Chicago News

  • The Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development approved roughly $3.3M in property tax breaks over twelve years for Chicago-based companies looking to expand on dilapidated industrial sites yesterday.

    Members also advanced Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s four appointees to the Community Development Commission (CDC), an independent body that oversees the city’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts and Special Redevelopment Areas. One of the appointees, Gwendolyn Butler, was absent from the meeting, but the committee approved her nomination anyway.

    Committee Members Present: (10/20 members) - Vice Chairman Leslie Hairston (5), Joe Moreno (1), Gregory Mitchell (7), Patrick Daley Thompson (11), Toni Foulkes (16), David Moore (17), Michael Scott, Jr. (24), Jason Ervin (28), Gilbert Villegas (36), John Arena (45)

    Three of Mayor Emanuel’s four nominees to the Community Development Commission (CDC) made brief statements before the Committee quickly approved their appointments. Other than Ald. David Moore (17) asking each appointee to explain what they expect to bring to the board, few questions were asked. Each appointee spoke for less than five minutes.

    Cornelius Griggs, a native of the Austin community on Chicago’s West Side, told aldermen he has served on Chicago’s Community Land Trust, in addition to working for TRIO, a national organization that lobbies in Washington, D.C. on behalf of low income students.

    Griggs was followed by Celena Roldan Moreno, the Executive Director of Erie Neighborhood House and 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno’s wife. When Ald. Moore asked Roldan Moreno to explain what she brings to the table, Moreno said she brings “an important community perspective of what it means to do community development,” and is familiar with the needs of low income, vulnerable populations. Ald. Joe Moreno (1) invoked Rule 14 and abstained from voting to approve his wife to the 15 member panel.

    The third appointee, Philip Alphonse, gave a brief synopsis of his resume, highlighting his experience founding The Vistria Group, a private equity firm that manages $350 million and focuses on education, healthcare, and financial services. Alphonse has lived in Chicago for 13 years and lives in Roscoe Village.

    The Committee also approved four Class 6(b) real estate tax incentives for several Chicago-based companies interested in expanding their operations. Most of the companies started in the Fulton Market district, but can no longer afford rent in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.

    The class 6(b) real estate tax incentive is intended to reduce vacant industrial real estate in Cook County by providing businesses with a lower tax rate if they commit to rehabbing existing buildings or constructing new industrial property. Properties given the designation are assessed at 10% of market value for the first 10 years, 15% in the 11th year and 20% the 12th year. Industrial buildings that don’t receive the designation are assessed at 25% of market value. And while the following resolutions list the corresponding aldermen for the ward in which the property is located as the sponsor, this press release attributes the applications to the Mayor.

    Altogether, the applicants plan to spend more than $16M renovating or building on those sites.

    Economy Packing Company
    R2015-568 | 4501 W. 42nd Place |  23rd Ward

    According to the testimony from John Malloy, with the Department of Planning and Development, the applicant, Economy Packing Company, seeks a Class 6(b) Property Tax Incentive for the acquisition and rehabilitation of the 96,000 sq ft. warehouse on 4501 W. 42nd Place. Founded in 1932 and originally located in Fulton Market, Economy Packing Company is a wholesale distributor of fresh and frozen foods, and a poultry processor. It recently acquired Sam’s Meat.

    Both companies will move into the space formerly occupied by Kronos Euro, a Mediterranean food distributor that relocated out of Chicago in 2009, Malloy said. Economy Packing will spend approximately $4.9 million in renovations. If the Class 6(b) designation is approved by the full City Council, the company is estimated to save approximately $1.2 million dollars in property taxes over the 12 year incentive period.

    REWL Venture, LLC on behalf of Marilyn Miglin, LP
    R2015-571 | 315-321 N. Loomis St., 324 N. Odgen Ave. | 27th Ward

    Marilyn Engwall, with the Department of Planning and Development, testified on behalf of the applicant, REWL Venture, a limited liability company created in 2013 for the redevelopment of the project site on 315 N. Loomis St. The applicant has spent $1.9 million on upgrading the three-story, 21,00 sq ft facility for Marilyn Miglin, LP, a Chicago-based beauty products company started in 1963. The company has already leased 65% of its available space and plans to use the facility as a warehouse and distribution center. The company will save approximately $261,000 in property taxes if the designation is approved by the City Council.

    Wichita Packing Co; Elizabeth St. Partners, LLC
    R2015-573 | 340 N. Oakley Blvd; 333-340 N. Claremont | 27th Ward

    Chicago-based Wichita Packing Company, a pork ribs processor and distributor, seeks a property tax incentive to help buy and rehab a 50,000 sq ft building on 340 N. Claremont Ave, on the Near West Side. Founded nearly a decade ago, the company was originally located in the Fulton Market District, and is interested in expanding its facilities. According to Essie Banks, with the Department of Planning and Development, the applicant plans to spend $4.1 million on renovations and would save $477,691 on property taxes over the next 12 years if the designation is approved the City Council.

