Harper Court Area Redevelopment (53rd-Lake Park, Chicago)
(Harper Court Homepage-Harper Court #12)

This is HPKCC's home page for the the most pivotal physical change in Hyde Park since Urban Renewal. Archive pages discuss players, deep background, and evolving concepts and residents' views 2006-present.

This page is provided as a resource and record by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Preservation-Development-Zoning Committee (chair Jay Ammerman), and its website, www.hydepark.org. Writer Gary Ossewaarde- contact hpkcc@aol.com. Join the Conference, support our work.

Links Contents of this latest Harper Court page (#12). Recent and expectations. Hotel.
Harper Court archived and sub pages. Early 2010 into 2011 set and link to construction log.
Visioning workshop April 21 2012 report
For Hyatt Hotel see below. Its website is
http://www.hydeparkchicagohotel.com. For details and reservations- http://www.hyattplacechicagosouthuniversity.com.


FIND IT AT "HOME" or by typing in http://www.hydepark.org (no extension) from the outside.
(We want the general visitor to see it first- come back to Record's homepage via the Hyde Park Record button there.) Check there in the Development Committee's page for takes on Harper Court and other development and preservation in the area.

YOU ARE IN HYDE PARK RECORD, THE REST OF THE SITE, mostly about the neighborhood and its hot topics from HPKCC's perspective. ALL THE INTERNAL PAGES ARE ADDRESSED http://www.hydepark.org/(extension) EXCEPT FOR HYDE PARK RECORD'S HOMEPAGE with its important links, WHICH YOU WILL HAVE TO ACCESS BY CLICKING HERE OR TYPING http://www.hydeparkrecord.org.

Return links: Hot Topics and Community Issues home. Development Hot Projects. Development webhub homepage. HPKCC programs home.
Related: Harper Theater, 53rd Street development, TIF News and home, Hyde Park Profiles.

Harper Court main pages- original Harper Court's History. Then archived records on the selling then redevelopment (in chron. order): #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7. #8. #9. #10. #11. Reach reports and positions from Links (at bottom of this page). See a recent rendering of overview and 53rd-Lake Park building views- see also in Herald website.
Latest (including financing). Next meeting.

NEW OFFICIAL PROJECT (Harper Court Partners) WEBSITE http://www.harpercourtchicago.com. info@harpercourtchicago.com.
Contact to Harper Court/Vermilion, especially for an urgent problem or general feedback:
Christopher S. Dillion LEED AP Managing Director, Vermilion Development, 401 N. Franklin Street, Suite 4 South, Chicago, Illinois 60654
p: 312 239 3535 f: 312 488 1919. info@harpercourtchicago.com or chris@vermiliondevelopment.com.

Website of the 53rd St. Vision process: http://secc-chicago.org/secc_chicago/news/news_moreinfo.cfm

To (in this page) Archive (#1-7 and special reports) index and links, outside links
To #8 Vermilion presentation February 8 2010.

To #9 July 12 2010 presentation and TIF funding request. Full is in Hyde Park Herald in pdf, Presentation linked from their homepage. (Note: some assumptions changed and were refigured in the late 2011 closing on financing.)
To #10 HPKCC President's letters of June-July 2010: Harper Avenue, Harper Ct Redevel.-requests for TIF funding.
To #11 July 26 Presentation and TIF Funding Vote.
TO #13 CONSTRUCTION LOG (in this site). (Construction Schedule- in this page)
THE DEVELOPER'S PDF PRESENTATION IS IN FOUND IN http://www.hpherald.com and paraphrase in our Vermilion July 12 page (= #9).

Contact Vermilion/Harper Ct. Partners:
website http://www.vermiliondevelopment.com. Email dave@vermiliondevelopment.com.
The project's site is http://www.harpercourtchicago.com. Hotel: hydeparkchicagohotel.com.
The Hyde Park Herald in cooperation with Vermilion and Smart Hotels (Legat) has posted preliminary views from summer 2010 (overall plan) and winter 2011, the hotel -- both preliminary: Go to http://www.hpherald.com, click "presentation" icon.


Meetings, vetting's, and collateral information.

Next TIF meeting will be tba.

May 30, Harper Ave. 5200 block was given the Honorary name Oscar Brown, Jr. in a dedication celebration.

May 13 2013 TIF meeting: Christopher Dillion of Vermillion/Harper Court partners and Ed Small of Smart Hotels gave updates with renderings and blueprints. Space is 95% leased and has 223 underground parking spaces for Harper Court office building and the hotel. Above ground will serve the retail. LAZ Parking will manage parking. Plan is to keep the rates lower than on the street for now then adjusted esp. to make sure the parking isn't being taken by Metra commuters.
Turnover to tenants for buildout started about June 10 of that year with spaces along 53rd opening first. Dedication will be in September. 44% of ground-floor space is leased to Chicago businesses and all in Harper Court street. The configuration as known was given (there are still two spaces not ready for announcement). There was a question about a possible large sign on the office building advertising the University of Chicago. The hotel will open in September, being fitted now with porcelain block tiles.


THE THEN-DEVELOPER'S PDF PRESENTATION IS FOUND IN http://www.hpherald.com and paraphrased in our Vermilion July 12 page.
July 19 2010 saw a more specific presentation on the plan and the financials, with lots of time for serious questions. More, of course, will remain (and more meetings held), but the projections seemed to this observer more clear and feasible. Specifics be entered here or in the Vermilion July12 page later.
See below.
The full TIF council will vote on the $23 million for the Harper Court project and the provisional plan at the July 26 special meeting.

(HPKCC President Jay Ammerman's 2010 letter appeared in the Hyde Park Herald July 15 Herald and in the August Conference Reporter. It appears in the Herald archives with letter from the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and Herald editorial.)

March 7, 2011 . The Planning and Development Committee of the 53rd TIF Advisory Council met in open session on the PROPOSED HOTEL FOR HARPER COURT. See Reports. March 14 TIF reports are below, full in TIF Adv. Co. meetings.
University of Chicago and Vermilion Development Partners have selected the hotel developer for the Harper Court development project. That developer will introduce themselves and present preliminary plans for hotel. The TIF subcommittee will hold an open discussion of proposed ideas at this meeting. The results our discussion will be presented to the full Advisory Council at its regular meeting (March 14). This is your opportunity to provide substantive community input. Please come. Chuck Thurow. Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell.


" NOTICE is hereby given, pursuant to Section 5/11-74,4-5(d)(9) of the Illinois Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act, as amended (65 ILCS 5/11-74.4-1 et seq.) (the "Act"), that discs of the 2009 TIF Annual Reports of the City of Chicago will be available Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. beginning Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at City Hall, 121 North LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois in the Department of Community Development ("DCD"), Room 1006. Pdfs for individual districts will also be available. Annual reports are online at cityofchicago.org beginning Thursday July 1, 2001. "

You can see the TIF's 2010 budget online in the city website- community planning dept. http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dcd/tif/10reports/T_105_53rdAR10.pdf.

[Note- information and tables are being placed in the TIF Annual Reports page.]



Latest expectations/interpretations: July 12 2010 presentation and funding request
Hotel incl. March 1 and June 2012 updates. See March 1 2011 TIF subcommittee vetting
Who owns it? What about the split-off of Village Hyde Park from the TIF?

The property has been bounced around, perhaps to maximize each party getting its share (including of TIF money) as fast as possible.
(A letter in the Aug. 6 Herald by Derek Douglas, UC VP Civ. Eng. implies the the following changes were envisioned for some time (but one doubts since 2008) but this does not seem to this writer to have been clearly told to the community.) Shortly after the opening of Harper Court, the University bought the property and paid off the other partners for $98, as allowed in the contract. In Feb. 2014 the University listed Harper Court with a realty search firm, planning for a 20-year agreement "master lease" keeping control over all leasing and to lease-back the part it uses for offices. And the University is not giving up the right to develop the housing ("phase II"), telling inquirers the UC wants to retain control and watch the housing market for maybe a couple years or so. Note also the this writer understands that the housing was included in the accounting for the TIF and is completely maxed out, so that even Vue 53 taxes may not allow any remainder in the TIF to help underwrite a housing component.
Outcome: In summer the University announced (and July 25 the city approved) that it had sold Harper Court to publicly-held Clal Insurance (Israel based) for 112M. The University gets a long-term master lease with control including leasing of all 150,000 office sf and the 75,000 retail sf-- and right to build the "Phase II" residential tower and low rises. The Developer gets the TIF contribution (whether upfront or as it comes in and and is doled out was not known to this source) and the UC becomes the "major contributor" to the TIF, according to Sun-Times interview with UC spokesperson Calmetta Coleman. Note that since the UC spent $30 million on the project (and another $21.5 million in loan guarantee on the Hyatt hotel build, in addition to infrastructure and other nearby investment in buying and rehabing/preparing structures--these, it says, in urn increaes the value of Harper Court) ) in addition to the $98M to buy out the development partnership, it did not receive its investment value back-- but will receive retail rents and has another crack should the residential go forward. Not in this deal is the separated Hyatt Place Hyde Park hotel.

