Smart Development

Wise Development and Smarter TIFs

A great city needs to keep on growing, building, and embracing the future – but it also needs to preserve its heritage and protect the character of its neighborhoods. As your Alderman, I will take a balanced approach to development, working with developers and residents to create a collaborative, respectful process that helps our communities to grow and thrive without destroying the charm and livability of our neighborhoods.

Giving Neighbors a Voice

The City of Chicago offers some great opportunities for real estate developers to build new homes and commercial structures.  These developments create much needed, good paying construction jobs and bring new opportunities for restaurants and retail to our communities. But developers must respect the needs and desires of existing neighbors as they plan new construction projects. As your Alderman, I will work with constituents throughout the Second Ward to create a “Neighborhood Bill of Rights” to protect residents from ill-advised development plans. I also will ask developers building in the Second Ward to sign a checklist that will reduce the negative impacts of construction on people living and working nearby. Among other things, developers and their employees will be asked to mow the grass in the summer, keep sidewalks clear of snow in the winter, make sure that construction noise does not start before 8 a.m., and keep their vehicles from blocking our alleys and garages.  The checklist will be modeled after one that Alderman Tom Tunney has already put together.  You can see more of what I would ask developers to commit to by clicking here.

Clybourn Corridor Redevelopment

Redevelopment of the vacant A. Finkl & Sons steel plant and the nearby Gutmann Leather Co. and Lakin and Sons buildings could potentially become the biggest new development the North Side has seen in decades. Redeveloping those sites, and building the necessary transportation and infrastructure improvements they would require, could create hundreds of great paying construction jobs, followed quickly by good paying permanent jobs along the Clybourn corridor.

As your Second Ward Alderman, I will have significant influence of the direction of that development. I pledge to use that influence to make sure that developers make smart decisions that will benefit the entire community for decades to come.  And, I will fight to make sure that whatever happens along the Clybourn corridor takes into account all transit, congestion and density issues that plague North Avenue, Clybourn Ave. and the surrounding side streets.

Tax Increment Financing

Tax-Increment Financing (TIF) districts have been used to promote public and private investment throughout Chicago for many years. In blighted districts that have been starved of investment, private developers rely on TIFs to fund infrastructure projects that will help the district come back to life. TIF funds are generated by the increase in property taxes driven by the new development and its (presumably positive) impact on property values inside the TIF district. Those increased taxes are paid back into the TIF instead of flowing into the City’s coffers. The Chicago Public Schools do not receive any increased property tax revenues from TIF districts – even if they include large, successful developments – for the 23-year life of the TIF.

As your Alderman, I will support some targeted, sensible TIF investments in the Second Ward. But, I believe we need to get back to the original intention of the TIF concept and focus Chicago’s TIF dollars on helping “blighted” communities to rebuild. I would also support using TIF dollars in areas where prosperous neighborhoods border less affluent communities, in the hope that the TIF could help to extend “spin-off” economic growth into struggling communities.

Because so much of the Second Ward is made up of communities with the means to support development through private investment alone, I will hold new TIF proposals in the ward to a very high standard. I will support using TIF dollars only if a development project clearly would not succeed without them, and only if the development seems likely to create good job opportunities that would benefit the city as a whole. I will also require developers who seek TIF designations to pledge that their contractors and subcontractors will pay the prevailing wage to all workers on the project.  If they are going to ask something from taxpayers, then they should be required to give back by paying good wages and offering good benefits to the people who build Chicago.

Used properly, TIFs can help to drive economic development and bring good new jobs to neighborhoods that need them. But as your Alderman, I will make sure that we are not investing your tax dollars in developments that would succeed without them.