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Obama Library Lease, 19 Acres For $10, Goes Before Aldermen Today

The City Council will vote on a revised agreement that will allow the Obama Presidential Center to be built in Jackson Park.

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CITY HALL — A revised agreement that will allow the Obama Presidential Center to be built in Jackson Park — but acknowledges that the $500 million project could push long time South Side residents out of their homes — is at the top of the agenda for Wednesday’s full City Council meeting.

The agreement requires the Department of Planning and Development to monitor “property values and other indicators and implement appropriate measures,” Commissioner David Reifman told aldermen.

The revised master agreement, use agreement and environmental agreement between the Obama Foundation and the city turns over 19.3 acres of city land to the foundation for 99 years for the nominal cost of $10.

Obama’s presidential museum will be part of a four-building campus that includes an underground parking facility, a plaza, play areas, pedestrian and bicycle paths and landscaped open space. It is scheduled to break ground next year and open in 2022. Those plans were approved in May by the City Council, and the city will own the center once it is built, according to the agreement.

The City Council will also consider a measure that closes the southern portion of Midway Plaisance Drive and Cornell Drive and widens south Stony Island Avenue and the northern portion of Midway Plaisance Drive. It also calls for the installation of barrier walls and stop lights on Hayes Drive.

The state budget approved in May included $172 million to cover the cost of closing the roads through Jackson Park to make way through the center.

Credit: Obama Foundation
A night view rendering of the Obama Presidential Center.

Tribune redevelopment on tap

Aldermen are also expected to give final approval to plans to remake formerly industrial land along the Chicago River west of The Loop with a massive redevelopment of the Tribune printing plant.

The $2.5 billion project at 777 W. Grand Ave. will include 14 mixed-use buildings and nearly 4,100 residential units once completed. It could break ground in 2020, officials said.

The first phase between Grand Avenue and the Ohio Street feeder ramp includes four buildings, ranging between 12 stories and 50 stories, with 1,500 units between them.

Under the city’s affordable housing ordinance, 300 of the units in the first phase will be set aside for low- and moderate-income residents. The final three phases call for 3,600 more residential units to be built and 520 set aside as affordable on site, officials said.

The first phase will include a 1.6 acre riverfront park. Once the development is completed, it will have 12 acres of public open space, which will cover approximately half the site.

In addition, the developer of the project plans to pay $67 million into the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund in return for permission to add more units than city law would otherwise allow. Eighty percent of those funds are then used for grants designed to spur investment on the West, Southwest and South Sides.

Credit: Solomon Cordwell Buenz
A rendering of the proposed development on what is now the Tribune printing plant.

That would be the largest contribution to the fund in its history, topping the $22 million set to be paid by the developers of 110 N. Wacker Drive by more than 200 percent, officials said.

Because the project is on formerly industrial land, the developer will also pay $13.7 million into the Industrial Corridor System Fund, its first significant contribution, officials said.

Aldermen will also consider plans for the redevelopment of Union Station — long a priority for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd.)

Plans call for a one-story 400-room hotel to be built above the station’s head house, which contains the station’s iconic great hall. Several floors of office space currently used by Amtrak would be replaced, per plans from Riverside Investment & Development and Convexity Properties.

The second phase of the project features a 50-story office tower and 2.3 acre public park at the site of an existing Amtrak parking garage across the street from the station.

Aldermen will also consider a new five-year contract with AFSCME Council 31, which represents 3,375 employees in various job classifications throughout the city. The agreement, which runs through July 2022, includes 10.5 percent raises during the life of the agreement, while employees will pay slightly more for healthcare.

However, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) will not force a vote on his demand for a hearings on the failure of Chicago Public Schools officials to properly investigate and report sexual abuse complaints filed by students as exposed by the Tribune’s “Betrayed” investigation. Instead, Joanna Klonsky, a spokesman for Waguespack, said Education Committee Chairman Ald. Howard Brookins (21) agreed to hold a hearing Nov. 28, removing the need for a vote.

Waguespack, the chairman of the Progressive Caucus, Women’s Caucus Chairwoman Ald. Leslie Hairston (5), Black Caucus Chairman Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6), Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10), Latino Caucus Chairman Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36), Ald. Ameya Pawar (47) and Ald. Harry Osterman (48) first called for the hearings in June — but the demand has been stalled since then.

Before the City Council meets at 10 a.m., the Finance Committee will meet at 9 a.m. to consider two items left over from its marathon Monday meeting.

  • Housing discrimination based on immigration status ban — This measure from Ald. Ed Burke(14th), Ald. Danny Solis (25th), and Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) would prohibit landlords from discriminating against undocumented immigrants when choosing tenants . The ordinance noted the Illinois General Assembly “approved a bill which would protect alienage in housing, and has yet to be signed by the governor.” It would add the word “alienage” to the city’s list of protected classes. 
  • Commuter train study — An intergovernmental agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation and METRA to develop methods to improve the flow of train traffic into and out of Union Station. The bulk of the $6 million cost for the study will be funded by the federal and state government, but the agreement calls for the city to contribute $1 million. Alds. Leslie Hairston (5th), Roderick Sawyer (6th) and Toni Foulkes (16th) voted against the measure because it was not clear what percentage of the work would go to firms owned by Blacks, Latinos or women. Finance Committee Chairman Ald. Ed Burke (14th) asked that aldermen be provided additional information about contracting set asides before the item is considered by the full City Council.