November 8, 2013. Harper Court opening party 5:30-8 or so with Estelle and DJ Dave Henry. (Ribbon-cutting was held in the morning.)
April saw ribbon-cutting for Native Foods, May for Porkchop. Late May Harper Court (the roadway) became one way north and west.

Signed tenants:

Chipotle restaurant (open)
Ja'Grill (Jamaican, seeking liquor license, to open soon)
LA Fitness (open)
Native Foods (native and Porkchop have yet to pass city inspections and are seeking liquor licenses- expect to open in mid March)
Park Tavern (the one in Rosemont, not Park 52. http://parktavernrosemont.com)-This pulled out of Harper Court and the space may well be subdivided for soft retail such as clothing unless another upscale restaurant is quickly found)
Red Balloon (upscale children's clothing) to open soon
Red Mango frozen yogurt chain to ope soon
Sir and Madame to move from 53rd St. to Harper Court
Starbucks (open)
ULTA beauty shop and supplies (open)
Porkchop (so. and barbecue themed) open
Villa Sneakers
(on Lake Park, open)

And the parking is open and so far not heavily used.

Ja' Grill (2500 sf) will be Jamaican (think Calypso?); chef Herbert "Eroll" Gallimore is from Jamaica. To pre-sample go to 1008 W. Armitage.
The Starbucks anchors the Lake Park-53rd corner (1800 sf), with the current one at Harper presumably gone.
Porkchop, a barbeque and bourbon restaurant (1st is at 941 W. Randolph). Whiskey, bourbon and craft beer; southern-inspired breakfast, lunch, dinner daily.

They say 44% of ground floor leases are Chicago-based "independently operated businesses, restaurants, entertainment. Matched with nationals that are id as community-desirable. Few, if any though are Hyde-Park connected.

Not Park 52..... Closed January 9 2013- Park 52, which was an early trophy development by the University at Harper Court. This highly prized restaurant says it succumbed to the recession and other problems- certainly including its isolation by construction and need to rely on valet parking, at which many people going to expensive restaurants balk. Believed-to-be-reliable information also indicates the UC/Harper Court lessors could or would not offer space at anything like what such a restaurant can pay, which could bode further problems with major new developments in this area.

The Development won LEED Gold Certification, in part because of the bike center across the street. Other benchmarks are waste reduction, lower operating costs, waters and energy conservation, reused greenhouse gas emissions, green roofs, being in a dense area and with adjacent public transportation and a commercial district.

HARPER AVENUE RECONSTRUCTION Done. Beginning the week of April 1, 2013, construction crews started work on a new CDOT Street Improvement Project on Harper Avenue, from 52nd Street to 53rd Street. Harper Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic for a period of approximately 45 calendar days. Pedestrian access will be provided to the surrounding businesses at all times. Property owners are not assessed for these improvements. This project is funded entirely by the City. (From Ald. Burns Newsletter)

Traffic Impacts

* Temporary " No Parking" signs will let you know when to move your vehicle.

* Harper Avenue is expected to be closed for approximately 45 days.

Overall Project Highlights

* Full reconstruction of the roadway pavement consisting of six-inch stone sub-base, nine-inch concrete base course and three inch asphalt overlay.

*The installation of new curb and gutter and ADA accessibility ramps.

*The installation of new storm water catch basins to improve drainage.

*The removal and replacement of existing driveway aprons and alley returns.

*The installation of new residential street lighting.

*All parkways are regraded and sodded. Trees are planted at locations recommended by the City's Department of Streets and Sanitation/Bureau of Forestry.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact the Resident Engineer, Taha Abdullah, at (773) 410-6652.

The evolution and twists and turns were complicated and described in various places below and in cached pages. Until November 2013, it (excluding the hotel, which is under separate ownership) was owned by a partnership led by Vermilion and including the University of Chicago and stakeholders including the combine in which Magic Johnson is invested (JFJ Development and Canyon Joson Urban Funds) . That month, the University of Chicago exercised its option to buy Harper Court for c. $98 million. This gave the investors as a whole the return for which they had invested and enabled the University to (unambiguously?) control leasing. The University made clear it would be paying the requisite property taxes including to the TIF and intended to find and sell to a developer and lease back what it uses. In March? 2014, the University listed Harper Court wtih commercial realtor CBRE Group for RFPs.
Harper Court consists of 224,000 sf which is over 90 percent leased. The University is looking for a long-time owner whose practices and goals are in line with its own. As part of the sale, the University will sign a 20-year master lease for the office and retail portion and be a partnerwith leasing agents in leasing remaining space. The University will continue to pay property taxes even after the sale.

The city was to come to the TIF meeting September 10 2012 with firm numbers on impact of a spit off of the City Hyde Park development tax PINS into its own 23-year TIF, how much compensation for lost CHP 2001-present City Hyde Park increment will be needed from CHP owner Silliman/Antheus as compensation to the remaining 53rd TIF, and how the TIFs look financially (including how much might be left over in the 51st. THAT MEETING WAS CANCELLED. MEANWHILE THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION GAVE ITS ADMINISTRATATIVE APPROVAL (ALL NEC.) TO THE SPLIT OFF OF VILLAGE WHICH MET 6 OF 13 CRITERIA FOR A TIF-- which will expire at the same time as the 53rd).

There has been some dismay over the TIF split (said in part to be because the CHP developer says there is a gap, bankers require a solid, government funding component, and Harper Court has dibs on whatever leftover increment there may be should it be needed).
At the same time, there have been objections and rallies asserting the the Hotel component should not be built because school funding is in a terrible crisis and they don't like public money going to developers--it appears this objection is based in part on their belief this goes to the Pritzker family, which both having hotel labor disputes and is heavily involved in Chicago education issues and governance, which are highly politicized and in the midst of union contract negotiations.
(They also claim Hyatt and the Pritzkers do not pay a fair share of taxes-- reality unknown to this writer. This hotel project has set forth a number of things it will do for its workers. It says it will not commit to being unionized before it hires-- and such agreement is something that is seldom done these days.)

This writer notes that the developer of the Hotel is not Hyatt but Smart LLC and it will be operated by Olympia companies, which are separate franchises from Hyatt Hotels Corporation, which has no stake in either Smart of Olympia and will not be getting any money from the TIF expenditure, nor will members of the Pritzker family. The Hyatt Corporation of course receives an additional hotel-- as does Hyde Park and anyone using the hotel, plus Hyatt receives leasing money from the Smart and Olympia corporations: including royalties based on revenues equaling from 3% to 5%-- if the gross revenues were 5 1/2 million that would be a little shy of $300,000. Anyone who thinks all that goes to the Pritzker family or any shareholder knows nothing about profit returns in business. If you spend $200 to stay for a night (or buy something in a store) anywhere from 1 to 5% goes to profit to the corporation, and not all of that goes to dividends.

The $5 million from TIF is only a small part of the funding for the hotel construction and backs the construction loans-- it is banks and other backers that have first call on the TIF money and would be stuck if it is insufficient.

Are schools and the other taxing districts (city, parks, county.....) losing out? They continue to get the same tax receipts from the site and the whole TIF they were getting in 2001-- whether there is any development during that time or not. During the life of the TIF they do not get each year's increment over the 23 years-- that is set aside for approved TIF expenditures and expenses, or may be declared surplus and taken, as some from the overall city TIF pool has been, for various taxing bodies including schools (but to the knowledge for this writer not from the 53rd TIF because its monies were committed before the surplus declared). The money coming into the 53rd and most other TIFs has been slowing dramatically in recent years (see Hyde Park Herald articles in summer of (f2012) but there is still sizeable increment. Once the Harper Court, Harper Theater, former Borders and other expected developments are done and online, the property value in the TIF will be dramatically larger, especially for Harper Court) and assessments thereon will be dramatically, maybe Harper Court and City Hyde Park for its proposed TIF five times higher? than present and certainly 2001 assessment even with changes countywide in weighting of different kinds of property. So when the 53rd TIF expires, the schools and taxing bodies will start getting a much higher amount of taxes (and if there were no development a somewhat higher amount of taxes) plus any monies left unused/uncommitted in the TIF's fund. So, the development results in a lot more for the schools than any that goes to Hyatt or Pritzkers.

In recent years, the TIF expended on the two schools (not seven!) that are in the TIF- Kenwood and Canter. Many wish it had been more, and that more could have been spent on other improvements including in parks in the TIF, and that Cleanslate had been kept going. And, with the commitment to Harper Court no more will be. It could be pointed out that it would have been irresponsible for the TIF to not do what TIFs do best and this one was at least partially meant to do--improve the capacity and value of the commercial district and simultaneously increasing the tax base for schools etc. for from when it expires. But the new 51st TIF (new 23 years) may provide a second chance (via portability) to provide those extra benefits including to the two schools, although the schools (ie CPS including other 5 schools in HPK) and other taxing bodies will have to forego the increased increment until 23 years have passed. If the argument is that providing public money for development should not also result in private gains, that's is one of the main way the whole country has been built, even though one can argue that such piling on of debt is unsustainable if value leveraged and created does not maintain a consistent ratio or the development cannot be supported by the shoppers, renters etc.