    4GP, LLC on behalf of Primrose Candy Company
    R2015-570 -1800-1856 N. Kostner Ave.; 4419 W. Cortland St. | 36th Ward

    Marilyn Engwall, with the Department of Planning and Development, also testified on behalf of Primrose Candy Company, a 4th generation family owned business specializing in hard candy and popcorn confections. The property tax incentive would help support the $5.2 million rehabilitation of a 151,000 sq ft building in Hermosa, in addition to potentially saving the company $1.373 million in property taxes over the next 12 years.
  • Now that former federal prosecutor and Chicago Police investigator Lori Lightfoot is in place as president of the Chicago Police Board, the City Council Committee on Public Safety is slated to consider three more appointments to nine member independent body tasked with deciding disciplinary action against cops accused of misconduct.

    The three Mayoral appointees to the Chicago Police Board include a major donor to the Mayor’s re-election fund and an immigration lawyer:

    • John Simpson is a partner at Broadhaven Capital Partners with over 30 years of experience as a head investment banker and financial services executive, according to his company bio. Before joining Broadhaven, he was Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of Canyon Partners and a former Vice Chairman of Wasserstein Perella & Co. He donated $52,800 to Chicago for Rahm Emanuel and $25,000 to Chicago Forward this past election cycle.

    • Claudia Valenzuela is an Associate Director of Litigation at the Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center, an organization that provides legal services to immigrants. She represents non-citizens facing deportation before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and in federal court.

    • William Conlon (re-appointment) is a partner at Sidley Austin LLP. He was first appointed to the board in 2011 and is a former Assistant United States Attorney.

  • Mayor Rahm Emanuel will unveil his proposed FY 2016 budget to the City Council on Thursday, September 22, according to a timeline his office released yesterday. But before he brings his spending guidelines to the Council Chambers, he’ll follow a tradition established by Mayor Richard M. Daley by holding three town hall meetings with members of his finance team that will be open to the public. Residents will have the opportunity to provide their ideas in person and on social media during the public meetings with the hashtag #ChiBudget2016. Representatives from various City Departments will be on hand to answer questions related to specific city services. Each meeting starts at 6:30 pm, with doors opening an hour earlier:

    • Monday, August 31: Malcolm X College, 1900 West Van Buren Street

    • Wednesday, September 2: South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 South South Shore Drive

    • Thursday, September 3: Wright College, 4300 North Narragansett Avenue

  • There are four Mayoral appointees to the Community Development Commission (CDC) slated for aldermanic confirmation this afternoon, including 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno’s wife, Celena Roldan Moreno.

    Roldan Moreno currently serves as the Executive Director for Erie Neighborhood House, a social services agency. She also served as a member of Mayor Emanuel’s Education Transition Team and Early Childhood Task Force, two initiatives the mayor rolled out during his first term in office.

    If approved to the CDC, Moreno will serve with 14 other members, whose job is to review and recommend the creation of new Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, Redevelopment Area designations, and appointments to the various Community Conservation Councils across the city. The CDC also reviews and recommends action on the sale of city-owned property in TIF districts and Redevelopment Areas, as well as allocating TIF funds for private redevelopment projects.

    In addition to Moreno, Mayor Emanuel has nominated:

    • Gwendolyn Butlervice chairwoman and chief marketing officer for Capri Investment Group, LLC, a global real estate investment manager. She specializes in raising capital for the firm’s global investments. Prior to Capri, Butler worked for UBS Global Asset Management, Bear Stearns, and SEI. She is the former Chair of the national Association of Securities Professionals and a past President of the Board of Directors of the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago. [LinkedIn]

    • Cornelius Griggs, Managing Partner, GMA of Illinois.

    • Philip Alphonse, a partner in the The Vistria Group, a private equity firm focused on education, healthcare, and financial services. The Vistria Group was founded by Marty Nesbitt, who also founded the airport parking company The Parking Spot with U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. Alphonse also worked at private equity firm Sterling Partners for ten years. [LinkedIn]

    In addition to the Mayoral appointees, four aldermanic requests for a tax break on large, industrial properties in the 23rd, 27th, and 36th Wards will be discussed. The class 6(b) real estate tax incentive is intended to reduce vacant industrial real estate in Cook County by providing businesses with a lower tax rate if they commit to rehabbing vacant industrial buildings or constructing new industrial property. Properties receiving the designation are assessed at 10% of market value for the first 10 years, 15% in the 11th year and 20% the 12th year. Industrial buildings that don’t receive the designation are assessed at 25% of market value.
  • Some political watchers might’ve been surprised when 39th Ward Democratic Committeeman Randy Barnette was replaced at last week’s slating. But Barnette, the husband of 39th Ward Alderman and Council President Pro Temp Marge Laurino, said the move was a long time coming. “It was only abrupt to people who didn’t know,” Barnette told Aldertrack. “I wanted to get through last election with my wife, then I got this new job at a suburban college these last couple weeks.” He said his departure was timed precisely to let the organization elect a new committeeman in time for slating.

    And it’s time for new blood, he says. That new blood is Patrick Molloy, the Director of Government and Public Affairs for the Chicago Public Library and a life-long 39th Ward resident who Barnette calls a “good kid.”

    “I learned around the end of July that Committeeman Barnette was planning to resign from his position in early August. After discussing it with my wife and some others close to me, I decided that I would be interested in running for the office,” Molloy said in a written statement to Aldertrack.

