Investor Skepticism Shrinks Infrastructure Trust's First Project

21 months after Chicago's Infrastructure Trust was launched by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the program finally has its first approved project. After delays and substantial downsizing, Bank of America will invest $13 million in energy efficiency improvements.
January 23, 2014, 1pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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With an assist from former President Bill Clinton, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled his plans for an infrastructure bank to fund investment in energy-efficiency improvements, transportation and other projects with great fanfare nearly two years ago. Though the program has been discussed as a pioneering public-private partnership with the potential to change the way our cities get built, it has struggled to fulfill its promise

Last week, the program finally won approval for its first project–energy efficiency improvements in public buildings–"but only after the work was scaled back again due to lack of interest from investors," reports Bill Ruthhart.

“This is the only project. It’s been about two years since we approved (the trust), and this is the project we have, a $13 million retrofit project,” said Ald. John Arena, 45th. “(The trust) is not what it was sold to do.”

"Emanuel once featured the infrastructure trust as a staple in his speeches, listing it among his early successes, but the mayor rarely mentions it now," notes Ruthhart. "Nor was the infrastructure trust project approval mentioned Wednesday in the collection of news releases the mayor’s press office puts out after each council meeting to highlight the administration’s victories."

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Published on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 in Chicago Tribune
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