53rd Street in Hyde Park on June 3, 2021. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

HYDE PARK — A local tax district that pays for services along Hyde Park’s main business corridors is up for renewal.

Hyde Park’s Special Service Area No. 61 wants a 10-year extension. If the district isn’t renewed, it would expire this year.

The state and the city grant these districts the power to collect taxes to pay for services and programs within their boundaries. Special service areas work to attract customers, beautify public spaces, improve sustainability, encourage economic development and support public safety and health programs.

The Hyde Park taxing district has existed since 2013 and roughly covers 53rd Street from Woodlawn to Lake Park avenues; Lake Park Avenue from 51st to 55th streets; and 55th Street from Lake Park Avenue to South Hyde Park Boulevard.

It sponsors the Hyde Park Farmers Market and the 4th on 53rd Parade. It also pays for the installation and upkeep of public art like “Harold’s Parakeets,” façade rebates to business owners, bike racks and a host of other projects.

The South East Chicago Commission is the district’s nonprofit service provider and applied to renew the tax district in November.

“We keep this community vibrant,” program manager Rod Sawyer said at a community meeting Tuesday. “We keep this community filled with the services that residents want and people will come and visit us for.”

53rd Street in Hyde Park on June 3, 2021.

The commission must collect signatures of support representing at least 20 percent of the properties within the the special service area’s boundaries.

At least 10 percent must be collected by June 9, while the full requirement must be met by Aug. 1. A public hearing on the proposal would be held at City Hall in the fall.

Officials are confident they can meet that goal, as “we know who the property owners are” and are in contact with them, Sawyer said.

Supporters secured signatures representing about half of properties before the district was founded in 2013, Sawyer said. They’re aiming for similar support this time around, he said.

“We’re trying to go well above the 20 percent … because that’s the minimum, but that’s almost like a minority imposing on the majority,” Sawyer said. “What we want is as many as we can.”

The current tax rate, primarily collected from commercial properties or mixed-use properties within the district’s boundaries, is about 0.65 percent and generated just less than $300,000 for the district’s 2023 budget, officials said.

Supporters plan to keep the same tax rate, which would cost an owner about $579 per $100,000 of the property’s equalized assessed value. The existing boundaries would stay in place, except for the removal of seven properties on the north side of 53rd Street.

Challenges facing Hyde Park’s business corridors in the coming years include a need for more commercial space in the neighborhood, improved public safety and more services for shops on 53rd Street east of the rail viaduct, officials said.

Newly inaugurated Ald. Lamont Robinson (4th), a former commissioner of Bronzeville’s taxing district, praised the Hyde Park group Tuesday for improving the corridors in its first decade.

For more information on the renewal process, visit SSA No. 61’s website.

The 53rd Street TIF District, which is active through 2025, is separate from the taxing district.

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