    He’s thought about running for the seat for a long time, and plans to run for election in the upcoming primary against Robert Murphy, an architect who lives in Forest Glen. Murphy co-founded the Fair Allocation in Runways (FAiR) Coalition that opposes O’Hare noise, and ran for alderman against Laurino in this year’s election, but lost by 1,100 votes.
  • 31st Ward Ald. Milly Santiago is teaming up with Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo, Jr. and State Representative Will Guzzardi to hold a back to school fair this Saturday. While their names aren’t listed in the press release the alderman’s office sent out last night, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, City Treasurer Kurt Summers, and Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown are expected to attend the event at Foreman College and Career Academy, Kevin Lamm, the alderman’s chief of staff says.

    When asked why Cook County Democratic Party Chairman and 31st Ward Committeeman Joe Berrios won’t be in attendance, since the event is in his backyard, Lamm said they weren’t “snubbing” the party chairman. Lamm said Summers and Brown reached out to the alderman to express interest in attending. It’s still unknown whether Ald. Santiago will challenge Berrios in the Committeeman race next year. She is weighing her options, Lamm says.
  • Cook County Democrats filled a handful of vacancies at Wednesday’s slating, including a new vacancy created by the surprise resignation of 39th Ward Committeeman, Randy BarnetteAld. Marge Laurino’s (39) husband. Barnette stepped down August 8, according to Jacob Kaplan, Executive Director of the Cook County Democratic Party, who confirmed the filled vacancies. The 39th Ward Democratic Organization and staff for Ald. Laurino did not respond to requests for comment.

    Barnette serves as chief of staff of the Cook County College Teachers Union, and as chairman of the College and University Credit Union Board of Directors.

    Patrick Molloy, the current Chairman of Friends of Margaret Laurino, will take his place.

    Before Barnette stepped down, he was facing a challenge from Robert Murphy, an architect who lives in Forest Glen, who is also active in 45th Ward politics. He co-founded the recently very active Fair Allocation in Runways (FAiR) Coalition that opposes O’Hare noise, and ran for alderman against Laurino in this year’s election. Murphy won the endorsement of the Chicago Tribune in 2015, who called him a “fresh thinker,” but lost to Laurino by 1,100 votes. He complained of ballot irregularities on his Facebook page.

    The 49th Ward Democratic Committeeman vacancy created by the death of David Fagus was filled by Ald. Joe Moore.

    The 24th Ward post has been filled by new Ald. Michael Scott, Jr. He filed a D-1 on July 13th to run for the position. The seat previously belonged to retired Ald. Michael Chandler.

    And the 36th Ward post, formerly occupied by now-38th Ward Ald. Nicholas Sposato, will be filled by State Rep. Luis Arroyo. Arroyo is broadly credited with architecting 36th Ward Ald. Gilbert Villegas’ campaign.
  • Speaking yesterday afternoon at the Illinois State Fair’s Democrats Day event in Springfield, Jesse White announced he would not, after 17 years as Illinois Secretary of State, run for reelection in 2018. His announcement, which was expected but still a surprise in its timing, immediately set in motion announcements and conjectures for who would fill his seat.

    Before the end of the day, Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough expressed her intention to run. “I absolutely do have plans to [run],” Yarbrough told Aldertrack last night. “I’m excited about the possibilities of running and hope that I can put together a team that can help me get there.”

    Yarbrough, who is also the Proviso Township Democratic Committeeman and African-American, is likely banking on following White’s path to Secretary of State. In 1998, he was Recorder of Deeds and the 27th Ward Democratic Committeeman.

    Earlier this week Yarbrough was slated by the Cook County Dems for Recorder of Deeds in 2016.

    A broad array of other Democrats have privately expressed interest in White’s seat over the years, including State Reps. John Bradley and Brandon Phelps, two of the few elected Democrats from south of I-70. In Chicago, sources say Hyde Park State Sen. Kwame Raoul, as well as Northwest Siders State Reps. Luis Arroyo and John D’Amico have expressed interest. Park Ridge State Sen. Dan Kotowski, a profligate fundraiser, is also a potential candidate.

    “Kotowski has been waiting for something. This could be it,” says one high-ranking Democratic Party official.

    Then there’s also the possibility that Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, or Evanston’s State Sen. Daniel Biss, both already eyeing runs for Illinois Comptroller in 2016, could just pivot now or after losing the statewide election and toss their hats into the ring in 2018.

    The Republican field is likely even broader. Jesse White has barely attracted any serious GOP opposition in the last 12 years, as he’s the most popular politician in Illinois, attracting 70%+ vote totals. Now that White’s will be off the ballot, Republicans will have the clearest shot to winning the Secretary of State spot they’ve had in decades.

    White has not made it clear if he intends to serve out his current term, which ends in 2018. If he were to leave soon, a special election could be scheduled next year to fill the spot. If he were to leave after the 2016 elections, Gov. Bruce Rauner could appoint someone to serve in an acting position until the end of the 2018 term.
  • The Chicago Plan Commission approved all items on yesterday's agenda, including a proposed boutique hotel in the Gold Coast, a glass skyscraper in the downtown Loop, a new brewery and beer garden for Half Acre in Bowmanville, and another Whole Foods in Lakeview. The projects now advance to the City Council’s Zoning Committee for approval.