At the July 9 2012 TIF meeting the council approved splitting off the City Hyde Park (51st Lake Park) pins into a separate TIF (still monitored by the council)- Antheus Capital would give a reimbursement for anticipated lost increment. It was not expected this would have an impact on the Harper Court development although many financial and other questions remained in discussion.
See details in the City Hyde Park page.
Ben Joravsky's op-ed Chicago Reader article on the larger TIF subject- http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/mayor-emanuel-taps-shrinking-tif-funds/Content?oid=6984977.
It has references to Harper Court and City Hyde Park.
(53rd and proposed 51st TIFs, Harper Court and Hyatt Hyde Park (Smart/Olympia Hotels) and City Hyde Park subsidy are very hot with a segment of the community and some outside groups. Occupy spin off demonstrations are planned for Harper and Hyatt and various labor and money-to-schools only groups are making the rounds with informationals about all three. Hyde Park Herald editorial asked for examination of ability of the tifs to come up with the public benefits on which the community had originally be sold on tifs, and a letter questioned developers' commitment and care for this neighborhood.) The Herald editorial in the August 1 2012 issue said there is now no doubt that the purpose of the 53rd/51st TIFs is now to bring only development. None is left even for CARA streetcleaning and workforce development, nothing for schools, and no infrastructure and parking not directly related to developments. Thus, promises are not fulfilled. The editorial called for the alderman and council to take a pause to evaluate what exactly the TIF is for.

Response of Ald. Will Burns to criticisms of the 53rd TIF in a August 1, 2012 editorial

(Notes: Coalition for Equitable Community Development representatives say to this writer (GMO) that their statement of appreciation at the July TIF meeting to Antheus/Silliman for proposing the first affordable housing in Hyde Park in many years was not necessarily a total endorsement of all aspects of the local tifs or the proposal described herein.

This writer also notes that while parking at Harper Court will be open to all, it is not known at what price relative to to former lot, nearby pay lots, or street parking.)

Response To The Hyde Park Herald's TIF Article 8.1.12

To the Editor: (of the Herald? pre-sent as public statement and passed along by others)

Members of the Hyde Park community and its representatives on the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council have an exemplary record of community-based planning, open review of development proposals and, most of all, competent oversight of the TIF.

The August 1, 2012 editorial “It’s Time to revisit the 53rd Street TIF” denies that history.

The editorial incorrectly asserts, “No other community improvement of note has taken place.” A quick search of the Herald archives shows the 53rd Street TIF has accomplished much more than real estate development. Small businesses were provided funding for store improvements (Hyde Park Herald 8/6/08), funds were appropriated to Cantor Middle School for capital improvement projects (Hyde Park Herald 11/18/09), and to Kenwood Academy for new bleachers (Hyde Park Herald 5/12/10). The TIF funded CleanSlate for several years (Hyde Park Herald 5/12/10, 3/4/08, and 8/6/08).

The editorial references 2011 revenue estimates of the 53rd Street TIF and implies that this is new information. The issue was publicly discussed at the November 2011 TIF Advisory Council meeting and reported in the Hyde Park Herald in the story, “TIF District out of cash?”(11/16/11). To summarize last summer’s TIF Advisory Council meeting; the original financial projections for the 53rd Street TIF were adjusted downward due to policy changes made in the assessment of property by the Cook County Assessor. More recently, the City of Chicago has become increasingly conservative regarding TIF projections due to stagnant property values. “Special Tax Revenue Declines, Denting City Funds”, Chicago Tribune 7/18/12.

There are numerous community improvements within the current real estate developments. Harper Court Parking Garage will be available to the general public. Hyatt Place Hotel full-time employees will be paid at least the City of Chicago’s Living Wage (currently $11.18 an hour), benefits including retirement and savings plans, vacation, and sick days, and worker’s rights provisions, all of which are included in the project’s redevelopment agreement (RDA) with the city.

The City Hyde Park project will create 182 residential units along with 110,000 square feet of new retail space, including a Whole Foods supermarket. Thirty-eight residential units will be reserved as affordable housing, representing the first new affordable units in Hyde Park in decades, which is why the Committee for Equitable Community Development (CECD) endorsed the project and the new TIF district.

The editorial also incorrectly characterizes the Council’s recent recommendation for approval of the creation of a new TIF district specifically for City Hyde Park. The Council will hold a meeting in September to recommend a specific allocation from the new TIF to the City Hyde Park project. It is likely that the TIF allocation requested by the developers will be less than the amount of the money projected for the lifetime of the TIF. I look forward to engaging the community and the TIF Council to determine the allocation of the remaining increment.

Finally, there are other tools to fund community improvements; Special Service Areas (SSAs) provide a sustainable revenue stream to fund street cleaning, snow removal, and beautification services. An SSA for 47th Street currently exists. I look forward to engaging in a dialogue with business owners and residents on the merits of creating an SSA for the 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue retail corridors.

There is no question that TIF projects have been controversial throughout the city and the nation. However, the Fourth Ward has consistently managed its TIFs well, promoting a public and transparent process that exemplifies oversight and inclusive community-based planning.


William D. Burns
Alderman, 4th Ward
City of Chicago

April 25, 2012: Chipotle Mexican Grill has signed for the retail building in Harper Court, joining LA Fitness. Question: is that a destination draw that will increase retail.

Controversy over a TIF subsidy (Jan-March 2012) for City Hyde Park has revived wondering about whether and how much "public benefit" (including the parking) is in the Harper Court project.
An Occupy/CTU union press conference and picket is planned for August 8 6-8 pm.

In March 2012 the City amended the 53rd TIF Eligible Costs Budget (see TIF News page)- The key items are Rehabilitation from 3 M to $3,003,634 and assembly-preparation from $500K to $665,605K. Total budget is increased from $20m to $26,624,220. The latter is above what was committed to Harper Court over the remaining life of the TIF. Rumored to be a possibility is extending the life of the TIF should amounts be insufficient.

WHAT IS THE HARPER COURT BUDGET? Redevelopment Agreement:

Debt- $65 M.
Developer's stake- $18,890,777
Rebate on city land- $10,618,561
Land- $4 M
TIF- $20,045,00
(sundries prob permits and admin.)- c. $30,00o+
TOTAL- $111,888,037. To reimburse developer equity- about $4,045,000.

Ald. Burns was able to make good on his commitment to seek a 15-minute parking/loading zone for about 3 cars on the northeast corner of 53rd St. and Harper Ave.

LOCAL BUSINESSES, from Frontline Books and the cosmetics store tucked away north of the construction to Bonne Sante on 53rd CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE WITH LACK OF FOOT TRAFFIC AND PARKING. Private negotiations continue about parking and other construction issues affecting businesses and the public. THESE PROBLEMS CONTINUED IN APRIL 2012 ACCORDING TO ARTICLE IN THE APRIL 11 ISSUE, ASSERTING NO PROGRESS ON THESE MATTERS.
A strong letter by S. Beth Thomas appeared in the Feb. 1 Herald pointing to the numerous businesses that have suffered drastic losses during the construction and get no help from the University-- which the writer suggests is deliberately driving them out.
A new group called Break New Ground held a mock groundbreaking January 27 to support broader voices in what goes into Harper Court, effects, and workers in the future enterprises.
(A troup of costumed parodists organized by Southside Solidarity Network mocked UC bureaucrats and hotel executives. It was billed as not anti-development but a call for accountability and inclusion rather than just narrowly thought out corporate deals. Especially not wanted were alleged unfair labor practices by the Hotel chains- asking instead for a pre-agreement.
And neighbors continue to complain about dust and noise.


So, were off and running. A very nice ground breaking on site and in Park 52 November 16 2011. Canyon-Johnson (which has a vast investment in Chicago) says it is ready to invest another 100 million in the area in partnership with University of Chicago.

At the January 9 TIF meeting, presentation and discussion was had on the Hyatt Hotel. A large group of students asked about such matters as whether the hotel would be unionized. The reply was said to be cautious, along the line that they would not oppose unionization should those hired desire it-- which is different from prenegotiating "hiring union." More information will be provided here as available.

There seemed some confusion (and an uproar at the TIF meeting) in September 2011 when it was learned changes in tax assessment between commercial (lowered) and homeowner (raised) could reduce how much money would come into the TIF over time, affecting not this project but whether there would be sufficient left annually to cover other needs. The principals at the Sept. 12 TIF meeting did not seem to think what the TIF will have to pay for the project would be affected, but what goes to the Developer to repay the loans may. A meeting of the Planning and Development Committee was set for Oct. 17 but cancelled and later (when the October 21 financial closing was announced on October 31) set as part of the Nov. 14 TIF meeting.
YES, THEY didn't really CLOSE ON FINANCING IN SEPT. 2011 but OFFICIALLY IN LATE OCTOBER. AND THE KEY WAS UNIVERSITY AGREEMENT TO GUARANTEE SOME OF THE DEBT AND FILL-IN AND FUNDING SHORTFALLS. How and when property changes hands remains unclear to this site, but that the firm with which Magic Johnson is connected- California-based Canyon-Johnson will end up with controlling interest (85%) of the completed project is new, at least to most community parties and the general public. (All but about 4% will be controlled by out-of-town firms, and the University apparently will not retain any stake except lease-rights and possibly ownership? to the office building. The city swaps the value of the land (less $1) and parking rights for taxes (reduced or rearranged by a county-wide change in assessment ratios from commercial to residential property). See details following (esp. in Story 2
where you will also find statements by Magic Johnson and Dave Cocagne and the Redevelopment Agreement with the city.)

