Tuesday, March 9, 2010

See What $400K Housing Units Look Like

The fencing and barriers around Wilson Yard on Montrose have been taken down, so now we can get a look at what $54,000,000 of our money (or, if you prefer, 70% of our property taxes for 23 years) will buy.


  1. What's on the inside of the apartments.

    What materials are used?

  2. Affordable Housing? Another program where the label has nothing to do with the actual results. Affordable to who? The tax payer, who has to pay more. This is everyone who owns a property and before you jump on me poorer/middle class people own homes too. Then figure in the loss of land that could be used to build other housing that would drive down the cost of real estate? (supply and demand) Then the government bureaucracy that's figured into the cost of the building.

    Then someone can stay as long as they want in this property having no need to improve their situation. Thus, it becomes a permanent home for people and the only solution is to build more housing for others and make more people dependent on the government.

    The goal should be to get people out of this type of housing not to build more. However, its always some big achievement when we create more "affordable housing" and a crime when its tore down.

  3. How appropriate that there is a cop car parked out front in da 2nd photo.

    I'd like to report a robbery.

    The victim?

    The taxpayers.

    I'm also picturing a campaign flyer for the Aldermanic race.

    It involves fish farms, 400 grand low income units, and personalized tax increase information.

    Vive La Resistance!


    I was told Shiller ain't gonna run. That would break my heart.

    Can you hear dose steps behind you, Helen?

    It's "da feet".

  4. Again, let's welcome the folks who move in with open arms and do what we can to help this be a good addition to the neighborhood.

    That being said, let's also do what we can to make sure whomever designed this very un-Chicago bit of "architecture" never builds in this ward again.

  5. IT AIN'T SO!

    I really, really, want to see her run. For reelection that is.

    If I want to see her run I'll just find that video of her running from the Truman meeting like the little Corsican before Moscow.

    I need to come up with a movie name.

    A Fish Named Helen?

    A TIF too Far?

    FishShack? With a cameo by Bill Murray.

    Daley Bread?

    I'll need to drink some more. My inspiration is failing me.

    Helen is my political muse.

    She completes me.

    Without her I would be like Ahab hunting a field mouse:

    "Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering mouse; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I set traps for thee; for cheese sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, mouse! Thus, I give up the snap trap!"
    - Moby Dick, Herman Melville(with a few pirate approved changes)

  6. I have also heard that Shiller is done.

  7. I don't understand these alderman. I really Don't.

  8. Pssst,

    Helen, are you reading this?

    If you are I'll donate some money to you AFTER you announce you are running.

    Really, I have a hard time with the idea of you leaving office without facing the pain of "de feet".

    Just because certain people close to you are talking about running themselves doesn't mean it's over for you. In another thread Chip Douglas mentioned the name "Don". That's just one name being mentioned among a near baker's dozen.

    Was it over when the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?

    Hell no, and it ain't over just because Mayoral slackeys are talking to potential candidates to replace you.

    Nope, you must go on. You must hold the line. You are the last of the old line "progressives" in the City Council. Sure, you sold what little soul you have to lil' Richie, but no one can match your oratorical skills. Your writing prowess is legendary.

    YOU Helen are living embodiment of Colonel Chamberlain at Little Round Top. You must run. You must win. You are the end of the line.

    PLEASE Helen, Don't leave us(me) like dis!

    Seriously, I really think it's likely she won't run. That saddens me.

    It will be more difficult to defeat whatever hack the machine tries to replace her with.

    I'll still go out of my way to make said hack's life miserable, but it just won't be as much fun.

    Sniff, sniff, cry cry.

  9. I drive by this every day. I thought it was odd that just the street level 'entrance' has salvaged the vintage terra cotta tiles.
    These 'units' were built at a higher price than my circa 1916 1600 square foot condo on Malden is worth today.

    Beyond that, the building looks like a Google image search for 'Soviet era East Berlin housing'.

    Just a few hundred feet away, Potter and Bertha Palmer must be rolling in their graves.....

  10. But you guys realize that Soviet-era East Berlin housing would have been at the same quality for 1/20th the price. Then gain, there are suckers in Lakeview who bought the same quality new construction at the same price as Wilson Yard. And I wonder why friends who are contractors laugh at anyone who buys units built post 2000...

  11. I've lost Pete's Weather and now I may lose my archnemesis Helen Shiller.

    Thank God I've found a replacement weather station at Montrose Harbor to replace Pete.

    Who shall play Moby Dick to my Ahab?

    By the way I would call the style of construction at Wilson Yard.....late Stalinist with a touch of Franklin Loyd Wright. The third cousin of Frank Lloyd Wright.

  12. You had me all excited UU...I thought were announcing the open house so we could tour the preoject(s). I've now sent both Peter and Helen three e-mails with no response (one just before I posted this comment). Given how transparently this TIF has operated I'm at a loss as to why they're not exhalting its opening.

  13. I think the construction style looks more like "early Kroger".

    Utilitarian, for sure.

  14. I must say that regardless of what I think of the architecture of the WY building, it is much better looking than the ugly, prison-appearing monstrosity directly to the south across Montrose Avenue! Now THAT'S an ugly building! (In this viewer's eyes.)

  15. Beware of ShillerSpeak. This video of Shiller speaking at
    one of the aldermanic debates,is a reminder of what the community wanted to see at Wilson Yard.


    Where's that market rate housing?
    And look what we got for our
    $58 million in taxpayers' money.