    The meeting lasted for nearly four hours, with most of the public opposition directed toward the planned Viceroy Hotel in the Gold Coast. Developers are interested in demolishing the old four-story Cedar Hotel, and replacing it with an 18-story, 180 room hotel that would incorporate parts of Cedar’s historic, brick facade. Newly elected Ald. Brian Hopkins (2) testified in support, noting the “numerous” reductions the developer made to the original site plan. After several community meetings over two years, the developer cut 40 rooms and 53 ft. from the original plan, Hopkins said.

    But those residents who testified against the project demanded more concessions. Nearly a dozen residents, most of whom were affiliated with the group Preserve our Dearborn, created specifically to oppose this hotel plan, demanded a shorter building and more parking.

    “I think of [State St.] like a circulatory system,” concerned resident Jerry Silverman said. “That’s how things circulate in our neighborhood. When your circulatory system gets blocked up, you have a heart attack. And all I am suggesting is, that plan, as it’s laid out now, is going to give our community a heart attack.”

    Nevertheless, the project received unanimous support from the Plan Commission, while another contentious development proposal, Half Acre’s proposed brewery for Bowmanville, did not.

    Commissioner Linda Searl cast the lone vote against the beer company’s application to build a new brewery, taproom and beer garden in a predominantly residential neighborhood south of the Rosehill Cemetery.

    Half Acre bought the subject site, 2050 W. Balmoral Ave., currently zoned as a manufacturing district, so they could expand operations outside their current location on Lincoln Ave., less than two miles away. Since the location is zoned as a manufacturing district, brewing is already permitted as right of way, but their proposed taproom with adjoining restaurant is not allowed under the current designation.

    A handful of residents spoke in opposition to the project over concerns that the outdoor beer garden would bring additional car traffic and noise. “I dont want to raise my kids across the street from a liquor store,” local resident Ashley Katsia said, adding that the plans did not fit with the “tenor” of the neighborhood.

    “The growth of Half Acre Brewery is requiring them to move, which is a wonderful thing for the city of Chicago,” Commissioner Patricia Scudiero said. The project architect, Angel Valtierra with Space Architects, added the company was interested in creating a “family-style” atmosphere. Gabriel Magliaro, owner of Half Acre Brewery, said they wouldn’t be a nuisance to the surrounding residents.

    Half Acre wasn’t the only application to receive a divided roll call vote. Vice Chairman Smita Shah voted against a proposed four-story, 18 dwelling unit at 3418-3420 North Lincoln Avenue in the 47th Ward. Since the project is adjacent to the Paulina station on the CTA’s Brown Line, it qualifies as Transit Oriented Development (TOD), which means the applicant, Lincoln & Roscoe, LLC, was allowed to reduce on-site parking by 50%, increase the number of residential units by a third, and add an additional five feet to the building’s height.

    Resident Roberta Stevens testified against, telling the commission “I think the city should slow down on the TODs. Make sure you want to build it. It’s like watering a plant, and it grows, and grows, and grows and then it dies.”
  • The Cook County Democratic Party endorsed its slate for the March 15th, 2016 Primary. But there are two races where party leadership decided not to endorse any of the candidates: the U.S. Senate and State’s Attorney seats.

    Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Berrios said the party leadership would rather have an open primary for the Illinois U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Mark Kirk because “none of the five candidates who addressed them were able to garner sufficient votes for support”, according to a press release.

    “Our slate is an extremely diverse ticket, drawing from the suburbs as well as Chicago and individuals from various ethnicities,” Berrios said. “In the cases where we made no endorsements, there were simply too many qualified candidates for any one of them to receive the required number of votes for Party backing.”

    This means U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, immigrant rights activist Susana Sandoval, State Sen. Napoleon Harris, Cook County Board Commissioner Richard Boykin and former Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp will have to fight it out without the party’s support.

    Incumbent State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez will also have to fight her reelection without Cook County Democrats by her side. Her challengers include Donna More, Kim Foxx and Cook County Board Commissioner John Fritchey.

    The full list of endorsed candidates for the 2016 election:

    President of the United States: Hillary Clinton

    Illinois State Comptroller: Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza

    Clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court: Dorothy Brown (incumbent)

    Cook County Recorder of Deeds:  Karen Yarbrough (incumbent)

    Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (6-year terms):  Barbara McGowan (incumbent), Mariyana Spyropoulos (incumbent), as well as Josina Morita

    Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (2-year term): Tom Greenhaw

    Appellate Court: Justice Bertina Lampkin and Judge Eileen O’Neill Burke (Those selected as alternates: Associate Judge William Boyd, Judge Raul Vega and Associate Judge Leonard Murray)

    Cook County Board of Review, 2nd District: Incumbent Commissioner Michael Cabonargi