Demolition and electrical installation remains ongoing; the city lot is closed and perimeter walking is via covered scaffolding- see Construction Schedule below and Construction log page.
Sidebar: City Council passed on November 2 at behest of Ald. Burns an ordinance enabling the infrastructure changes for Harper Court.
These include alleyways, sidewalks, and the return of Harper Ave. to through traffic 51st to 53rd.

Story 1: breaking general release and story (the nitty- see next)

Chicago Real Estate Daily, October 31, 2011
'Magic' Johnson-led fund invests in Hyde Park project
By: Alby Gallun October 31, 2011

(Crain's) — An investment fund led by former NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson has agreed to invest in Harper Court, a $100-million real estate development in Hyde Park anchored by a Hyatt Place hotel.
Lo[s] Angeles-based Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds has made an equity investment in the project's initial phase, while New York-based Citibank has provided a $65-million construction loan, says David Cocagne, president and CEO of Vermilion Development, the project's developer.

Site preparation is under way, and Vermilion plans an official groundbreaking in November, he says. Mr. Cocagne expects to complete the first phase of the development at Lake Park Boulevard and 53rd Street in spring 2013.
The University of Chicago has agreed to lease all of Harper Court's office space, about 150,000 square feet, while health club LA Fitness has leased 31,000 square feet of the project's 75,000 square feet of retail space, Mr. Cocagne says. A joint venture including Beachwood, Ohio-based Smart Hotels LLC has bought the rights to build the 130-room hotel.

Obtaining a construction loan remains a challenge in the current market, where risk-averse lenders remain wary of big, complicated mixed-use developments like Harper Court. “It's a difficult environment,” Mr. Cocagne says. “What was key to our success was having the level of leasing in place and also the quality of the tenants.”

Another factor working in Vermilion's favor was the support of the city, which is providing about $20 million in tax-increment financing for the development.

Canyon-Johnson is providing a majority of the $16 million in equity for Harper Court's first phase, Mr. Cocagne says, declining to provide a precise figure. He says Chicago-based PrivateBank & Trust [and another and MBFinancial, who bought the note] also will fund a portion of the construction loan. Canyon-Johnson, a joint venture between Canyon Capital Realty Advisors and Mr. Johnson, invests in urban real estate developments, with recent Chicago investments including the Roosevelt Collection project in the South Loop. Chicago-based MJ Partners Capital Services raised the equity for Vermilion.

"The Hyde Park neighborhood drew our interest because of its high barriers to entry and limited availability of retail space,” Canyon Managing Director Rich Holly says in a statement.

Vermilion continues to court retailers for the remaining commercial space at Harper Court, specifically targeting restaurant, entertainment and apparel tenants, Mr. Cocagne says.

“We certainly want this to be a destination not only for Hyde Park, but also the surrounding community,” he says. Vermilion would have to obtain more financing to pay for Harper Court's second phase, which includes 425 residential units.

Read more: http://www.chicagorealestatedaily.com/article/20111031/CRED03/111039990/magic-johnson-led-fund-invests-in-hyde-park-project#ixzz1cO4QozuD.

Story 2. [If there is not enough to cover the TIF's contribution, it's speculated in the Herald that MBFinancial, which bought the kick-start loan, will be left holding the bag. See after this stories 3 and 4 (Herald and Maroon Nov. 15 and 16) for more details based on the Nov. 14 TIF meeting.

Key Harper Ct. funding piece secured (this story has the real nitty and who the players are). Hyde Park Herald, November 2, 201. By Sam Cholke

The developers of Harper Court announced Oct. 31 that they have secured financing and the redevelopment of the former shopping center will begin in earnest. "We have begun mobilizing our construction forces," said Dave Cocagne, president and CEO of development partner Vermilion.

Citibank will finance $65 million of Harper Court Partners' development of the former shopping center and an adjoining parking lot at East 53rd Street and South Lake Park Avenue. Cost estimates for the project have ranged from $111 million to $114 million.

The University of Chicago purchased the shopping center in 2008 for $6.2 million; and in early 2010, selected Vermilion Development and JFJ Development to redevelop the site.

Basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson's investment fund also announced it would partner with the developers on the project. The California-based Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund will invest in the 3.3-acre development, which will include an office tower, hotel, parking garage and retail spaces.

"We believe in Chicago and are thrilled about his opportunity to contribute to the ongoing revitalization of this neighborhood," Johnson said in a prepared statement. Johnson is a partner at the fund. "The completion of Harper Court will bring new stores, restaurants and office space to an underserved area of the city, and create hundreds of construction and permanent jobs in the process."

Cocagne said conversations began with Canyon-Johnson almost a year ago and were finalized earlier this year. The construction loan, with Citi Community Capital, which specializes in community reinvestment projects, was finalized on Oct. 21, according to Cocagne.

Involvement by Johnson's investment fund was suspected for several months. The private real estate fund began filing documents citing its financial interest in the project in April. According to the financial disclosure documents, Canyon-Johnson expects to hold an 85 percent stake in the completed development. Canyon-Johnson made its first investment in Chicago in 2003 when it acquired and redeveloped State Place, a mixed-use project with retail shops and condominium units in the South Loop. The property was sold to BlackRock, a multinational investment management corporation, in 2006. In June, Canyon-Johnson also acquired the Roosevelt Collection, a transit-oriented mixed-use project also in the South Loop.

Though Cocagne declined to comment on specifics of his company's partnership with Canyon-Johnson, documents filed with the city state that Vermilion expects to control 11 percent of the completed project. Vermilion is a Danville, Ill., developer owned by the Mervis family, which also operates scrap-metal processing plants in the Midwest and Texas. The documents state Chicago-based JFJ would hold less than a 4-percent stake in the project.

A redevelopment agreement with the city states that Canyon-Johnson, Vermilion and JFJ will fund $14.8 million of the $111 million project. The Citibank construction loan will cover an additional $64 million. The city has agreed to sell the parking lot at East 53rd Street and South Lake Park Avenue, valued at $3.4 million, to the developers for $1.

Local taxpayers will contribute up to $23.4 million towards the development from the 53dr Street Tax Increment District.
The TIF district froze the amount of property tax revenue going to municipal agencies and city coffers for 24 [sic] years. When property values rose, increasing tax revenues, the extra funds went into the TIF account to be used to fund projects within the district's borders. The TIF would fund the Harper Court redevelopment by parceling out some of its yearly tax revenue to the developers. The developers' project would also be taxed, but that money would also cycle through the TIF fund and back tot he developers. That process would repeat until 2025, when the loans are expected to be paid off.

Cocagne declined to comment on the loan terms agreed to with Citibank.

In September, Cocagne reported to the TIF's advisory body that a change in how property taxes are assessed and collected could leave less in the TIF fund than originally projected. The shortfall would not affect the Harper Court development, but could jeopardize other TIF-funded projects and services, such as street cleaning service CleanSlate.

The TIF advisory council will hold a public meeting on these financial concerns at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave.

Nov. 16 Herald asks, TIF District out of cash? It depends. [based on Nov. 14 TIF Advisory Council meeting] By Sam Cholke

The 53rd street Tax Increment Financing District could lose its ability to fund new projects in hyde Park because of a tax break for commercial properties, according to developers of the Harper Court project, who are concerned about their own funding stream from the district.

Earlier this year, the tax rate on commercial properties was cut and the burden shifted to residential property owners. The local TIF district captures revenue from commercial property taxes and could experience a shortfall because of the tax change. The redevelopment of Harper Court into retail and a office tower could be damaged because it relies on a stream funding from the TIF to finance construction.

"In the best case scenario, there really is no change," Dave Cocagne, president and CEO of Vermilion Development, told the TIF's advisory council at a Nov. 14 meeting. In the worst case scenario, the $23.4 million promised by the TIF to support the development would be short by up to $1 million and the district would have no surplus revenue to spend on other projects [or the city's recently increased administrative charge]. "So frankly, all of this depends on how the project is assessed," he said.

Cocagne's hope is that county tax assessors overvalue the project and run up the property tax bill. That increased property tax revenue would go into the TIF district and help fund the promised $23.4 million bill for Harper Court

The property is a "unique asset," according to Michael Laube, an accountant hired to assist on the project's financing. He said it was difficult to determine how the completed development would be valued because the assessor changed the tax equation and there are few comparable projects in Hyde Park to judge against.

If the project does come up short it wouldn't be the taxpayers -- or the developers -- on the hook: $12 million of the promised payments from the TIF were sold as a note to MBFinancial in exchange for a lump sum up front to pay for construction. MBFinancial built a reserve into the deal, but once that is depleted, it could be left holding the bag.
[But separate is there possibility that there will be a zero balance in the TIF for anything else or even that there will be administrative deficit owed to the city?]

