Friday, May 27, 2011

Meeting Regarding Maryville Development June 7

From a Clarendon Park Neighborhood Association mailing:
CPNA is in urgent need of your assistance. The proposed developer and the property owners of the old Maryville site are forcing our new Alderman to call the flawed development proposal for a vote at the City Council  by the end of June (less than 6 weeks into his first term).  Otherwise they are threatening to not allow any development on the lot for 10-15 years. This $350 MILLION dollar project "...Would be the biggest Northside development in decades" (Crain's). Their pressure tactics cannot be allowed to force the approval of a bad development plan that has not had a thorough vetting of financials, TIF qualifications, floorplans, or community need.  Their ultimatum is a ruse and a sham.

CPNA and the neighborhood support a quality development at this location.  After spending 2 years negotiating with Sedgwick Development, we found out they had lied to us about several key features of the development based upon their official plan submission to the City.  Their artists renderings were drawn way out of scale, to mask the 85' high concrete base (reminiscent of bad 80's architecture), they promised low-rise condos along Agatite Avenue, and instead submitted a proposal showing an 80' plus tall parking garage.  They also proposed a TIF subsidy of $50 million dollars with no "Clawback provision" which would give the money back to the City if they did not build everything they proposed.  They are also trying to subvert the City's affordable housing set-aside program, among many other things.

Bottom Line- Their plan is flawed, their architecture is weak, and their track record is not good (either with the community or within the industry).

We need you to come out and voice your support for your neighbors, and make sure our new era in Uptown is not begun with a bad decision leading to bad development.  Alderman Cappleman must hear from us that Uptown deserves great architecture, and solid developers.  This neighborhood has more large developable parcels than any other on the north lakefront, and developers have been trying for 30 years to build here.  When these bad developers have folded up shop, our new Alderman can begin the process of finding quality developers to bring quality development to Uptown.  There is no reason to rush this unless you are trying to hide something.  Please come out to the meeting on June 7th.

Community Meeting: Tuesday June 7, 2011, at 7:00 pm

Place:  Clarendon Park Fieldhouse

What:   Vote on the current plan by Sedgwick Development to develop Columbus-Maryville property
Sedgwick Development and the owners of the Columbus-Maryville property are trying to ram Sedgwick's plan through the City approval process by the end of June. Alderman Cappleman has scheduled a community meeting  to address Sedgwick's plan, opponents will present critical defects in the plan and with this developer that render both unsuitable, and a vote on the plan will be held for residents living within 250 feet of the development.

If you want your voice heard, PLEASE come to the meeting!  More information to follow.



  1. As Steven Covey put it - "Win-Win or No Deal." If they are willing to walk away from the negotiations before trying to find a third, forth, fifth, or sixth solution that leads to Win-Win, then let them walk away.

    Let's hope the Alderman has the strength to let them know that he will work to come up with a Win-Win, but No Deal is on the table. Remember, he can walk away just like they are threatening to.

    The decision to approve needs to be based on principle. If the right decision results in an owner exercising their right not to develop for years, so be it. There will be other projects, and there is plenty of work to be done.

    On this project, I am certain that the Alderman is getting pressure from a lot of stakeholders...

  2. Let the sister's "land bank" these properties. Sounds selfish on their part, but nothing a little eminent domain couldn't take care of...

    I noticed too that it is mentioned that Sedgwick is trying to "subvert" the city's affordable housing plan? That I can handle. There is much too much affordable housing in the area anyway. This plan doesn't need to incorporate more - nor does it need TIF funds to develop this prime piece of lakefront property. Thanks to Shiller though, its a another damn TIF district.

  3. How long has everyone, from the block clubs to UCC, been asking Sedgwick to have a large community meeting where all the community voices can been heard?

    Looks like we're finally getting one.

    Funny how it never happened before.

    Sedgwick's refusal to have anything except small meetings and "open houses" leads me to believe they don't want to be up front with the community. I welcome the chance to be able to ask questions and meet with them *and* representatives from the community at large, as well as the alderman.

  4. To the good sisters... "use it or lose it!" By "it" I mean the property tax exemption. They can choose to operate a charitable or educational facility or start paying property tax. If they can't or won't do either, then the city should pay them whatever the raw land is worth minus demolition costs.

  5. James, this is why we elected you.. to take a principaled stand and use our TIF/tax dollars responsibly. This is your defining moment in your tenure.. will you roll over or will you stand up? As a supporter, one of the issues that came up time and again when I spoke to people about you was their worrying about you having the backbone to deal with these issues. TIF abuse and crime were the two main reasons Helen left.. she knew she could not be re=elected..

    James, time to stand up and earn the respect we were all counting on... no deal, James... or else I assure you their are folks that will begin to line up to replace you in four years and use this as a jumping off point...