    Circuit Court Judge:  Judge Alison Conlon, Judge Daniel Patrick Duffy, Judge Rossana Fernandez, Judge Alexandra Gillespie, Maureen O’Donoghue Hannon, Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr., Brendan O’Brien and Judge Devlin Joseph Schoop. (Selected as alternates: Fredrick Bates, Sean Chaudhuri, Patrick Heneghan, Nichole Patton and Peter Michael Gonzalez)
  • The Chicago Plan Commission holds its monthly meeting this afternoon (agenda). Instead of meeting at their normal location in the City Council Chambers, the Board will convene in room 201A at 1:00 p.m. These are some of the large scale projects on the agenda:

    Proposed Viceroy Hotel, Gold Coast - 2nd Ward

    1118 N. State St. | Ordinance: O2014-973 | Introduced: 12/10/2014

    This plan is years in the making. The Viceroy Hotel Group wants to demolish the vacant Cedar Hotel in the Gold Coast so it can build an 18-story building with 180 hotel rooms, a restaurant on the ground floor, and an open green space on a 12,000 sq. ft. site. According to the design sketches produced by architecture firm Goettsch Partners, the new building will replicate the existing, red brick, decorative terra cotta facade, which is the “character defining feature” of the Cedar Hotel. The Los Angeles-based upscale boutique hotel chain has locations in Beverly Hills, Palm Springs, Miami, and New York. The applicant on file, Cedar Property, LLC, is seeking a zoning change from a DX-7 (Downtown Mixed Use District) to a Planned Development, because the proposed hotel exceeds the height threshold allowed under the current zoning designation. The applicant plans to make a $686,651 payment to the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund, in addition to applying for an Adopt-a-Landmark Bonus. Edward Kus, with the law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister, LLP, is the attorney on file. Don Wilson with DRW-M Investor LLC and Convexity Properties are also part of the venture.

    Deal for trendy Gold Coast hotel collapses, June 03, 2009, Crain’s Chicago.

    Viceroy Hotel picks Gold Coast for its Chicago domain, December 19, 2014, Crain’s Chicago.

    18 Story Viceroy Hotel to Open on State Street by 2017, March 5, 2015, Curbed Chicago.


    Proposed 53-Story Office Tower, Loop - 42nd Ward

    130 N. Franklin St.  | Ordinance: O2015-4174  | Introduced 5/20/2015
    Real estate developer Tishman Speyer has been trying for years to turn the surface parking lot and surrounding vacant land along 130 N. Franklin St. into an office highrise. The former site of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (1928-1972), later occupied by Henry Crown & Company until 1986, was eventually turned into a surface parking lot with space for more than 200 cars. Through a joint venture with Henry Crown & Company, the applicants, under the name 130 N. Franklin St., LLC, seek to build a 53-story office building along Franklin St. between Randolph and Washington. Plans include ground floor commercial retail, a restaurant, a minimum of 140 on-site parking spaces and a large outdoor plaza. The development plan designed by architecture firm Krueck + Sexton will be 65,000 sq. ft., with approximately 20,700 sq. ft.dedicated to the landscaped open green space. When Henry & Crown Company occupied the site in 1989, they successfully rezoned it into a Planned Development (PD 496). When the PD expired, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) rezoned the project site into a DC-16, Downtown Core District, a zoning classification intended to promote high density office and employment growth with mixed-use residential uses permitted. Developers are asking permission to rezone the area into a Business Planned Development.


    Angular Glass Tower at 130 North Franklin Moving Forward Wednesday, April 8, 2015, Curbed Chicago

    Get Your Funk On: Skyscraper Finally Coming to 130 North Franklin  January 22, 2015, Chicago Architecture Blog

    Proposed Half Acre Brewery - 40th Ward

    2050 W. Balmoral Ave. | Ordinance: O2015-4625 | Introduced: 6/17/2015
    Half Acre Brewery wants to build a 35,000 sq. ft. brewery with an adjoining tasting room and full service kitchen on the first floor, and office space on the second floor of the existing property, which is a little over a mile north of the beer company’s Lincoln Ave. location. The applicant on file, Bastion of Balmoral, LLC, has requested a zoning change from an M1-2 Manufacturing District to a C3-3 Commercial District, because the planned tasting room exceeds the maximum size permitted under the current designation by 4,000 sq. ft. And while the renderings prepared by Space Architects + Planners do not call for the expansion of the current building, Half Acre will add an outdoor beer garden and on-site parking for 33 cars. Gabriel Magliaro, owner of Half Acre Brewery, is managing member of GMB Partners LLC, which manages Bastion of Balmoral. In a blog post from March 2014 on Half Acre’s website, the company said it bought the 2050 W. Balmoral site to serve as an extension to their Lincoln Avenue tap room, about 5 minutes away. “The additional space will allow us to expand our distribution footprint to the entire Chicagoland area, add more onsite enjoyment at both locations and explore our interests as brewers and beyond.”