Chicago Maroon, November 15, 2011. Harper Court project may loose $1.25 million to tax ordinance [this story has some additional info on the Nov. 14 TIF meeting and SOME COMMUNITY OBJECTIONS AND CONCERNS ABOUT THE PROJECT, particularly parking by construction workers.] By Celia Bever

Developers of the Harper Court retail center met with the Hyde Park 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Advisory Council to address fears about the project's financing in the face of recent tax reforms, as well as to assuage community members' concerns about the development's community impact.

David Cocagne, president and CEO of Vermilion Development and Christopher Dillion, the company's managing director, reported that the project's financing is secure, though they admitted that the budget surpluses they expected initially now seem unlikely. "The original projections were overly optimistic," Cocagne said. The project was expected to have a $20,000 annual surplus. However, with the 2009 passage of Cook County's 10/25 Ordinance, tax rates on the commercial property have dropped, which may cost the project $1.25 million in TIF funding. The ordinance may hit the incoming surplus for upcoming years as well, though possible solutions include seeking private sector funding, pursuing development elsewhere in the 53rd Street TIF district, and extending the time from for the district's TIF debt from 24 years to 36 years.

Still, Beth McGuire, the city's project manager, insisted the project will still have sufficient money for completion, citing the banks' confidence in the endeavor. "Nobody would be approving this if there wasn't enough money to pay for it," she said. The project has already secured funding for its first phase, which includes retail, parking space, and an office tower which the University has already leased.

Students and community members aired their concerns as well. First-year and Southside Solidarity Network (SSN) member Sofia Flores objected to a Hyatt Hotel that wil be built there. SSN objects to TIF funding being used to support a project that works with the Hyatt, which SNN claims mistreats its employees. "We want to make sure the workers have rights.," Flores said.

Kiley Russel, owner of Big Girl Cosmetics on South Harper Avenues off 53rd street, claimed that construction workers are hurting business by taking up parking spaces in the area. "We're being crushed," she said.

Construction on Harper Court began in August and will conclude by summer 2013.

In an editorial, the Chicago Maroon of February 21 the University should extend its partnership with "second chance" employment groups such as CARA, Career Pathways, and Inspiration Kitchen to arranging/suggesting jobs in such improvements as the businesses of the new Harper Court.

Parking crisis and other matters affecting businesses viability blossomed by November and December 2011.

It started with at least two businesses say they are hurt by Harper Court construction. University says it helps businesses in and not in UC buildings. IS HELP GIVEN EVENLY? (complaints include construction workers taking up parking- still unresolved by early Dec. 2011. Complaints spread to nearly all businesses by December 7 meeting called by Ald. Burns, SECC, Chamber of Commerce (scroll down).

Chicago Maroon, November 11, 2011. By Celia Bever

Two local small business owners claim that University-sponsored construction projects on 53rd Street have hurt their sales. Ras Sekou, owner of Frontline Books on South Harper Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets, said he had not been aware of how much the Harper Court-related construction would impact his business. He was informed of the impending projects last June by Scott Mosak of HSA Commercial Real Estate, the company that is working with the University on the development, but sekou said was told the construction would not influenced business. However, when construction began August 8, a fence along the north side of 53rd street cut off traffic that previously brought customers to Frontline. Sekou said that his sales have decreased by an average of 85 to 90 percent since the construction began. As a result, Sekou said, he has had trouble paying rent, cut back hours for his employees, and no longer has money to advertise.

Frontline wil not survive the next few years if sales don't pick up as construction continues, according to Sekou. "Every day becomes more depressing," he said. With four years left on his lease, Frontline faces two more years of neighboring construction. Last year, Sekou also leased the space next to the store with plans to open a juice bar. Those plans have been halted due to the current financial hardship.

Up the street, Checker Board Lounge has experienced similar problems, b ut was not aware of the construction beforehand. "I can't get any customers to come," Lounge owner LC Thurman said. "I wouldn't have signed the lease if I'd know about it."

The University held several public meetings with business leaders and community members to involve them in the development process, according to University spokesperson Wendy Parks. Sekou said he went to one of the meetings about a week before construction began but was again told--this time by one of the developers--that his store would not be affected.

"We always had an open dialogue with the community," Parks said. "We're certainly willing to talk to Frontline." Sekou is seeking assistance to keep the store open, but said that attempts to discuss options with the University have been unsuccessful. "Nobody showed any concern," he said. Thurman also said he contacted the University but was told there was nothing they could do for him. He is in teh process of looking for a lawyer, he said and figuring out what to do next. Sekou has already hired a lawyer to look into the possibility of being compensated for the loss of income, but said he hopes things will not go that far. "We really don't want to sue," he said. Sekou also said he recognizes the University's right to build on the property. "This is not about hostility," Sekou said. "This is about business and survival."

Across the street from Frontline, the restaurant Park 52 has not been having such troubles, according to business manager alex Brauvermann. He attributes the restaurant's relative success in weathering the effects of the development to good advertising using social media. "It hasn't been too bad," Brauvermann said. "We stay proactive in letting the customers know we're still open." Sekou alleges that Park 52, located in a University-owned building, receives help from the University. Though Brauvermann would not comment, Parks confirmed that the University has aided local businesses affected by the construction, both those located on University property and those that aren't. Big Girl Cosmetics, which is in a building not owned by the University, was given help to build a more prominent sign, Parks said.

...Sekou expressed ... recognition of he potential upsides to the development. "I have no problem with the construction... if we survive, it will be beneficial to us," Sekou said. "In the meantime, how do we survive?"

CBS 2 News got into the act in early December, largely summarizing other sources.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Not everyone is thrilled about the sweeping redevelopment project that will bring a new hotel and university office building to Hyde Park.

Work has been underway since of the Harper Court, where a mixed-use development is under construction to replace the old restaurant and retail complex that had stood on the site since the 1960s.When the project is complete, the site will include a new Hyatt Hotel, as well as a 12-story, 150,000 square-foot office tower that will be used by the University of Chicago, and a three-story retail building.

The groundbreaking for the new development was held last month. U of C President Robert J. Zimmer and Ald. Will Burns (4th) were among those in attendance.

But Frontline Books, an Afrocentric bookstore at 5206 S. Harper Ave. across from the Harper Court site, says the construction has been hurting its business. Bookstore staffers are set to be joined by other local business representatives for a news conference at 2:30 p.m. Monday. They say the U of C, which owns Harper Court and is spearheading the redevelopment, is inconsiderate toward small businesses and is impairing their revenues.

Frontline Books owner Ras Sekou told the Chicago Maroon U of C student newspaper last month that since work began on the site, his bookstore’s sales have dropped by 85 to 90 percent. A construction fence has been set up on the north side of 53rd Street, and it is keeping traffic away from the block where the bookstore is located, Sekou told the Maroon. Sekou told the Maroon in November that he has already had trouble paying rent and had to cut back his employees’ hours, and the store might end up going out of business if sales do not pick up as construction progresses over the next couple of years. Sekou leased the storefront next to Frontline with plans for a juice bar last year, but those plans have been called off because of the financial problems the store is suffering, the Maroon reported.

A short distance to the north, the legendary blues club the Checkerboard Lounge also says the construction at Harper Court is having an adverse effect on its business, the Maroon reported in November. Owner LC Thurman told the Maroon last month that he would not have signed the lease on the property if he had known about the pending construction project.

In 2003, the Checkerboard made a high-profile move from its home since 1972 at 423 E. 43rd St. in Bronzeville, to a single-story building at 5201 S. Harper Ave. that had previously housed a Women’s Workout World gym.

The U of C purchased Harper Court for $6.5 million in 2008, in hopes that the purchase would help revitalize the commercial strip in Hyde Park on 53rd Street. Back in 2000, a new Tax Increment Financing District was created for the strip, and $20 million in tax-increment financing subsidies will go toward the project, according to published reports.

The new 130-room hotel on the site, to be named the Hyatt Place Chicago @ Hyde Park, will feature dedicated underground parking, a restaurant, a wine bar, a swimming pool, a fitness facility for hotel guests, and meeting rooms. It is set to open in 2013.A new LA Fitness athletic club will be among the retail anchors at the site. The U of C says the retail and dining spaces in the development are already 83 percent leased.

But many popular businesses were displaced from the old Harper Court buildings. Among the displaced tenants was the Creole restaurant Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop, which closed in May 2009. The restaurant was a favorite of President Barack Obama, who famously recommended it in 2001 on the WTTW-Channel 11 restaurant review show “Check Please.” The Dixie Kitchen’s longtime sister restaurant, Calypso Café, hung on until June 5 of this year, but had to close as the building that housed it was slated for demolition.

When it opened in 1965, Harper Court was largely made up of arts and music-related businesses. As recently as a few years ago, it had 23 stores, including Dr. Wax Records, Maravilla’s Mexican Restaurant, the Toys Et Cetera toy store, and the Hyde Park Animal Clinic.

Information from the December 7 meeting.