Other developments slated for approval:

  • O2018-7759 — A $1.1 billion project to build three towers set to rise 85, 50 and 40 stories tall along Lake Shore Drive south of Wacker Drive. The towers from developers Magellan Group and Lendlease and designed by bKL Architecture will include 1,700 residential units, officials said. Related coverage
  • O2018-7749 — A 41-story, 356-unit tower with shops on the ground floor at 353 W. Grand Ave. The $90 million project will contribute $5.8 million into the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund and include 36 units on site for low- and moderate-income residents.
  • O2018-7754 —  A 42-story tower will replace the Engine Co. 42 firehouse at 444 N. Dearborn St. that will include a new Chicago Fire Department facility.
  • O2018-4930O2018-5006 — An eight-story building with 197 units at 1505-35 N. Dayton St. along with 56 parking spaces on what is now the nonprofit Menomonee Club community center in the Clybourn Corridor. The $45 million project will include five affordable units on site and pay $1.93 million into the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund, officials said.

Other items up for approval:

  • O2018-3286 — A measure to create the Office of Labor Standards, which will be charged with investigating companies that do not pay minimum wage or violate the city’s paid sick leave policy. Related coverage
  • Agreements to settle three lawsuits for a combined $745,000 alleging misconduct by members of the Chicago Police Department. Related coverage
  • O2018-8052 — A redevelopment agreement that will bring a new Shop & Save market to 71st Street and Jeffery Avenue in the 5th Ward to replace a former Dominick’s grocery store that closed in 2013. Related coverage
  • O2018-5006 — A measure to create a registry of Chicago murals that requires the Department of Streets and Sanitation to check before painting over or blasting away after a graffiti complaint. Each mural on the registry would get a three-dimensional “medallion” that would mark a mural as a registered and permitted piece of art to serve as another warning to crews to leave it alone. Related coverage
  • O2018-7004 — New rules for high-rise signs as part of a proposal from Mayor Rahm Emanueldesigned to convince tech giant Salesforce to make its home in a new riverfront skyscraper. Related coverage
  • SO2018-7767 — An affordable housing program backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel dubbed the Building Neighborhoods and Affordable Homes program that would use $5 million in funding from the city’s Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund to help a maximum of 100 low- and moderate-income Chicagoans purchase newly-built affordable homes in Garfield Park/Humboldt Park; North Lawndale; South Lawndale; Englewood Square; and Woodlawn by offering up to $60,000 in assistance to support the purchase of homes built through the City Lots for Working Families program, which sells vacant, city-owned lots to developers of affordable single-family and two-flat homes for $1 each. Related coverage
  • O2018-7783 — An agreement to allow the Single Room Housing Assistance Corp. to purchase the former Melody Elementary School site at 412 S. Keeler Ave. for $80,000.
  • O2018-7793 — An agreement to allow VLV Development and Financial Services to purchase the former Yale Elementary School site at 7025 S. Princeton Ave. for $65,000 and transform in to the Climate Leadership Innovation Center.
  • O2018-7768 — An agreement to sell seven city-owned parcels at Roosevelt Road and Richmond Street for $1 each to A Safe Haven Foundation. The project, located across the street from Douglas Park, will include 90 affordable residential units, including 75 earmarked for Chicago Housing Authority residents.
  • O2018-7776R2018-999R2018-1000 — Recommendations for three property tax breaks in the 11th, 14th and 47th wards.
  • O2018-7020O2018-7738O2018-7739 — Three measures that would ban new home-sharing sites in the 28th, 30th and 41st precincts of the 13th Ward.
  • O2018-7758 — A measure to use $48,500 from Open Space Impact Fees to purchase a vacant plot of land at 4546 N. Kedvale Ave., near Mayfair’s border with Old Irving Park and Portage Park, and transform it into a park.
  • O2018-7272O2018-7263O2018-7276 — Three measures to create a new 116th and Avenue O tax increment financing district in the 10th Ward.

Appointments up for approval:

  • A2018-104 — Angeles “Angie” Sandoval to the Chicago Community Land Trust
  • A2018-105 — Michael EaddyRhoda D. Sweeney and Ghian Foreman to the Chicago Police Board
  • A2018-100A2018-101 — Elvin Charity and Eduardo M. Cotillas to the Chicago-Gary Airport Authority
  • A2018-103 — Darrell Williams to the City Colleges of Chicago Board of Trustees
  • A2018-97 — James Sweeney and Elizabeth G. Coolidge to the Chicago Infrastructure Trust