    Half Acre to open second Brewery, March 24, 2014, Chicago Tribune


    Parkway East Project, Lakeview - 44th Ward

    506-514 W. Diversey Parkway | Ordinance: O2015-4175 | Introduced: 5/20/2015
    Boston-based Broder Diversey, LLC wants to build an 11-story residential tower near Diversey Harbor, with 56 dwelling units and commercial retail at the base. The site is zoned as a B3-5 Community Shopping District and is currently a surface parking lot with a neighboring 3-story residential commercial building. The developers, which includes the Gabriel Development Group and LA Commercial, LLC, want to rezone the area into a Residential Business Planned Development divided into two sub areas, according to the sketches from architectural firm, Pappageorge Haymes Partners. The larger plot, Sub Area A, is 14,250 sq. ft. and will include a minimum of 53 parking spaces and residential units. The neighboring Sub Area B takes up 4,750 sq. ft. and includes a minimum of 3 residential units without parking. When the concept was first brought to the community in 2014, another proposed development project across the street in the neighboring 43rd Ward was also in the works. Lexington Homes, LLC had proposed building a 17-story condo on 523 W. Diversey Ave, the site of the former Market Place Food Store, but Ald. Michelle Smith announced last month in an email the developer had withdrawn its plans after “it became clear the current proposal could not be realistically modified to address neighborhood concerns.”
    High-Rise Development Could Still Become Reality, May 8, 2013, Lakeview Patch

    'Horrendous' Congestion Feared As Lakeview, Lincoln Park Projects Collide, September 9, 2014, DNAInfo


    Whole Foods, Lakeview - 44th Ward

    3201 N. Ashland Ave. | Ordinance: O2015-3703 | Introduced: 5/6/2015
    Novak Construction purchased the former LaSalle Bank site to build a new Whole Foods in the Lakeview neighborhood. The organic grocery chain already operates a store in Lakeview. The original Ashland Ave. store is almost two decades old. The new location is part of a large expansion plan the company unveiled last year to open 11 new stores across the US and Canada.  The applicant on file, Ashland Belmont, LLC, has a draft plan that includes construction of a 79,500 sq. ft. store and 305 parking spots. In order to break ground, the developers seek to amend the subject property, which is currently designated as Residential Planned Business Development #1052.
    Lakeview Whole Foods To Double, Become City's Second-Largest, February 12, 2015, DNAinfo

    Lakeview Whole Foods Adds Park, New Facade In Wake of Neighbors' Concerns, July 6, 2015 , DNAinfo

    A Look at the New Behemoth Lakeview Whole Foods Proposal, Thursday, April 23, 2015, Curbed Chicago


    Development Plans for the old Kitschy Ed Debevic’s Diner - 42nd Ward

    200-212 W. Ontario St.; 628-648 N. Wells St.; 201-209 W. Erie St. | Ordinance: O2015-4176  | Introduced: 5/20/2015
    Applicants Robert Stone and Jeffrey Himmel are part of a joint venture to build a residential complex at the site of the old Ed Debevic’s 50’s themed restaurant in River North. Filing their application under the name of Wells & Erie, LLC, the developers seek to rezone the site from a DX-7, Downtown District, to a Residential Business Planned Development to construct two buildings; a 22-story residential tower with 253 units and neighboring two-story commercial building to the west. The plans prepared by Hartshorne Plunkard Architects include 117 accessory off-street parking, and accessory and incidental uses--(it was reported that the small building will likely hold a daycare center for dogs). In order to increase the floor area permitted on site, developers plan to make a $1.5M cash contribution to the city’s Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund in lieu of providing on-site affordable housing, as well as a $1.2M cash contribution for public infrastructure improvements.  Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) held a community meeting in May, so that representatives of the JDL development team could present their plans to the River North Residents Association (slideshow).

    River North's Kitschy Ed Debevic's to Make Way for New Tower Friday, April 24, 2015, Curbed Chicago

    Ed Debevic's sass to go: Cheeky diner is looking for a new home April 24, 2015, Crain’s Chicago

    A Look at the Apartment Tower That Will Replace Ed Debevic's Wednesday, May 13, 2015, by Curbed Staff

    Acquisitions & Dispositions - Ald. Howard Brookins, Jr. (21) introduced an ordinance proposing the sale of city-owned property on 650 W. 83rd St. to Green ERA Educational NFP, so it can build a renewable energy anaerobic digester facility. The company will use the space and equipment to recycle food and park waste into composted soil and biogas. Ald. Brookins has requested the Plan Commission rezone the area from a M1-2, Manufacturing District, to an M3-2, Manufacturing District, and eventually into a planned development. The site will be roughly 440,000 sq. ft. [Ordinance: O2015-5391]

    Tax Increment Financing - Proposals to amend two TIF Districts are slated for approval. One item is a resolution amending the Cicero/Archer Redevelopment Project. The other resolution is an expansion plan to add an additional 4,676 taxable properties to the 119th/I-57 TIF. The expansion plan is based on a study from an independent consulting firm, SB Friedman Development Advisors, the city hired to see if adjacent areas around the original project area would qualify as “blighted”. The expansion plan includes the Morgan Park and West Pullman neighborhoods.

    Adjacent Neighbors - Two city-owned properties are for sale under the Adjacent Neighbors Land Acquisition Program. One property is on 6506 S. Dorchester Ave in Woodlawn. The three-unit, three floor building in the 20th Ward was built in 1888 and needs “minor repair”, according to the Cook County Assessor’s records. [Pin: 20-23-213-047-0000]. The other property, 8906 S. Lowe Ave, in the 21st Ward is a vacant lot in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood. [Pin: 25-04-118-024-0000].

