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Roseland, Pullman

Red Line Extension TIF Approved, Sending Nearly $1 Billion To Far South Side Project Over 35 Years

Alderpeople approved a "transit TIF" district covering properties up to a half-mile from the Red Line between Madison Street and Pershing Road.

A CTA Red Line train passes through the 79th Street station on Aug. 9, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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ROSELAND — City Council approved the creation of a district that will send nearly $1 billion in tax revenue over the next few decades to extend the Red Line south of 95th Street, a major step toward completing the project after a half-century of false starts.

The Red Line Extension is the CTA’s $3.6 billion plan to extend the Red Line nearly 6 miles and move its terminal from 95th Street to 130th Street.

Mayor Richard J. Daley promised to extend the Red Line beyond 95th Street when the Dan Ryan terminal opened in 1969, but those plans never came to fruition. The latest proposal would see stations built at 103rd and 111th streets near Eggleston Avenue, at Michigan Avenue near 116th Street and at 130th Street near Altgeld Gardens.

Alderpeople on Wednesday approved a “transit TIF” district covering properties up to a half-mile from the Red Line between Madison Street and Pershing Road. Property tax revenue increases from the district will be funneled south into the Red Line Extension project for 35 years.

The transit TIF could raise up to $959 million, funding nearly a quarter of the Red Line Extension. It will also meet most of a required “local match” for federal New Starts funding the CTA is pursuing, bolstering the agency’s case as it asks the feds to cover about 60 percent of the project’s costs.

“Congratulations to the Far South Side,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. “It’s a long, long, long time coming … . It’s absolutely needed; it gives us the opportunity to take advantage of historic federal dollars.”

The 3rd, 4th, 11th, 25th and 42nd wards will be included in the TIF district. Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) was the only objector to the plan.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), in whose ward much of the Red Line Extension would be built, was in favor of the transit TIF Wednesday even as he’s spoken out against placing so much of the burden of funding on the city.

“It’s very important that you all understand that our community has been disconnected, and we’re looking forward to getting this connection [50] years later,” Beale said. “I’m just hoping that I’m around long enough to see it.”

The state and the county must contribute more funding to the project, as the Red Line Extension will be a boost to the entire region, several aldermen said.

TIF money “should be funding these kinds of projects,” but “the city of Chicago definitely must also urge the state of Illinois to help us to bring more resources to the line,” Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) said.

“We need to create public infrastructure in areas of need in the city of Chicago, and we also must discuss how we address inequities within the property tax system … with the state of Illinois,” he said.

Dowell, who was the lone vote against the TIF in Tuesday’s finance committee meeting, has criticized the TIF plan as taking “money from one area of the city and [shifting] it miles away from the residents who generated the funding.”

CTA officials and supporters have justified funneling tax revenue out of Near South Side wards by saying the benefits of a Red Line Extension will be seen across the entire Red Line, as Far South Siders will have easier access to jobs, shops and entertainment along the route.

The Red Line extension can also spur economic development and tourism on the Far South Side, but that comes with the risk of gentrification and displacement, residents have said.

Local hiring for the Red Line Extension project; better collaboration between the CTA, Metra and Pace; and quality-of-life improvements are among Far South Side residents’ demands as the project moves forward.

To that end, the CTA is working on an “equitable transit-oriented development” study alongside the Cook County Land Bank and the city’s planning and housing departments, officials said.

The Red Line Extension “will be one of the single largest investments on the Far South Side in more than half a century and its impact cannot be overstated,” said Abraham Lacy, president of the Far South Community Development Corporation.

The new stations would support several development projects backed by the Far South Side group, including a 111th Street station that would support the Roseland Community Medical District.

“The Red Line Extension is not just a transportation improvement,” Lacy said in a statement. “It ties into significant ongoing equitable development work in this region that Far South CDC and other groups have been advocating for and championing for decades.”

The Red Line Extension transit TIF is the second of its kind in Illinois, after a transit TIF was created to fund nearly 30 percent of the Red and Purple Line Modernization Project’s first phase.

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