  6. Guapo!, this is a community meeting James has called to get the discussion rolling on what to do with Maryville and the Sedgwick proposal. The sisters are saying, make a decision by June 30th or we'll just let the property lie vacant for a few years. (Which is fine with me, by the way.)

    This is not a line in the sand by anyone except the sisters who own the property. It's not an Old West scenario of the alderman standing up to Sedgwick. It's an opportunity for the community to get together with our alderman and discuss our feelings about what gets built at the Maryville site. Just like in other wards! What a concept!

    Making it out to be some kind of acid test for James takes away from the fact that a 46th Ward alderman is, finally, inviting everyone to the table to make a decision about what goes on in our community. Not just her pets, not "representatives" -- everyone. That is to be commended.

    Misrepresenting it as High Noon -- James versus the big bad developers -- does no one any favors.

  7. 10-15 yrs is about right, nothing is going to be built here without handouts/TIF support in the next decade. The property really isn't that prime, at least not yet.

    I see a handful of likely outcomes-

    1. The property lies as is indefinitely. The strong opposition here seems to be to the idea that more housing will further cripple the already bad housing market. Now i can argue that both ways, but what is true, is that without TIF money, new construction market rate, non-senior housing won't be built in Uptown for 10+ years.

    2. The location is developed into a big box, clybourn corridor/ hybrid strip mall style developement. I think this might be the most likely based on neighborhood demographics and market conditions. It is also the only development that can happen within a decade on the site that won't require TIF money.

    3. The plan goes ahead more or less as has been laid out with the housing component delayed. Very little market rate housing is going up in the city period right now, i just don't see it happening here anytime soon.

  8. Boohoo YES YES and YES. Thank you. This is an opportunity for community involvement. It is OUR neighborhood. We, everyone, need to be involved in its development. Our ward is a democracy again. It is time to put in the effort to make it a better place to live.

  9. Sedgwick has been less then honest in the past, and now we have an ultimatum with a 6 week expiration.

    Let them walk...this is a bad deal The 10-15 years threat is an obvious ploy.

    I will be there. Personally I would prefer to see it undeveloped for 10-15 years then to see a poorly-conceived monstrosity stand there for decades and decades to come.

    We can do a lot better then this in the next few years in such a prime location. Sedgwick likely knows this.

  10. OMG, the Rapture is upon us. Mr. Littleton and I agree! LOL

  11. There are a number of things I think regarding what should be built at that location. All of these ideas are subject to change based on circumstances and more complete information becoming available.

    First, NO TIF money should be used for this. It's an incredibly valuable piece of property and using TIF money here is essentially subsidizing the property seller. If no TIF money is available the buyer will offer less moola. Basic economics.

    Second, any housing here should be entirely market rate. Let me repeat that. MARKET RATE.

    Third, that's an appropriate location for some high density development fronting Montrose and Clarendon. Gentrification AND the changing size of American households have caused a significant population loss in our lovely ward.

    If you want vibrant retail it helps to have some human beings living around here who need to shop.

    I'm unsure of the need for retail right there. Perhaps it's a good idea. What I'm sure of is the need for some more market rate housing in our neighborhood. I know now may not be the time to build it, but that day will come.

    For those of you worrying that any new condos built there will drop the demand/prices for your condos I doubt it. New highrise housing there would generally not be competing with older condos.

    Somebody buying in a 50 year old building on Marine Drive is unlikely to be looking at the higher priced new construction at this location.

    Someone looking to buy in a highrise is a different critter than someone looking to buy in a center entrance six-flat a few blocks away.

    As for the ultimatum aspect of this from Sedgewick my attitude is to tell them to take a long walk in a Japanese nuclear plant.

    As others have said while I would like to see this developed tomorrow, I would rather see the property remain vacant for a few years than to see some crap built.

  12. 1) Will Sedgewick disclose a list of its investors and contributions made to public officials in the past two years?

    2) Why do we need a lakefront shopping complex? Here's a location on major public transportation lines, whereby you can get downtown to MI Ave in less than a half hour. Why do we need public funds for this? There's plenty of undeveloped property on Broadway for the Homegoods, etc type stores if they want to locate there. Groceries, like we don't have a Jewel Dominicks Aldi and Target Groceries nearby (not to mention the one that's supposed to go in a Ravenswood and Lawrence).

    3) Why not take TIF money, buy the property, wreck the building and put it on land bank status until the market improves. Sell it, pay off the TIF. Any profit goes to the schools (that have been ripped off by TIFs for too long).

    4) A lakefront highrise is ok by me. Lakefront density is good, environmentally, especially with good public transit.

  13. I don't live in Uptown, but I'm in the neighborhood and near this site all the time. I have no problem with high-density, tall construction on this site--it seems like a great place for it--but I have a problem with the bland design and the prominent parking podium. Uptown deserves good on the ground floor and below ground parking.

  14. The sisters are directly connected to the biggest developer of all time, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior who is the only only son of the Lord himself which is to say Jesus is the Lord and his own son. Kind of like in Appalachia where you might be your own cousin.

