "senior" towers. It is very clear to me that there is no "neighborhood' parking.

    Most of what we know now as the "surface lot" will be eaten up because the plan is to turn that land over to the City to extend Sunnyside thru to the Truman garage.

    It appears the plan for the garage at WY may be to issue pass cards to a few lucky residents and requiring shoppers who want out to validate by getting a token with a purchase at Target.

  38. I for one am excited about the fish farm. I think it will be a fabulous aquatic addition to our neighborhood.

    What other city neighborhood can claim such a sought after amenity?

    Take that Lincoln Park.

    I think it's great that not only do our tax dollars subsidize Aldi, Target, parking for the Tattoo shop, subsidized housing, and now a freaking filet o fish farm.

    I see a T Shirt featuring Charlie the Tuna exclaiming the excitement and economic activity this watery delight will bring to Uptown.

    I picture busloads of tourists stopping in Uptown before a Cubs game to partake in the H2O nirvana that will be Uptown Fish.

    Thank you Helen Shiller. I salute you.

  39. Does anyone really believe that she wants "green" education center and parking for Uptown business?! We have no real need for parking structures. As I pass the businesses on Broadway is see tons of empty street parking. Shiller is using the need to purchase these properties as a smoke screen. She will purchase them then change her plans for these properties afterwards. She will turn them all into low to no income housing and social service agency offices. All we have to do is look at Wilson Yard - it went from mixed income property (condos to be purchased by upper and middle income people and rentals for subsidized families). Never, Never, Ever believe the words that come out of Shiller's mouth or the people in her office.

    "Ihatemondays" you are an idiot! Privatizing schools is not the answer. As high school teacher for CPS in one fo the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago I daily see that more funding is needed and we need to be allowed to more easily expell and permanently get rid of the students that cause trouble in our schools and schools like mine need to be given the same facilities and advantages that schools like Walter Payton receive (they get to hand select their students and get a beautiful fully update and techonologically advanced school). Teachers and staff there do not have to have convicted murderers in their classroom (yes my school had to take them). They don't daily get threatened and cussed out with nothing happening to the student because of the districts rules and telling us we are a neighborhood school we just have to deal with it. I have been physically assualted 3 times in 5 years and nothing happened to the students. However, I was disciplined for defending myself in one instance! I have also had experience with charter schools and other private schools and they are not receiving a proper eductation in 90% of these institutions. Restructering the districts discipline policies and funding policies of all schools is the answer. There are many students in my school with great potential and they are tired of the students that cause problems and are only there for a warm place to be in the winter and to get a free meal daily. These students deserve classrooms with updated technologies, ceilings and walls that don't have crumbling lead paint, windows that open in non air conditioned buildings, lockers that work, working restrooms, decent meals, etc. We have to fight the district to get things fixed every year and most of the time we get nothing (they spend them money for Walter Payton, Whitney Young, Northside College Prep - the selective enrollment schools). Take time to actual learn something about the school system and actually spend time in schools like mine. My school has excellent teachers and we work hard to educate our students while being surrounded by less than desirable conditions and having to deal with students with no desire to learn. What would you do with an employee that did not want to be at work, came late, was a no show a lot, cussed you out, threatened you, physically harmed you? You would fire them. Well we can't "fire" them, we are told we have to keep them and deal with it and we are blamed when they don't learn and pass their classes. Try teaching in a school like mine - you wouldn't last even a week!

  40. The bankers won't front the capital for any of these projects without the TIF ties. They're aware of how risky these ventures are especially when it comes to capital expenditures where the profits will get eaten up by logistical nightmares.

    You must stop the expansion of all TIFs. You must do everything in your power to stop the creation of new TIFs.

    Wherever Ms. Shiller goes, so too should you. Hound her with TIF questions. Every public appearance should be met with fierce opposition. Subject matters do not apply. What matters is that she be held accountable for never having to play defense.

  41. Buying land with public dollars - for surface parking lots? In an urban environment? That makes no sense. That's the opposite of urban planning.

    On land on Chicago's north side, blocks from the lakefront? That's absurd. The only reasonable way to add parking in our neck of the woods is as an accessory to a development project, parking in front of or behind retail or below condos.

    In Grant Park and around the City the City is getting out of the parking biz, in Uptown Shiller is jumping in?

    Using TIF money? That's an abuse, likely challengeable. A parking lot is the lowest assessment classification in Cook County, same as a vacant lot, 10%.


    Using TIF money to hold properties at the lowest tax base is truly thru the rabbit hole. As far as I know, this has never been done, even in Chicago, it's so silly on the face of it.

  42. Hopeless,

    I'm guessing if you are a writing instructor, it's of the ultra modern/creative type, eh? Paragraphs aren't bad once in a while. ;)

    And Would Helen really want a wacko Green Tech center? Of course she would. It's a long lost hippy dream. But you are probably right, she's starting off by proposing her dream scenario of creating a commune-ity, lib-paradise, indoor garden, but she'll settle for more low income housing when people raise a stink.

    Win-Win if the TIF expansion is approved in her mind.

  43. The low assessment that make using TIF money for surface parking lots patently absurd in terms of the goals of TIF, makes it perfect as a buy-and-hold investment.

    This week the buzz in the City's network of delegate agencies is DevCorp North abandoning Howard for their brand spanking new contruction world headquarters on Morse, built through TIF subterfuge.