    Negotiated Sales - There is a resolution recommending the negotiated sale of City-owned land on 3427 W. Madison St. in the 28th Ward’s East Garfield Park neighborhood. [Pin: 16-14-201-006-0000]
  • Fresh off an evening with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), and Ald. Sue Sadlowski Garza (10) gathered with more than a dozen representatives from community groups to back a comprehensive immigrant immigration plan. Standing in front of representatives from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the National Immigrant Justice Center, and the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, Ald. Rosa said the Working group was excited to collaborate with the City Council’s Latino Caucus and the Mayor’s office to implement a six point plan to make Chicago the most immigrant friendly city in the country.

    The plan builds on existing ordinances that address immigrant communities, as well as emulating programs implemented in other big cities. Fred Tsao, with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, introduced the platform, which is fleshed out on Ald. Rosa’s website:

    (1) Using New York City’s public defender program as a model, the working group wants Chicago to provide pro bono or low-cost representation to low-income immigrants in City immigration courts. New York spent $500,000 on the pilot program. The New York Times reported that money went to handling 190 deportation cases out of an estimated 1,650 in New York and New Jersey immigration courts. The program is administered by the non-profit Vera Institute of Justice and received a big funding bump–$4.9 million–from the New York City Council for the current fiscal year. The working group argues that the program would help pay for itself with savings on social services. “The City of Chicago should work with legal providers to assess the cost and benefits of providing legal representation for Chicago’s low income immigrants and children,” the platform reads.

    (2) Bring Cook County’s and Chicago’s immigration policies in line by creating “a clear separation between local law enforcement and immigration enforcement.” Chicago’s existing Welcoming City Ordinance has arbitrary criteria, the group says. Current city policy keeps agencies from asking about the immigration status of people seeking City services. It also prohibits Chicago police officers from asking crime victims, witnesses, and residents about legal status. Undocumented Chicagoans could only be detained if there is a warrant out for their arrest, if they have been convicted of a serious crime, or are a threat to public safety.

    “The County policy flatly bars the jail from holding anyone at ICE's request or sharing information with ICE regarding anyone in county custody.” Fred Tsao added. “The city ordinance does both as well but does not apply in certain circumstances when someone has an ICE warrant.”

    (3) Expand the city’s existing ordinance to ensure immigrants have quality interactions with emergency services and Chicago Public Schools. The City Council recently passed an ordinance sponsored by Ald. Ameya Pawar (47) that ensures language access for non-English speakers. The group said the change is a “good first step,” but doesn’t address the need for translation services with emergency providers.

    When the language access ordinance was being debated in Committee in April, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) clashed with Ald. Pawar, arguing the ordinance didn’t go far enough. He said since it didn’t require the police or fire department to provide resources for non-English speakers, it “diminish[ed] the whole purpose, which is to get people services they need immediately, rather than sending them through an Alderman’s office or 311.”

    Pawar conceded the ordinance wasn’t “100% there” and “coming up with a policy and a program reflecting the various duties in emergency services is going to require a significant amount of work,” but said CPD and CFD should eventually have to line up with other city agencies included in the ordinance.

    The working group went further, saying the language ordinance should require Police, Fire, and Chicago Public Schools to provide access for non-English speakers. A new ordinance should also consider the needs of “linguistically isolated” emerging immigrant communities, and provide a place for people to complain about non-compliance, the group added.

    Part of that language access ordinance also called for the creation of a task force to look into the creation of Chicago municipal IDs. Those IDs could be used to access local bank accounts, housing, and city services. The group supports (4) creation of municipal IDs in Chicago, as long as privacy of applicants is protected from immigration enforcement. New York, Oakland, San Francisco, Hartford, and New Haven are a few cities that have created their own municipal ID programs.

    Tsao called municipal IDs a “vehicle for civic pride,” and said fees for applicants or corporate sponsorships are possible candidates for funding the cards.

    The group also supports an effort to (5) get grant-makers, business leaders, and private donors together to create a low-interest loan program so children and parents can apply for deferred action. The city should also train 311 workers and other city employees on how to refer people to those services. “Research shows that cities benefit economically” from programs like these, the group says.

    Finally, the city should (6) improve access for immigrants who are survivors of crime or victims of civil and labor rights abuses. The group says 70% of undocumented immigrants report being less likely to get in touch with police if they were victims of a crime. Improving relationships between immigrants and police is crucial, the group says.

    When asked about the cost of implementing these policies, Rosa said ordinances are being “workshopped”, and he looks forward to collaborating with the Mayor’s office and the Latino Caucus to implement the changes.
  • 17th Ward Ald. David Moore released some suggestions of his own Monday, calling for revenue generating reforms and an “equitable sharing of the pain.” His recommendations include an increased transaction tax targeting luxury real estate, a $2.50 per stay hotel surcharge, and an increased fee on concessions at O’Hare, Midway, and Navy Pier.

