letters June, July 2010 on Harper Avenue and Harper Court Redevelopment
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Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference's president Jay Ammerman submitted two letters on TIF and Harper Court subjects in June and July 2010.
That of June 14 was on the request for TIF funding for an engineering study of opening Harper Avenue to through traffic. This was sought both for itself and as a prerequisite to Harper Court Redevelopment. That of July 21 was in response to call for comments prior to the July 26 meeting for a TIF council vote on TIF funding request of $23.4 million. This letter was submitted to both the TIF Planning Subcommittee and to the Herald before the July 19 TIF subcommittee meeting. It also appears in the August 2010 Conference Reporter (Vol. 16, No. 2) as From the President's Desk... Harper court Redevelopment--Boon or Boondoggle.
HPKCC Letter of June 14, 2010 to the subcommittee
The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference is continuing to follow the Harper Court Development and E. Hyde Park Blvd. (Village Foods) projects with great interest.
The Conference supports a traffic engineering study by the Chicago Department of Transportation of Harper Avenue between E. Hyde Park Blvd. and 53rd Street and the impact of developing Harper Avenue as a through street.
Although we would not object to the study’s being funded in part or entirely by the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council, we do question why the owners and developers involved would not be asked to pay for the majority of the study costs. It appears to us that the traffic engineering study costs would be part of the customary development costs that the community would expect the owners and developers to bear.
We also urge the TIF Council and the TIF Planning and Development Subcommittee to recommend that additional transportation and related impact studies are undertaken promptly as the scope and configuration of these two projects, or of other nearby redevelopments, become clear.
Jay N. Ammerman
HPKCC President Jay Ammerman asks "Harper Court - boon or boondoggle? Herald, July 21, 2010, and for next Conference Reporter
After months of confidential negotiations among Ald. Toni Preckwinkle's (4th) office, the city of Chicago, the University of Chicago and the chosen developer, Vermilion, the Harper Court Redevelopment project appears to be on the fast-track.
From the Feb. 8 53rd street Tax Increment Finance (TIF) Advisory Council meeting (when Vermilion was announced as teh chosen developer) to the July 12 TIF Advisory Council meeting, limited information was disclosed to the community (due to the fact that the principals had apparently not concluded an actual deal). But on July 12, that dynamic changed.
TIF Advisory Council Chair Howard Males presided over the July 12 meeting. The first order of business was to approve an allocation of $87,000 for an engineering study to pen up Harper Avenue, between 51st and 53rd Streets. Then Vermilion representatives reported on a revised site plan for a phase one development, estimated to cost $114 million. The audience was advised that Vermilion planned to submit a TIF funding request for $23.4 million, which amounts to 20.5 percent of the phase one cost. Everyone was informed that this was well below the TIF funding requests for comparable development projects.
Several TIF Advisory Council members (and audience attendees) began to ask some probing questions:
We were assured that it would all work out just fine. Besides, Preckwinkle announced that it was now time to move ahead and move ahead very quickly:
It appears that the TIF Advisory Council is prepared to sign-off on all of these issues as a farewell present to Preckwinkle as she prepares for her new political opportunity. The alderman's decisions will have a long-term impact on 53rd Street and Hyde Park. As a resident who lives one block west of Harper, I am hoping that the aldermen is correct in her assurance that it will all work out just fine. Only time will tell us whether the alderman's Harper Court redevelopment will be a "boon or boondoggle" for the community.