The meeting was convened by Ald. Burns, the Chamber, SECC, with a reps. of the developer and McHugh Constr. and the University present. Many business persons were upset about inability to get deliveries and for customers to park or even stop/drop off. Many businesses reported a drastic drop off in traffic and sales. Parking, drop-of/deliveries, and access were called the three major causes. Announced was that new signage was put up on Harper Ave. and the Theater calling attention to the businesses north of the construction zone (attendees asked for additional), a 15-minute zone was created on the east side of Harper Ave. north of 53rd, and accommodations such as modifications to fence lines as possible made on 52nd Place to allow deliveries and for trucks to get oriented in the right direction to leave. Every effort will be made to get the sheet work out of the way first and fast along 52nd Place and to allow people in wheelchairs to access the doctors' offices. The work cannot be phased because so much of the area will have underground parking and pillars an work will be going on throughout the site. The city will not allow opening the underground parking while construction is going on above. While every effort will be made to get the lot to the west of Harper open as soon as possible, that will of necessity be late in the projects (trailers there for now)-- in essence "no". A route to walk around the west perimeter to get from 53rd to business to the north was generally thought impractical, as would be a walk path through the site except for people to get to the Columbian Apts. Harper Avenue will not even get permits for some time and will not be done til the end of the construction.

A major concern was construction workers parking by businesses and taking away parking. The developers said they were trying to enforce. A problem was perceived with coordination when it was revealed that contractors for the Harper Theater and Clarke's were using the lot behind former Borders. Coordination and meetings of all the projects was urged. Some asked for 53rd Harper to Lake Park to be a 15-minute drop off zone. Challenges were cited, including providing a win-win for the city and LAZ parking (negotiation being necessary) and who would provide/pay for security or other means to enforce. Some pointed out that such zones in other parts of the city are successfully managed. An SSA was suggested- much too late? Another problem is that more deliveries are being made on 53rd St., which is becoming congested. Construction vehicles in the block to the west were also cited.

There was widespread feeling that insufficient planning was done, promises including commitment to provide temporary parking were made and not kept, and that someone (University?) should somehow make it up or allow all businesses to survive the construction, not just those favored as fitting into a "vision" for the retail mix. (Cited was that 1 of the last 2 black independent bookstores in Chicago is threatened-- and has a 5 year least it can't break). Various suggestions on street parking time limits and pricing were suggested, also shuttles and deployment of parking in the bank/Borders lots. Lamented was that arrangements were not made long ago re the Cornell/53rd lot, though that was called a blip in the total demand. There were repeated demands to go the University and ask "what are you going to do about this and restore trust?"

Note: Over the course of Harper Court planning, HPKCC with others developed a set of Principles for Redevelopment of Harper Court (see indexes at top of page to view these). One stressed mitigation of inconvenience, loss of income and threat to viability to businesses and neighbors due to construction or in the final product. One called for a fair mix of business types, sizes, local vs national ownership, affordability ranges, and products and not to skew in a way that excludes local, small, unique, character, and existing businesses. Both speak to inpact on the 53rd-Lake Park business district and its businesses. One can conclude that a present both principals are in danger of being derailed. GO



Demolition started August 1 2011 with asbestos. The Farmers Market has moved to 53rd and S. Hyde Park. Where should people park?
The project is under short-term financing pending full underwrite. Various work and fencing in the lot and at Hollywood Video were under way by August 9. To construction log.


Schedule update December 7 2011.

12/5-12-9- complete caissons for future basement ramp, install caissons at middle portion east half and south portion of east half. Trench for sheeting installation. Remove ComEd power

12/12-12/16. Finish caissons east half. Install sheeting 52nd Pl, Harper, south of Park 52 EXPECT VIBRATION. Excavate ComEd duct through East portion.

12/19-12/23. Install sheeting along future ramp to north portion of site (between Checkerboard and McDonalds). Install more caissons on east half. Install sheeting in southeast corner of the site.

The noisiest time - in the 3-4 weeks into January. By mid January the caissons and sheet pilings will be in and a site crane will then be installed-- while its swing will cover the entire site, there will never be materials hoisted over the streets or walks. Basement (parking garage and deliveries) excavation will then begin.

Harper Court construction Schedule- starting end of July 2011
By Gary Ossewaarde

July 27, Wednesday, 8 am. Business meeting with 53rd merchants at Pizza Capri:

After introduction by Ald. Will Burns, Dave Riordan of McHugh and others explained the construction schedule and answered questions.
A website with week-by-week schedule will be put up.

Work schedule is 8 am-4:30 or 5 pm (latter depending). Up to 120 workers are expected at any one time.

Immediate schedule: through the first week of August, asbestos work and preliminaries are already underway.

Monday, Second week of August or later 6-foot covered fences start to go up around the entire site (with exceptions) starting at Hollywood Video and going around the corner of Lake Park-53rd. (By September nearly the entire site will be enclosed.)
There will be a narrow walk open along 53rd.
Lake Park sidewalk will be closed. (Part of the lot will remain open during week 1.)
Harper will be closed north of the theater, but not the lot behind the west building at first, and there will be access along the 52nd Pl. alley behind Valois etc. A walkway to get to the Columbia Apartments will be open.

Com-Ed work starts the first week of August, starting in Lake Park Ave. (that’s why the top coating has not been laid on the west side 51st-53rd- the project will pay for paving). No power interruption is expected. Lines will be run from Lake Park and west on 52nd There will be a new line from the substation into the site. This should take under 4 weeks.
First to come down by mid August will be Hollywood Video (will be knocked into the basement).

By late September the whole lot will be closed and the two remaining Harper Court buildings will be coming down, then foundation work will start.
Construction and dump trucks will by October be coming in heavy via Harper from the north and Lake Park via 52nd east of Park 52 building.
Caisson-pounding will be starting, going for about a month—30-foot sheets- will be vibration but thank goodness it’s sand from about 4 feet down). Vibratech will have measuring stations and check all buildings periodically; a phone number will be posted.

Cement trucks will be starting heavy by January for foundations, etc.
About next September buildup starts. The office tower will be last.

Parking. There-Is-No-Plan for the general public. The team and University spokesperson said the lot is usually nearly empty, people having compensated maybe in expectation. They are trying to make arrangements with the University and private lots (the Bank), as far as 4 blocks away for the public and construction workers, but nothing has been decided. While street parking will be lost (esp. on Lake Park and on Harper- both altogether by the site, the parking meter agreement apparently requires the alderman to provide additional temporary metered spaces to compensate for metered spaces lost. (This may not have been understood correctly, but the alderman did say “an equal number of metered spaces.”). This was in response to one business owner who suggested making all spaces in the vicinity free for the duration—he was told by the project that restaurants would get a lot of business from construction workers.
Construction workers (up to 120 at any one time) are forbidden to park on 53rd—and parking will be forbidden, period on Lake Park. They will be encouraged to park at a distance or use Metra.

At a residents meeting August 4 at Park 52, some more details were given. The most contention was over 1 needs of residents on Blackstone (it was made clear they would have to provide their own n-s alley if they wanted one) 2 inconvenience along Lake Park, including that the bus stop would have to be moved to the south side by Boarders, a very narrow walk.


LA Fitness signed- will it be the lynchpin to finance signing? UC, Hyatt were already in place. Fitness to take up nearly half the retail space.

According to the Herald August 10 2011 on August 8 the developers announced LA Fitness signed a lease for 31,500 sq. ft. on the third floor of the office tower. (retail will occupy the ground level, parking will be in the basement and 2nd floors and UC-leased office space 4th-12th floors.) The city is to sell the site (city parking lot valued at $3.2 million) to UC for $1, and at some point it will go to the developer.

In related news, UC, now owner of the Border, is expected to make its lot available for parking during construction. Chris Dillion of Vermilion told the Herald that getting new parking done and up is top priority.

Funding Harper

Herald, July 27, 2011. by Sam Cholke

Developers of the Harper Court shopping center said last week they hope to have financing secured for the project within the next month. "We have signed a term sheet with a lender for the debt financing for teh project," said Dave Cocagne, president and cEO of vermilion, Development, the lead partner in the project. ... The slated cost is $114 million, which does not include a condo tower that is planned for phase two.

Cocagne said residents should expect to see fencing going up at the end [?] of August as a sign of the ensuing demolition and construction. Vermilion last projected financing would be secured by the end of May. Plans for the development were hurried through the city approval process last year to take advantage of a special tax break that was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Though the developers met the application deadline for the tax break, they did not wrap up their financing in time to be be a part of the program.

"We are working assiduously to get the financing complete," Cocagne said, assuring that it would not delay the construction schedule. "A few months, in the end is a very workable extension to our original timeframe." Cocagne decline to identify who developers approached to fund the project because negotiations were ongoing, but said it was a major bank.

Update to HP Chamber of Commerce brunch April 20, 2011

Harper Court Partners described updates and answered many questions. They welcome submission of retail concepts and referrals and want to talk with organizations. Christopher S. Dillion of Vermilion can be reached at 312 268-5691, fax 312 268-6801, chris@vermiliondevelopment.com. 180 N. Stetson Ave, Ste. 3500, Chicago, Il 60601.

They said they are a few weeks for signing the total deal. They have the 80% lease (UC plus health club) that is key to to the financing, government approval, and willingness of other business to lease for newly built spaces.

The health club is reduced from 50,000 sf to 31,000 sf at the club's request plus desire to increase parking spaces.

The emphasis now on the retail is on restaurants- about half of 40,000 sf. especially on the interior street. Apparel is targeted (with actual discussions in progress) on Lake Park, but the corner is expected to be a high-end restaurant and other prime retail west of there.

