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Lincoln Yards Mega-Development Clears Final Legislative Hurdle

A Chicago City Council vote to approve tax increment financing for the massive Lincoln Yards redevelopment proposal scored a surprising reversal and a big win for outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with an assist from Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot.
April 17, 2019, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Antwon McMullen

Last week, the Chicago City Council approved $2 billion in tax increment financing for the Lincoln Yards mega-development only 48 hours after outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced intentions to delay the vote to honor the desires of Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot. The latter's election was considered in small part a referendum on the project, given her public questioning of the project.

Shia Kapos and Arienne Hurst report that Mayor-elect Lightfoot was able to negotiate a few changes for the development, signing off on the agreement and helping clear the way for the City Council vote before taking office in May. More from Kapos and Hurst on Mayor-elect Lightfoot's public announcements on the project before last week's council vote:

“I am appreciative” of Emanuel and Finance Committee Chairman Patrick O’Connor “agreeing to defer Monday’s vote,” Lightfoot said in the statement, adding that after “subsequent discussions” with the mayor, community stakeholders and a number of aldermen “we expect that this deal is likely to pass.”

Lightfoot said she also had “productive meetings” with the Sterling Bay and Related Midwest development team. As a result of those conversations, the mayor-elect says “developers agreed to meaningfully strengthen their commitments to minority-owned and women-owned business enterprises” from $80 million to $400 million overall participation and that they would comply with “explicit controls” for the city to measure and require compliance. “These changes represent a vital sign that my administration will be able to make progress toward an equitable and fair deal for our communities.”

For additional background on the project, and the TIF that will help finance it, see also coverage by Jay Koziarz.

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