    In any case these matters are decided by a higher power.

    I think therefore if the sisters insist on this deal going forward, we should allow it to happen.

  15. Has anyone given any consideration to restoration or repurposing of the current structures at Maryville? These buildings may not be as architecturally interesting as Goldberg's Prentice Hospital downtown, but they are representative of a period of 50’s Modern/Googie architecture that often does not get the respect it deserves.

    The Maryville building on the northeast corner of Montrose and Clarendon was designed by Edo J. Bell, who also built St Joseph’s Hospital at 2900 North Lake Shore Drive. If we fail to preserve architecture like this we’re destined to living in an environment of bland big box retail stores, boring oversized developments and teardowns that have been replaced by faux McMansions. We need to respect Uptown’s rich architectural heritage.

  16. First off, I agree with I.P., in that I don't think ANY TIF money should go toward this project.
    'Daniel' are a man after my heart. I've mentioned this before....In my humble opinion the current structure is a fine example of mid-century architecture (why destroy it?) I think it's a great parallel with the endangered Goldberg maternity wing downtown.

    Why not expand on the current structure, rather than build something out of scale, and out of touch?

  17. I think it would be an excellent location for an Arts Center similar to Hyde Park AC,

    Uptown needs it.

    Keep the buildings.....a talented and creative architect out there somewhere could improve and expand on the current "mid-century design", probably jump at the chance.

    The big question is:

    Could it be done for the amount of TIF money be asked for this project? Would a project like this be considered "anti-blight"? $50 million.

    An Arts Center would attract people to Uptown, engage the residents, and improve the experience of living here more then Big Box retail and a condo tower ever will.

  18. I'm mostly just lurking and listening here... but this sentence in the otherwise informative post needs further unpacking:

    "They are also trying to subvert the City's affordable housing set-aside program, among many other things."

    HOW are they trying to subvert it? I'd not heard this bit of the story, and would like to hear more.

    I am neutral on this issue at present, but as others here, very interested in knowing more. I hope the end result is an intelligent, attractive, and functional use of the area that will benefit all of Uptown. Walking past the structures there now is a forlorn experience... thinking of them just sitting there for another two decades seems soooo depressing. Of course thinking of the area being misused is equally depressing.

  19. Great comment John Trott.

    I'm sure you would agree, that the last thing Uptown needs is more, forced, 'affordable housing'.

  20. "They are also trying to subvert the City's affordable housing set-aside program, among many other things."

    I find this to be the best part of the proposal.

  21. John Trott, your comment..:I hope the end result is an intelligent, attractive, and functional use of the area that will benefit all of Uptown. Walking past the structures there now is a forlorn experience" Why dont you walk outside of 920 West Wilson turn around and look at the craphole of a facade there, and then turn around again and look at all the crappy looking building JPUSA owns across the street.... FIX YOUR OWN DAMN MESS before sticking your nose in the rest of Uptowns aesthetic reasoning...

  22. What buildings are within 250 feet and wil there be one vote per resident or residence?

  23. "Using TIF money here is essentially subsidizing the property seller. If no TIF money is available the buyer will offer less moola. Basic economics."

    This is the *key point.* Let the market work as it should. If Sedgewick is not interested in the property without the TIF money then let them walk away from the deal.

    The sisters can then either "land bank" the property so that they get the price they want when the market turns, or they can see what price the market turns up now without the benefit of a TIF subsidy. These are the choices one *should* face when putting a piece of property on the market.

    Schools, safety, and infrastructure are Uptown's challenges. A big development on the tip of the ward (that wouldn't even be complete for another 5 years) will not make the direct impact we deserve for agreeing to $50 million in TIF money right now. They probably want to close this deal up before any more tax increases get implemented and people wonder why they have to pay more but a developer is getting a large tax subsidy. We needn't settle for indirect impact when we are investors too.

  24. Aldermen aren't "forced" to call anything for a vote by a developer or anyone else. Go copy the resolution former Alderman Mary Ann Smith and new Alderman Osterman used to downzone Somerset and use the same language to drop the hammer on this site.

    And while you're at it, start the paperwork to strip the vacant building sites property tax exemptions.

    Zoning Committee hardball to get a TIF subsidy and zoning concession hardly sounds like tax exempt non-profit activity.

  25. I'm not 100% positive but I think that whole parcel is Planned Development 138. It's from way back in 1975.

    There's some light reading for any zoning wonks out there.

  26. RE:
    "They are also trying to subvert the City's affordable housing set-aside program, among many other things."

    I am also very interested in what that means, this implied subversion.

    Among what "many other things" and how?

  27. "And while you're at it, start the paperwork to strip the vacant building sites property tax exemptions."


  28. Hey Joe...correct PD 138 1976, I have a hard copy. Could you re- send the link to the site? It didn't connect thru.