    “Ultimately, our goal should be to work more responsibly with the funds we do have by creating efficiencies and more accountability in how money is spent,” Moore said in a press release, “We also have to raise revenue, but not solely on the backs of our constituents who also are trying to navigate these trying economic times.” He is a former accountant.
  • The Office of Inspector General (OIG) released its latest report detailing problems with the Department of Family Support and Services (DFSS) scoring system for agencies that help the city address homelessness. It found DFSS employees had “scored delegate agency applications inaccurately and inconsistently,” erring in monitoring some of the 57 agencies that help the roughly 6300 homeless people living in Chicago.

    You can read the full report here.

    DFSS spent roughly $60M on “delegate agencies” that help the homeless between 2013 and 2014, with most of that money coming from federal grants. Given the small sample size of the investigation, the OIG’s office couldn’t conclude whether every agency given DFSS funds after review was the best candidate.

    DFSS chooses agencies through an RFP process, and monitors chosen agencies through audits to check they’re in compliance with their contracts. According to the OIG’s report, finding, funding and monitoring delegate agencies that cover the whole city is a challenge, and “the Department told us that the number of applications it had to review and the time it had to review them led it to choose expediency over thoroughness.”

    The report found a number of errors in DFSS audits, including giving agencies undeserved points, miscounting total scores, and failing to follow up on “red flag” reports where auditors came up with different scores for facilities.

    In response to the OIG’s findings, DFSS put a new automated scoring system in place that “minimizes human error in proposal scoring,” and noted OIG’s audit span was a particularly busy time for the Department. DFSS also responded to OIG findings on how DFSS holds agencies accountable for report inaccuracies, saying it “will follow-up with the agencies that have been identified as having inconsistent data, via performance letters issued at least twice a year.” It’s also using new training to ensure negative findings don’t slip through the Department’s program monitoring audit tool.

    In a press release, Inspector General Joe Ferguson praised DFSS’ response. “Choosing the most qualified agencies and ensuring that those agencies comply with local and federal program requirements are critical to providing quality service to a population that is unlikely to advocate for itself. DFSS’ response to our audit findings reflects a clear resolve to the continuing improvement of both.”
  • A transition team appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel submitted about 50 pages worth of policy recommendations for his second term focusing on three issues: strengthening City Hall’s public engagement strategy, driving neighborhood economic growth, and expanding pre-K opportunities.

    The group was announced in April. At the time, the Mayor’s office floated other possible areas for the group to address, like strengthening neighborhood schools, establishing protections for working families, public transit investments, and improving police and community interactions.

    Sarah Pang, who Mayor Emanuel also tapped for the board of the Regional Transportation Authority, chairs the group. She spent nine years in Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration, and serves on the board of the Chicago Loop Alliance, the sole service provider for the State Street SSA #1.

    The committee also includes:

    • Frank Clark, President of the Business Leadership Council; Mayor’s recent appointee as President of the Chicago Board of Education

    • Gillian Darlow, CEO of the Polk Bros.; co-chairs the Mayor’s Lucas Cultural Arts Museum location task force

    • Sol Flores, ED of La Casa Norte; Mayor reappointed to the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals, served on the Low Income Housing Task Force, and the Mayor’s Municipal ID and Minimum Wage working groups

    • Deborah Graham, former 29th ward alderman; given $120,000 by the Mayor and his Chicago Forward PAC in the 2015 elections

    • Dorri McWhorter, Metropolitan YWCA CEO; Mayor appointed to the “Great Rivers Chicago” project earlier this year

    • David Munar, President and CEO of the Howard Brown Health Center

    • Jorge Ramirez, the President of the Chicago Federation of Labor; sits on the Chicago Infrastructure Trust Board and worked with the Mayor on the City’s Wellness Program for employees, the recent subject of an OIG advisory

    • Michael Sacks, Vice Chair of the Mayor’s World Business Chicago board; helped with the parking meter dispute between the City and Chicago Parking Meters

    • Juan Salgado, President and CEO of the Instituto del Progreso Latino; appointed to the Parks District Board, a City-County cooperation joint committee, and the Office of New Americans advisory committee


    The committee made 18 specific recommendations in total, summed up in a press release from the Mayor’s office. Each recommendation has a suggested timeline for implementation. Its recommendations for pre-K reforms, a major platform during the Mayor’s re-election, include streamlining administration, creating a unified enrollment process between the Department of Family Support and Services and Chicago Public Schools, and targeting high need communities.

    The committee also recommended increasing City Hall’s presence in neighborhoods, appointing more young members to committees and advisory boards, and creating a network of neighborhood ambassadors. Small business assistance, expansion of Transit-Oriented Developments, increased TIF transparency and streamlining, and re-imagining Planned Manufacturing Districts were all recommended in the committees economic growth recommendations. The recommendations on TOD expansion and freezing TIF districts downtown, have already been implemented.

    “I am proud to accept these recommendations that reflect the priorities and aspirations of people throughout Chicago,” the Mayor said in a press release.

    The Civic Consulting Alliance, a group that builds pro-bono teams of experts with help from the Commercial Club, helped develop the recommendations. City departments briefed committee members and submitted their own ideas for priorities in the Mayor’s second term.