City Panel approves $ 600 million to complete Cabrini
Chicago’s decades-long struggle to redevelop the former Cabrini-Green public housing development site came a little closer to end on Tuesday after an advisory committee voted to spend an additional $ 600 million in the neighborhood over the next 12 years.
The Chicago Community Development Commission – a panel of mayors that advises city council – voted unanimously to extend the life of a special 1997 Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, district in the specifically created Near North Side to redevelop the neighborhood.
This means Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to complete the project is now passed on to the entire city council for what city officials hope will be final approval in October, bringing the city’s total pledged amount to nearly a billion dollars.
“CHA cannot do it alone. These TIF dollars are essential, ”said panel member Maurice D. Cox, municipal commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development. “If we ever want to reach the beloved community, it was the promise of initiative, it is by extension.
If approved by city council, the Near North Tax Increment Financing District extension is expected to generate $ 600 million in additional tax revenue on top of the $ 350 million already generated since its inception in 1997 to help fund the mayor of the time. Richard M. Daley’s plan to redevelop the area.
The new windfall renews the debate over who won and lost in the massive redevelopment, especially when so much public money has been diverted from schools, police and libraries.
Daley ordered Cabrini-Green to be razed after years of local media coverage and national headlines describing him as plagued by crime and staggering poverty and a symbol of the failure of the country’s public housing policy . The buildings had fallen into disuse as federal housing policy changed and the CHA was unable to cope with leaking roofs, broken elevators and other maintenance issues.
For years, as the neighborhoods surrounding Cabrini-Green have gentrified, civic leaders have called for transformation of the area, which lies just a mile north and slightly west of downtown.
On Tuesday, several condominium owners near the neighborhood urged city council to keep the empty plots as green space instead of building more mixed-income housing. Ald. Walter Burnett, 27th, said those empty plots will be used to keep promises to build mixed-income housing the city has made to Cabrini-Green residents displaced by the project.
“I’m all for it,” said Burnett, who grew up in Cabrini-Green. “This will not only support the residents of Cabrini-Green or the former residents of CHA. This will benefit residents who need affordable housing, but it will also benefit residents who are already homeowners there, as nothing has happened here that has not improved the value of their property.
Over the past two decades, the area has been redeveloped with luxury condos, new school buildings, beautified parks, and upscale retail stores and restaurants – and property values have increased exponentially, all like taxes. The city has set aside increased revenue to continue funding the redevelopment. The Near North TIF became the fourth in terms of revenue among the city’s 140 or so TIF districts.
Already 23 years old, the TIF district was due to disappear this year, which would mean that the property tax money created in the area would start to flow into the general city fund.
Last year, the Lightfoot administration quietly obtained permission from the Illinois legislature to expand the TIF, which includes the former Cabrini-Green skyscraper site. City officials said the money would help finally finish the city’s long-delayed plans to reshape the area. In 2015, the agency published a three-phase plan to redevelop empty plots with up to 2,830 residences by 2025.
Former Cabrini-Green residents have fought for more than 25 years against several city governments to keep Daley’s promise to replace the homes of low-income families displaced during the controversial Cabrini-Green shave.