Lincoln Yards, The 78: City Council Expected to Pass Development Deals, Lightfoot Says

on Apr10
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2019-04-10 09:50:59

Plans to build two new major developments in Chicago were expected to be approved by City Council Wednesday, Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot said, after the proposals hit a dramatic snag earlier in the week.

Votes on financing the Lincoln Yards and The 78 developments stalled on Monday after Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked the Finance Committee, just minutes before their meeting, to delay the votes at the request of Lightfoot, who had asked for time to address concerns about the projects.

Lincoln Yards is a $6 billion proposed development from Sterling Bay to build skyscrapers, housing units, retail storefronts, green space and more on roughly 50 acres of riverfront property at the site of the old Finkl and Sons steel mill, bordered by the Kennedy Expressway, Webster, Clybourn, and North avenues, between the Lincoln Park and Bucktown neighborhoods.

The 78 is a separate mixed-use proposal from developer Related Midwest, slated for 62 acres bordered by Clark Street, Roosevelt Road, 16th Street and the Chicago River in the city’s South Loop neighborhood.

Vote Expected on Lincoln Yards Development Wednesday

Vote Expected on Lincoln Yards Development Wednesday

Ending a tense back-and-forth at City Hall Monday morning, Finance Committee Chair Ald. Pat O’Connor said the committee would postpone the votes until Wednesday, “hoping that the 48 hours between now and then will allow representatives of both the mayor’s office and the mayor-elect’s office to determine if there’s been enough information given to allow the projects to move forward at that time.”

That strategy appeared to bear fruit late Tuesday night, when Lightfoot said in a statement that the deals were “likely to pass” on Wednesday based on conversations with Emanuel, community stakeholders and aldermen, and after her team met with the developers of both projects.

The tax increment financing (TIF) deals for the developers have drawn criticism from some opposed to setting aside roughly $1.3 billion for Lincoln Yards and $700 million for the 78, to be used for infrastructure improvements, from the city’s cash-strapped coffers.

Votes on Lincoln Yards, The 78 Developments Delayed

Votes on Lincoln Yards, The 78 Developments Delayed

Activists have also criticized the amount of affordable housing proposed in the plans for each development, among other issues, with a sizable crowd at City Hall on Monday and Tuesday in protest of the pending votes.

Lightfoot did not directly address those concerns Tuesday, but said both developers had agreed to increase commitments to minority-owned and women-owned business enterprises from their original terms of $80 million, to $400 million overall, and that the developers agreed to terms giving the city the ability to measure their compliance with that commitment.

“These changes represent a vital sign that my administration will be able to make progress toward an equitable and fair deal for our communities,” her statement said.

Lincoln Yards Project Clears Another Hurdle

[CHI] Lincoln Yards Project Clears Another Hurdle

“There remains much more work to do in this regard, and I am hopeful we’ll be able to get there,” Lightfoot continued. “Under the terms of both redevelopment agreements, we have confirmed that the City has additional controls over these projects, which I am confident will allow for us to further improve these deals and to bring community voices into the process going forward.”

Lightfoot said that there were likely enough votes for the TIF deals to pass the Finance Committee, then for the full City Council to approve the projects on Wednesday.

“I am not yet the mayor, and I recognize that the current administration and City Council must decide whether to carry this vote forward according to the interests of the constituents they serve,” Lightfoot continued, adding a promise to “engage with the community and committed activists who have advocated forcefully for affordable housing, park space and the responsible use of tax increment financing dollars” once she takes office in May.

Lincoln Yards Gains Approval From Committee

[CHI] Lincoln Yards Gains Approval From Committee

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