Serious concern was expressed by SECC and business thinkers that the proportion of retail to restaurant be higher and include opportunities of local businesses to come in. They said receptive and want locals to contact them. They are working on ways in the interior retail area to combine eating and either retail or entertainment in the same spaces. But they indicated difficulty accommodating Checkerboard Lounge, Second City et al. It's a strategic balancing act, they said. They have a brokerage team. It was suggested to them that they meet with community organizations about these matters-- SECC, Chamber, HPKCC. They were interested.

The other extensive expressions of concern were about parking (during construction and after), staging, and opening Harper Avenue. They said most of their work will be after Harper Theater is finished. Staging will stay on footprint. They want to get started late summer if possible. Temporary parking will move around, stressing keeping parts of the lot open as long as possible, putting parking (and staging) in the main section and where the west building is, and some remote lots to be provided by U of C and others (very vague). Then the main garage(well over 200 spaces) and surface parking will open ahead of retail. Total of over 300 permanent spaces. That will be open to the public and priced neutral to or a bit below other parking in the area but graded to move cars and discourage long-term parking.

Work on opening Harper Avenue depends on city scheduling; the city knows the project's schedule and need.

Herald, April 27, 2011. "on schedule." By Sam Cholke

The redevelopment of the Harper Court shopping center is on schedule with more demolition coming soon. At a April 19 meeting with the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, developers said they were still finalizing leases and financing for the project, but would be moving forward with clearing the site in coming months. The building west of Harper Avenue, the former home of the Hyde Park Animal Clinic and state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13), will be demolished this summer. The cleared site will be the major staging ground for the rest of the project, which will include a hotel, retail and an office tower.

The University of Chicago will rent the office space, and finalizing that lease will push the project up to 80 percent rented, according to Chris Dillion of Vermilion Development, one of the firms partnered on developing the since. The lease still has to be finalized with the fitness center. "We're literally a few weeks away from inking all those deals," Dillion said. The developers have secured tax subsidies for the project, but have not finalized the private capital. Signed final leases would strengthen the financing application, according to Dillion.

The city also has to finish several reviews of the project. The City Council is now considering the contract guiding taxes subsidies. The developers have secured city permits for the foundation but not the buildings. The property is still owned by University of Chicago, which purchased the shopping center in 2008. The adjoining parking lot to the east is still owned by the city. The developers are still looking for options to replace the parking offered at the city-owned lot during construction.


In an interesting twist, the Herald of May 11 reports that Vermilion did not finish securing its funding in time to get into the Federal program that would have allowed it to issue tax-free bonds of $114 million. The developer decided or had no choice but to go with more traditional financing, apparently without jeopardizing either the project or the working of the TIF funding and balance (a tight squeeze).
The TIF funding and approval were worked out and needed to be rushed through the TIF and the city in 2010, the community was told in July 2010, in order to get that essential federal benefit. (This stimulus program netted the city overall $199M to spur various developments.)

Legally, TIFs can only fund infrastructure improvements (roads, sewers), not buildings or services, but have some waivers for construction loan interest payments so developers can cover other costs with the tax subsidy.

Cocagne is reported by the Herald as saying he expected the private capital to be secured by the end of May 2011.


Questions were being raised, starting at least with the Nov. 14 2011 TIF meeting and continuing at the January about labor relations and the Hyatt-affiliated hotel planned for the site. In March (see below), Smart Hotels answered many, but not the permanent-staff union representation issue. The hotel project's website is http://www.hydeparkchicagohotel.com.

The union and a teachers solidarity organization were still writing letters and holding demonstrations in the summer of 2012 asserting the the Hotel component should not be built because school funding is in a terrible crisis and they don't like public money going to developers--it appears this objection is based in part on their belief this goes to the Pritzker family, which (or its corporation) is both having hotel labor disputes and is heavily involved in Chicago education issues and governance, which are highly politicized and in the midst of union contract negotiations. (They also claim Hyatt and the Pritzkers do not pay a fair share of taxes-- reality unknown to this writer- where does the group gets that the hotel doesn't pay property taxes for 10 -years-- they will pay both the old and the increment. This hotel project has set forth a number of things it will do for its workers (see Ald. Burns letter below). It says it will not commit to being unionized before it hires-- and such agreement is something that is seldom done these days.)

This writer notes that the developer of the Hotel is not Hyatt but Smart LLC and it will be operated by Olympia companies, which are separate franchises from Hyatt Hotels Corporation, which has no stake in either Smart of Olympia and will not be getting any money from the TIF expenditure, nor will members of the Pritzker family. The conclusion would be that any money they receive(d) was from creating and franchising the building and operating companies, of which this project is just a component, and from owning stock. The $5 million from TIF is only a small part of the funding for the hotel construction and backs the construction loans-- it is banks and other backers that have first call on the TIF money.
Are schools etc. losing out? For the life of the tif, government entities forgo the increment of the district. And to the extent that Harper Court has taken so much TIF commitment that there will likely be nothing to use for specific schools (Kenwood and Canter, which need facilities money beyond what was given by the TIF), parks, public projects etc. in the TIF district during the duration of the TIF- yes. However, when the TIF expires in 2023-24, the tax base for schools and other government bodies will be much larger thanks to the developments, than they would be without them.
And what the TIF would have if Harper Court and th hotel were not in the picture would be miniscule to give to schools or anyone else now.

LATE MAY 2012: CITY BOARD, CITY COUNCIL OK'S A separation between Harper Court per say and the Hotel- $ SUBSIDY FROM THE 53RD ST. TIF FOR THE HOTEL. City Council vote was June 6? 2012. SEE BELOW FOR WHERE THE MONEY GOES.

According to a late May 2012 Herald article, Chicago City Council Finance Committee approved a $5.2M [?] subsidy for the 131 Hyatt in Harper Court. It is in the form of an amendment to previously-approved redevelopment agreement. The agreement specifies that the permanent hires be paid a "living wage" along with benefits.

Supporting statement of Ald. Will Burns as given in the Sun-Times: “This project is absolutely essential to the continued revitalization of the 53rd Street corridor and the Lake Park Ave. shopping corridor,” said local Ald. Will Burns (4th), whose ward includes the project.

“For over a decade, there were community planning processes to redevelop this area. The 4th Ward has not had a new hotel constructed there in over 50 years. And the hotel is central to the rest of the development, which includes an office tower and several thousand feet of additional retail space. I’m in support of this project because it will create — not just the temporary jobs, but full-time jobs.”

June 2012 update. As far as we know, there was no additional TIF Advisory Council consideration of $5.2M amendment to the redevelopment agreement-- to give subsidy to the Hotel after the overall vote in 2010 for a subsidy of $23.2- the Hotel at some point was pulled out of the whole. The Finance Committee and City Council in May-June 2012 approved the amendment for the hotel.


Update at the Chamber Networking March 1 as part of March 7 Herald report. Smart Hotel's Ed Small offers vision for Harper. By Erik Kenny

Construction at the former site of Harper Court will turn to above ground building in the coming weeks, including work on a new hotel. The Hyde Park Hyatt Place wil bed the neighborhood's first new hotel in decades. Progress is quietly being made on its construction, as workers have spent the past month working on underground facilities, including an underground parking garage.

The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce hosted a meeting last Thursday night for further information of the construction process. and what the hotel would offer upon completion. Ed Small, president of Smart Hotels, presented, along with CEO Jon Adams.

The Hyatt Place brand communicates comfort and style, and offers a reservation system with global reach, according to Small. Construction of the hotel will begin in the coming weeks and will create 150 to 200 union jobs. Also, approximately 30 permanent jobs with benefits will be created. Small expects the hotel to have a big influence on the community while attracting nearly 50,000 overnight guests to Hyde Park each year.

Instead of having to stay in the Loop on overnight visits, guests can stay at this hotel, with its 131 rooms. Having the hotel in the neighborhood will generate pedestrian traffic and boost spending at local restaurants, stores and other venues, Small said. "We won't host a restaurant because we want to give back to the community, so we promote going out to eat and shopping at local stores," Small said.

When asked why a neighborhood like this one struck his interest, he responded that he found it interesting and he's always been a "sucker" for interesting. "I believe this neighborhood is Chicago's best kept secret," Small said. There are plenty of cultual, institutional and educational amenities and is location is in great proximity to the lake and the Loop."

The Hotel is slated for opening in spring 2013. The hotel will bed six stories. Guest amenities will include a pool, fitness facility, cafe and wine bar, with sidewalk seating and meeting rooms.

Letter to the March 7 Herald by Smart Hotels/Olympia Chicago LLC, Ed Small President

We are excited to be bringing Hyde Park and the 4th Ward its first new hotel in nearly 50 years. While much work remains to be done, the site improvements are underway and we hope to receive our building pat and commence construction this spring. we understand tat the success of our hotel is dependent on Hyde Park's continued success and advancement. As a people-centric organization, our mission is "to provide a culture that focuses on employees as the cornerstone of a guest's experience." Consistent with our commitment to operate the hotel in a manner consistent with the community's interest, we are pleased to share the following:

We appreciate the community's support for our project and look forward to bringing this exciting project to fruition. In the meanwhile, pleases visit our website (hydeparkchicagohotel.com) for updates.