  16. Every time I drive by, the same song comes to mind. I am not sure why:

    Just lookin' out of the window.
    Watchin' the asphalt grow.
    Thinkin' how it all looks hand-me-down.
    Good Times, yeah, yeah Good Times

  17. The inside of the apartments are very low-grade quality. Cheap carpet, floors,kitchens and every door in the unit is a steel-type fire door. I wonder if the price is so high because it's a funded project and they have more strict building codes?

    I tried to get an apartment in the building since it was supposed to be less expensive and new, however, the entire process was completely unorganized and not forthcoming. For 3 weeks I was told I would be able to have an apartment on the 7th floor that faced east at the advertised rate. After paying the $35 application fee and getting in all required paperwork I was told I could have a unit on the second floor that has the jungle gym playground 8 feet from my window and I was told the rent would be $60 more a month then I had been told for the last 3 weeks since I had an in-person meeting with them. The apartments were advertised as 650 sq ft and the one I saw was maybe 450 sq ft. Not only has it taken away tax payers dollars, it has not helped the citizens of Uptown because it's still too expensive. If you do not have a section 8 voucher for this building, it is unaffordable. Making $26,000 a year and having to pay $730 for "affordable housing" is contradictory. When you do the math, that is 49% of your take home pay going towards rent.

    I was a supporter of the building because I really did think it would give Uptown neighbors an affordable living alternative but the rent is just as high as larger 1 beds you can find in the neighborhood. I think everyone needs to know how terribly this has been misrepresented, not only to the residents of Uptown but the applicants of the building. When I asked why I was told one price and location for 3 weeks and then that suddenly changed, they had no answer for me. I was reassured by 2 different people that worked for the building that I would have the location I wanted in the building and that I would be paying the advertised rate for a 1 bedroom. I was told as long as all of the required paperwork reflected the information I gave then I would be accepted. Having been told that, I even started packing my current apartment, only to have to unpack after I realized I was a victim of the infamous "bait & switch". Maybe they should complete the entire application process before they started promising people things that they couldn't produce.

  18. liliki - that really stinks that you got such a run around. My guess is you got bumped by one of Helen's friends or a Section 8 voucher holder.

    Afterall, Helen is ultimately doing the tenant screening - which is appalling to say the least.

  19. liliki,

    On the application, in the section where it asks "Will you vote for Helen in 2011?", did you check the "yes" box?

    Maybe you should don a Che' tshirt and stop by the office to make further inquiries.

    Speaking of inquiries, am I reading this right ...? Are we actually paying (roughly) $430 per sq ft in this place?

    As for the steel fire doors ... that actually is reminiscent of a late 70's tv show.

  20. miss kitty- that is one theory and if anyone can prove that she sees the applications, that should definately be made public knowledge.
    In my case, I think the blame lies on Holsten's shoulders. I was told they have many rules to follow because of the financing of the building- when the proposal was done for the building many years ago, it included which units would be available for the different income levels and that was set prior to the hole even being dug. Supposedly all these rules were in place yet the agents handling the leasing of this building were not given this information??? It was like pulling teeth to get anyone to explain the income restrictions and renewal policies. I searched online and could not find the information and was told several times that it wasn't written anywhere that I could read it because it was complicated and set by the state, not Holsten.
    I was not a fan of Helen's prior to this happening and now she has sunk even lower in my mind. It's not only the condo owners that paid taxes for this, when my landlord's property taxes doubled, he had no alternative but to raise the rents, so renters paid for this WY building as well.
    Holsten has not represented themself in a very good light and the feeling I got was they didn't really care because the building would reach capacity with section 8 residents.
    Does anyone know how we can find out how many of the residents actually lived in Uptown prior to moving into WY? I would be the number is very very low.

  21. “I have to challenge you, this is not a Section 8 building,” Shiller said. “Such as any rental building in the City of Chicago there may be people who have vouchers to live there. It does not have Section 8 attached to it. “


  22. UPDATE: I received an e-mail from Carima Watkins: "Currently, there are no plans for an open house at Wilson Yard. If you'd like to see the layout and/or actual photos of the apartments in the development, we'd be happy to share that info with you here at the office."

    I'll check their weekend hours and try to get there.

  23. I'm not going to defend WY specifically because I haven't been in Chicago long enough to know its full history, but I do work in housing finance and can confirm a few things. The financing source(s) determine the income targeting and rent requirements, by unit size. When there are multiple sources as there are in WY, it becomes a puzzle, trying to figure out how to meet each source's requirements to target X% of units at Y% of area median income. There would be multiple unit types (1,2,3BRs) I assume, and multiple income targets. They end up having to look at floor plans and label which units target which incomes at each BR size to make sure all the financing sources' requirements are satisfied. If they make a mistake, they have to move all the labels around to fix it. I'm thinking it's like those little handheld puzzles with squares you move around to make a picture? That's the best metaphor I can come up with. Anyway, they should still be forthcoming about having made a mistake in offering a unit.

  24. IP, should you someday somehow actually find yourself somewhat satisfied with your alderman, just move up the ladder with your critical eye: state rep & senator, county commissioners, gov, congressmen, senators, pres - there's other fish in the sea big fella, cheer up! there's no crying in political activism

  25. we'd be happy to share that info with you here at the office

    Y'know where a good venue for that info would be?

    Right here

  26. Hi all, I just found you online and I am an applicant at the Wilson Yards. This is a good site to get the 411 on the apartments. I agree, they are non-appealing and almost look like the projects on the outside. I was able to get inside and halls are still being worked on. They are gray steel. I will go next week and see a one-bedroom apartment.
    I applied for a 2 bedroom.

    Does anybody know if Section 8 WILL ACTUALLY BE IN THE BUILDING, as I don't want to be with Section 8. I thought "affordable" meant income level and you would have to be working.
    You can email me direct: wrightinchicago @ yahoo