CHICAGO — Community groups have sued the city in a bid to repeal the Lincoln Yards TIF.
The suit, brought on behalf of the Grassroots Collaborative and Raise Your Hand, alleges the city has used the TIF system in a “racially and ethnically discriminatory” way to benefit white-majority areas, according to a news release.
The groups hope the lawsuit can serve as a challenge to the Lincoln Yards TIF, which was approved by City Council last week, and to how the city uses TIFs in general.
The Lincoln Yards TIF — technically called the Cortland and Chicago River TIF — is expected to generate at least $900 million to cover the cost of infrastructure projects to pave the way for Lincoln Yards to be built, including new bridges over the Chicago River, a new Metra station, an extension of the 606 trail, water taxis, dedicated bicycle lanes as well as a potential light-rail transit way and extension of the city’s street grid.
But the development and the taxpayer money being used for it have long generated controversy, leading to protests outside City Hall when the TIF was approved, 32-12, last week.
“The creation of the Cortland and Chicago River TIF District for a luxury development in an affluent area of the city is a blatant example of just how off course Chicago has gone from the original intention of the TIF program,” said Amisha Patel, executive director of the Grassroots Collaborative, in the news release.
“We have seen firsthand the racial inequality that TIFs have created. Immediate action is required to bring the TIF program back in line and ensure that our property tax dollars are spent equitably.”
The groups behind the suit hope it will also force city leaders to “reform its TIF process to be fair, lawful and nondiscriminatory,” said attorney Aneel Chablani, whose Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights is representing Raise Your Hand and the Grassroots Collaborative.
Lincoln Yards is a $6 billion project that aims to turn 55 acres along the North Branch of the Chicago River into a new neighborhood with housing and retail.
The development is set to include 600 affordable housing units.