    DevCorp North BOUGHT a commercial condo on Morse. How does a storefront not-for-profit scraping by almost entirely by operating funds from contracts with the City of Chicago accumulate enough capital to buy a new-construction world HQ? Read and learn: YOU, the property taxpayers of Cook County bought it for them, thanks to The Miracle of TIF.

    Now you might think from your read of Illinois' TIF laws that endowing not-for-profits and building new world headquarters for them are not on the list of eligible TIF expenditures, but you would just be showing your lack of
    imagination about what's possible with TIF in Chicago.

    When the redevelopment agreement for Gateway Mall, funded out of the
    Howard-Paulina TIF, was executed in 1996, Moore quietly wrote into the agreement a endowment for DevCorp, a 5% ownership position which cost DevCorp North $50.

    DevCorp North demonstrated their profound understanding of urban planning by wrapping the far north side's main rail-bus intermodal hub in a self-storage company.

    DevCorp North divided the Gateway property into commercial condos and sold the self-storage units to the self-storage company. DevCorp North used the proceeds to tap put of Gateway, abandon the Howard area, and purchase a commercial condo on Morse from perhaps Moore's most generous campaign contributor, developer Robert Coe. So everybody wins!

    DevCorp's new commercial condo includes deeded, enclosed parking for the executive director. How would you like to park on Howard St every day?

    $50 to a new construction headquarters in 13 years, not bad.

    Delegate agencies across the City are intensely jealous of Moore's and DevCorp's cleverness.

    Shiller's "parking lots" are Uptown United/Business Partners saying in the proud Chicago tradition, "Where's Mine?"

  44. Hopeless thank you for proving my point. I never said the teachers were at fault. My post simply stated that many students don't go to school to learn. Separating the good from the bad would benefit those that are in school to learn. Privatizing would be the easiest way to do this. Students would have to test into a school of their choice thereby allowing students who want to learn to be surrounded by those who can foster their motivation. These private schools would be able to set their own behavioral policies. Privatizing would not only foster learning but would dismantle the the beaurocracy that is the CPS. I went to private schools and they were far from technologically up to date, the facilities were not top notch but almost everyone went to college and graduated. I beg to differ when people say the solution is more money. Money does not solve the problem of views that some hold toward education, increasing funding does not increase the value some hold toward education. I'll go out on limb and say the reason you don't see many of your Uptown neighbors with school aged children is because they move somewhere with a better school district, not blaming the teachers, but blaming the parents and the students themselves. BTW don't you think name calling is a bit childish, especially on a blog?

  45. We need less Alderman with bigger wards and we need term limits.

  46. I made sure to share this article with all the neighbors in my building. They were amazed at this latest development, but I was asked, "What can we do to stop it?" My response was, go to the City Hall/Zoning meetings and voice your opinion, knowing in the back of my mind the council and zoning boards will rubber stamp anything the crazy woman puts in front of them.

    Short of that, does anyone have any ideas? Is this something FWY can assist in (although their hands are already full - but it is part of the WY TIF)? I would surely donate more to that cause. This cannot move forward. We can comment all we want on this blog, but we need to act fast on this one and quash it.

  47. Wow.

    Can anything be done that will inject some oversight and accountability into this never ending amendment process? In principle, I am not against any of the "ideas" that have been floated regarding the WY TIF: affordable housing, assistance to non-profits, small business incubators, job skills programs, aide to small businesses, even parking.

    What I rail against is the fact that everything is railroaded through, no quality studies are ever done (regarding ROI or impact, for example) and the TIF money is treated as if it was growing on some magic tree on the corner of Wilson and Broadway.

    I am sure there was a way to use the TIF for socially responsible development but I am also sure that what has happened (and is happening) is not it. What a waste. Just think of what good that money could have done for our local schools. RE: HopelessinUptown's post, why shouldn't the neighborhood schools get more resources? Its great that Helen has done what she could to preserve affordable housing in Uptown. But so what if the kids growing up here don't benefit from safe streets and fantastic schools?

    Uptown has so much promise and it makes me want to throw up seeing so much if it frittered away. This isn't a game. Some of these "big plans" might have been possible if we had a very well thought out and skillfully executed plan.

    Some adages that seem to apply here:

    Hope is not a plan
    Opportunity favors the prepared mind
    Money doesn't grow on trees
    When it's gone, it's gone.

  48. Does anyone think the "green technology center" and parking lots will be FOR-PROFIT? If not, Shiller is asking us property tax payers to pay to take property OFF the property tax base.

  49. After amassing his fortune, Warren Buffett found that giving his money away was just as hard (or even harder) than making it. Anyone can throw money at something and hope for the best and then do some rationalizing at the end to show that it was all worth it. Leveraging money for the most positive impact, however, is very difficult and takes an incredible amount of planning, expertise, patience, collaboration and humility. Would anyone use those words to describe the WY TIF?

  50. Would anyone use those words to describe the WY TIF?


    Those who are profiting, unfairly, from the unethical use of our tax dollars would certainly be able to work those words into a WY description.

    Should Helen's "Little Caracas" come to fruition, the Wilson Yard TIF should be dismantled.

    Actually, all the TIFs need to be dismantled since we know darn well that they are only being propped up with graft.

    No offense to the Clarendon Park folks, but the community will need to rally against any development at Maryville if TIF funds are involved.

    TIF abuse has gotten so bad that we're almost becoming numb to it.

    It must stop.

  51. I wonder if this fish farm ever showed up in the original charrettes for ideas about this TIF? I can't seem to find it?