Post-Amazon Chicago: Mayor Seeks $1.7 Billion in Subsidies for Downtown Developments

Making the case that proposed developments won't come to fruition with support from tax increment financing, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is moving quickly to shore up development plans now that Amazon has moved on.

1 minute read

November 7, 2018, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Illinois

Abdulzhelilova Susan / Shutterstock

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel was planning to fast-track $1.7 billion in subsidies to unlock the development potential of four massive projects in and around downtown even before Chicago appeared to have lost the competition for Amazon’s second North American headquarters," reports Fran Spielman.

By subsidies, Spielman is referring to tax increment financing, set up specifically to protect taxpayers from risk. "Instead of fronting developers the money and being reimbursed when property taxes generated by new development start rolling in, developers will be asked to bankroll infrastructure improvements and be repaid after the fact," explains Spielman.

As for the development sites: "They include a Chicago River district where Tribune Media wants to build 15 office and residential towers; 'The 78,' a 62-acre site at Roosevelt and Clark once owned by convicted felon Tony Rezko, where Gov. Bruce Rauner dreams of building an innovation center led by the University of Illinois; the Lincoln Yards site, which includes the old Finkl Steel plant among 100 acres along the river, and the Burnham Lakefront, an area that includes the old Michael Reese Hospital site."

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