Thursday, March 3, 2011

Uplift Wants $3.5M In TIF Funds For Greenhouse

A reader writes in:
"Can't believe nobody has caught this yet, so here you go. Wilson Yard TIF ordinance heading to the City Council's Finance Committee tomorrow at 10am to spend $3.5 million on Uplift.

Per Exhibit B in the proposed ordinance, it's for:

"Project Description: This project constructs new 3-story greenhouse atrium additions at the existing courtyards. An aluminum curtain wall system and sloped glazing roof enclosure system with operable portions for natural ventilation will be constructed."

See the committee agenda here

See the proposed Mayoral ordinance authorizing it here

"That Wilson Yard TIF has to be pretty well drained if this one passes out of committee tomorrow. Last page of that proposed ordinance lists all the outlays in the TIF so far, big numbers, but not many public meetings about them I can recall."


  1. Word on the street is that Shiller pissed some people off so this is not going to happen. We can only hope.

  2. That is $500,000 more for Uplift than she allocated for the Wilson L. We can see where her priorities lie.

  3. If we oppose this, then automatically we don't support education. I can see where this is headed.

  4. I'd like to see a joint statement from Molly and James opposing this.

  5. I'd like to see the money immediately deployed to the blighted commercial district at Wilson and Broadway. Love...Stash

  6. I support education, but the last time I checked, botany was not on the SAT and ACT. Focus on the three R's.

  7. If Uplift can offer sound reasoning for this, I'm not terribly opposed. (Sounds strange coming from someone so anti-TIF, I know.) Schools should be getting some TIF funds since they give up so much money to TIFs. Do they have numbers/analysis to support this? How will this encourage investment and economic prosperity in the neighborhood? Will it attract businesses? Families (with incomes)?

  8. How about they ask for the $3.5 million to promote gang awareness and prevention programs? That would be useful.

    I think they have bigger fish to fry than building a greenhouse - which will eventually be neglected and left to deteriorate.

    What priorities some people have! Meh...

  9. Right-on, Bluestreak. The last I remember seeing on this site, Uplift had a pretty dismal graduation rate. Show you can teach the fundamentals that will help the kids succeed first. Then, we can worry about the nice to have amenities like greenhouses and such.

  10. You folks lack vision.

    It's all about the W E E D.

    Mary Jane.



    Giggle Twig


    Rainy Day Woman

    As you can see I consulted the "google".

    You can't have a thriving rock/jazz entertainment district without weed. Best it be locally grown and support the public school budget.

    Think about it.

    You can call the product:


  11. 1 week and every pane of glass in that greenhouse would be broken.

  12. The other part of the Exhibit reads:

    Additional landscaping, signage, new fire alarm devices, lighting, security cameras, dumpster and trash enclosures and other site improvements are also part of the project plan.

    It would appear that this is a bit of an omnibus-kinda' thing.

    IE - the project is not wholly for the greenhouse and/or the further "greening" of the building; but, those items were folded into a plan which addresses "site improvements" which may be very well be necessary.

    Having said that, if there are specific needs to the site which need to be funded (fire alarm systems/cameras, etc), I'm all for that.

    However, when taking a comprehensive view of the needs of the ward - with long standing promises going unkept - I do wonder if a greenhouse is the best use of public funds.

  13. FWIW here's Exhibit G with the Project Budget:

    Landscaping and Site Preparation
    - Demolition, Landscaping and Signage - $587,987
    - Contingency and fees - $160,137
    - Environmental Remdiation - $37,406
    Subtotal = $785,530

    Design and Project Management - $847,282

    Construction - $1,421,799
    - Contingency and fees - $351,753
    - Environmental remediation - $88,678

    Total = $3,495,042

    Almost 25% of budget to design and project management which is a nice nut for somebody.

    I guess providing seven line items and a 57 word project description for a $3.5 million dollar project is the new (greenhouse) transparency.

  14. I'm all for TIF money going to education, but I can think of hundreds of things that could be done at the school that would be of greater benefit to the students.

    I want to know who they have in mind to be contractors.

  15. I hope and pray this does not get approved. Throwing any money whatsoever at a greehouse is ridiculous as long as our cta stations continue to crumble.

  16. @ Ray...where do you get your stats!!?? Uplift has only had TWO graduation classes!! And the graduation rate is not dismal!! I mean before you go spewing facts please make SURE YOU ARE CORRECT!! I am by no means a fan of Uplift, but I can't stand propaganda!!

  17. I'd say less than 1/2 half of the students graduating is pretty dismal.

    46% in 2010, according to CPS. Almost half that of the state, not even 2/3 of the district.

    Stats from the CPS State Report Card for Uplift:

  18. While I am not necessarily against funding education, I always fear that the money RARELY actually gets to the classrooms.

    This link will take you to TAXPAYERS UNITED OF AMERICA and their 8th annual study of the highest State of Illinois GOVERNMENTAL pensions... I emphasize again GOVERNMENTAL, from EVERY BRANCH of state government:

    This second link lists Illinois Top 100 Government Pension Payouts 2008-2009 by name and yearly/monthly pension payments.

    As you can see, nearly every single one is coming out of the field of Education and are collecting pensions of between $ 390,000+ and $ 178,000+ a year. It is information like this that makes me extremely nervous of sending even more tax dollars into our "schools".

  19. I.P. I was thinking the same thing.

    Bradley If can can located a proposal from Uplift please post your findings.

  20. If you want some gardening experience just look at all the medians that the mayor converted, or the roundabouts in the intersections that the fire trucks can't manuever. Forget the greenhouse, those are being neglected and only cause trouble! Beautify those for classes!

  21. Wow, really unbelievable.

    Totally agree with IrishPirate...
    This is about WEED. They are just going to grow their own pot.
    Just saw today a large group of sweet Uplift kids making a drug deal. They had on their Uplift school jackets and all.

    We are falling so behind in education in the world. There are so many other things to spend 3.5mil on for education. And really, what kind of insane greenhouse is this going to be for $3.5million!!!!

  22. A bigger point that all of you seem to have missed is that Shiller is trying to drain the Wilson Yard TIF her successor (whomever it will be) will have NO ability to tap into it for what the taxpayers of the TIF district really want. As far as I'm concerned, any way that a wrench can be thrown into the machinery so that NO MORE TIF MONEY CAN BE SPENT BY THE CURRENT ALDERMEN would be a good thing...they've already driven us to the brink of bankruptcy.

  23. Dear Alderman Shiller, I would be happy to build your greenhouse for just $2.5 million. And I won't even downsize or use a lesser grade of glass. And totally awesome flowers. I've already checked with Gethsemane up in the 48th ward and they'll supply the entire plant inventory for about $7,600. Please let me know.

  24. Well? How did it go? Anyone have the scoop?

    Regarding those who want a "no frills, back to basics" education for high-schoolers: Science is part of the "basic" curriculum. Biology is part of science. Botany is part of biology. So a hands-on botany project like this is very "basic" indeed.

  25. I heard that it passed the committee. In about 3 minutes. Also heard that there was no public testimony on anything on the agenda and it was a fast meeting, so doesn't sound like anybody at all showed up to oppose it (or speak in favor for that matter).

  26. I agree with Yo, site improvements are a good thing.

    Beyond that, this is a Fish Farm waiting to happen.