CHICAGO — A coalition of groups Tuesday called for city officials to delay plans to fuel massive developments that will transform Chicago’s landscape with 16,000 new apartments and condominiums. The coalition wants to pause a vote on $1.6 billion in city subsidies until a study can determine whether it would “deepen inequity” in Chicago.
Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards, a $6 billion, 6,000-unit mega-project along the North Branch of the Chicago River relies on $900 million to be used for infrastructure from the proposed 168-acre Cortland and Chicago River Redevelopment Area (F2018-72).
Related Midwest’s plans for a new neighborhood between the South Loop and Chinatown dubbed “The 78” relies on $700 million to be used for infrastructure from the proposed 141-acre Roosevelt/Clark Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Area (F2018-71).
The 78 and Lincoln Yards have been approved by the City Council.
Votes to create both tax-increment financing districts are expected to take place at the April 8 Finance Committee meeting, and the full City Council could act as soon as April 10 at Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s last regular City Council meeting as mayor.
The Rev. Liala Beukema, pastor of LakeView Lutheran Church, said the area between Bucktown and Lincoln Park slated to become Lincoln Yards is “hardly blighted and not in need of a city subsidy.”
However, the Community Development Commission and the Chicago Plan Commission endorsed a report from the Department of Planning and Development that found the area was blighted with vacant buildings and a defunct steel mill.
The Racial Impact Equity Assessment would be conducted by Chicago United for Equity, a nonprofit group, that would compile data and hold community meetings.
Chicago United for Equity Executive Director Niketa Brar said the assessment would be similar to a traffic study or environmental impact report.
“Leaders and community members should understand the consequences before making a decision,” Brar said.
Grassroots Collaborative organizer Marcos Ceniceros said the study is needed to determine whether the project will “lessen or exacerbate the divide.”
Only Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) joined the coalition’s news conference. He was one of 14 aldermen to vote against approving Lincoln Yards earlier this month.
Supporters of the projects hope their approvals will signal the final transformation of Chicago from an industrial behemoth to a city poised for growth in the 21st Century, while critics contend the projects offers only “crumbs” to the rest of the city.
During the debate during the City Council meeting March 13, aldermen who voted against the project said it would but barely put a dent in Chicago’s affordable housing shortfall or reduce the economic or racial segregation plaguing the city.
“This is the rich getting richer,” Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) said during the debate. “The North Side getting north-er.”
Both Toni Preckwinkle and Lori Lightfoot have called for both projects to be delayed until after the new mayor and City Council are sworn in May 20.