What's the money in the subsidy- where from and where to. (Note the source used below, Herald article June 13 2012 by Sam Cholke, based on the budget attached to the City Council ordinance, gives a figure of $2,901,145 rather than the $5.2 given in the late May article.)

(Some of the figures below- budget plus calculations are approximations or maximums)

Subsidy: $2,902,145 corrected to about $5.2M, which means several of the numbers below are not correct.
Total hotel cost: c$30.7M.
MB Financial loan to the hotel partners (developers): $21,500,000
Developers equity: $7,305,576
The two preceding total $28,805,576 leaving $1,894,424 from?
$2,902,145 (incorrect)- $1,895,425 leaves at least $1,006,720 of the subsidy being used for other than the $30.7 "hotel cost", see below (assuming an additional equity input to the $30.7 is not included here)
Land acquisition cost - to University of Chicago (paid $6.8M for the whole site, not broken down into hotel footprint):
of that $875,000 comes from the TIF leaving (c)$131,720 max. other costs coming from the subsidy
Remaining budgeted expenditures from the subsidy: $89,000 minimum
Job Training- $50,000,
Marketing- $30,000

Softs (insurance, permits...)- $9,000

Breakdown summary of the subsidy (approximate):

$1,894,424 at least directly to the hotel developer backers
$1,006,720+ for all other costs

$875,000 to University of Chicago for land acquisition
$89,000 to $131,720 for other- job training $50,000, Marketing $30,000, $9,000 soft

Total subsidy $2,902,145??????

MWBE breakdown in the budget

95% of contracts for concrete, masonry, plumbing, other hard- to minority and women-owned firms.
Smaller % for accounting, insurance, etc.
%5 for architecture and engineering- monetary total is $520,000

At the January 9 2012 TIF meeting, presentation and discussion was had on the Hyatt Hotel. A large group of students asked about such matters as whether the hotel would be unionized. The reply was said to be cautious, along the line that they would not oppose unionization should those hired desire it-- which is different from prenegotiating "hiring union." More information will be provided here as available.

November 14 2011: It is not clear to this site whether the concerns and alleged problems with the treatment of workers and anti-union stance at the main Hyatt chain apply here, and how and whether the boutique hotel operators Olympia Chicago and Smart Hotels are related or similar to the Hyatt company. As to the union question, the Hyatt at McCormick Place is union. Hyatt is in a long-running dispute with its unions. In addition, the hotel developer is expected to be distinct from Harper Court Partners in a spin-off. (For example, the latter will build a pad-atop-underground parking for the hotel, not build it. A question was raised about the extent that TIF money will go into the hotel-- a question that should well be asked, this writer thinks. The answer is likely that it already is in the 2010 agreement with the TIF that the city approved or that if this is a separate, as yet not answered request it will be "no" because the change of assessment will leave the TIF coffers low or empty or it will have to come from the developers' bankers and investors.

In any case, the unions, Southside Solidarity Network and others brought concerns to the Nov. TIF meeting and held a teach-in at the University of Chicago, similar to those held about a proposed hotel a few years ago at the Doctors' Hospital site. In addition, employees and Unite Here met with KAM's Social Justice Committee, which continues to meet on the matter.

Here's what the Herald said January 18 2012. Hotel project sparks union [and minority inclusion] debate[s]. By Sam Cholke

What was supposed to be a routine update on a new hotel for Hyde Park turned contentious last week when labor activists grilled the developer at a public meeting. On Jan. 9, representatives from Smart Hotels and Olympia Hotel Group reported on their planned Hyatt Hotel on Harper Avenue tot he 53rd street Tax Increment Financing District advisory council, which approved a $2.8 million tax subsidy for the 131-room hotel in 2010.

The meeting heated up when labor activists aggressively questioned the developers about union membership for the expected 20 full-time employees of the hotel. "Employees will by law have the right to join a union," said Ed Small of Smart Hotels, responding to questions about whether management would actively discourage union membership. Union workers are expected to perform all construction work on the six-story hotel.

The advisory council members remained largely silent as multiple factions in the audience tried to capture the high ground in a debate about workers that will not be hired for another year-and-a-half. Several Hyde Parkers and student activists aligned with hotel workers unions pushed Small and his associates to accept contract provisions that would allow easier union organization of the future employees.

Small and his associates positioned themselves as neutral and repeatedly reiterated that the company's mission statement includes a pledges to treat employees well. As the exchanges became increasingly heated, several in the audience tried to guide the conversation back to the involvement of the Black United Fund, which is soliciting minority-owned businesses to be involved in the construction and operation of the hotel. "I feel comfortable with their position from the conversations I've had," said Henry English, president and CEO of the fund, of the developers. "I trust them."

Hotel workers are a particularly touchy topic in Hyde Park. In 200i8, a hotel project for South Stony Island Avenue was aborted, in part because residents strenuously objected to the involvement of a firm with a particularly poor relationship with organized labor.

Ald. Will Burns (4th) said at the meeting he has been up front with developers about the expectations of the community. "I made it clear that this is a progressive, union friendly town and community," Burns said, adding that there is an expectation that employers treat employees well. "If they don't, we know what to do in the community, and we'll do it."

Jan. 18: Advocates to stage Harper Court action. In order to provide greater community input and in response to concern for union rights for Hyatt employees, an "alternative groundbreaking" is planned for the Harper Court development at 4 p.m., Friday, Jan. 27, followed by a reception at Southside Hub of Production, 5638 S. Woodlawn Ave. http://www.groundbuilding.org.

Since then, Smart Hotels have been holding small meetings including with the Chamber of Commerce March 1 2012 monthly networking. Here is a Chamber letter that appeared in the Herald the day before. (Persons aware of the controversy over labor and other questions and the sometimes raucous question-asking might wonder if the Chamber is saying to Hyde Park , "sit down and shut up."

"Kudos to Smart Hotels".

Smart Hotels LLC has made a wise investment by deciding to build in Hyde Park. We are a community of businesses, educators, organizations and residents committed to outstanding quality, exceptional excellence and world-class leadership. Since 1939, the Hyde Park Chamber of commerce has played a major role in the development of the Hyde Park business community. With more than two hundred members, the chamber is committed to creating business opportunities, supporting responsible commercial development and to building strong, lasting business relationships . The chamber is committed to assisting our members in culturally enriching and successfully adding economic value to our community. We believe that Smart Hotels LLC will do just that. We welcome their arrival in Hyde Park, their membership in the chamber and anticipate they wil be an active participant in our culturally rich, ethnically diverse neighborhood.

Susan Walker, President, Wallace Goode Executive Director, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce

Report in the Chicago Maroon of November 18, 2011, by Stephanie Xiao.

Hotel employees share stories of unfair working conditions at Hyatt and Hilton hotels in Chicago at a "teach-in" with students Tuesday night, claiming that similar conditions will exist at the new Hyde Park Hyatt location if the employees are unable to unionize. [The project has] a darker side, according to fourth-year Brita Hofwolt, a leader o teh RSO Southside Solidarity Network (SSN), which organized the event. "By bringing in the workers, we hope to expose more students to workers' issues and let them see the face of this new development," Hofwolt said.

The hotel employees described injuries they sustained on the job while working increasingly long hours under the constant fear of losing their jobs. "Your body is breaking down, but they just say you should be glad to have a job"... The employees also objected that their wages remain low, even as their workloads grew. [Managers] "just care if the rooms are clean. We are the ones who put the stars on the hotel..."

A particular point of contention was the possible use of public funds for the development. Currently, the Hyatt Corporation is requesting (TIF) funds from the city for the construction of the Hyde Park Hyatt. However, the request for public funds creates a strategic opening, Hofwolt said. "The public has leverage, and the window is right now," she said. [This is likely mistaken, the approvals having been made and in effect and more are out of the question.]...

The August 24 2011 Herald reported that significant changes to the hotel facade were presented to the Chicago Plan Commission August 18- and still met with grumps. About half the facade of tawny zinc-like panels will now have a more expensive ochre-colored porcelain material. But for the rest the zinc panels that are supposed to shimmer with blues and grays will remain. A Commissioner who lives in Hyde Park, Kevin Slaughter, was still thought the colors unexciting. The developers do not have to follow the Commission's tastes.

Here is some more information on the Hotel, from BRONZECOM based on press release from Harper Court Partners March 4:

Harper Court Partners released some details this morning about the hotel operator
for Hyde Park's Harper Court.

Olympia Chicago LLC and Smart Hotels, a company that specializes in campus hotels,
have been selected to build and operate Hyatt Place Chicago @ Hyde Park.

The six-story, 130-room hotel will be located on Harper, just north of 52nd Place,
according to Christopher Dillion from Vermilion Development. The hotel, which
is set to open in 2013, will feature underground parking, a restaurant, wine bar,
pool, and fitness facilities, according to the press release. Hartshorne Plunkard
is the master designer of Harper Court, but Smart/Olympia will be bringing
Legat Architects in to design the hotel. We don't have any renderings to share
just yet, but Dillion says that more details about the hotel will be discussed
at a TIF meeting on Monday at 6:30PM at the Hyde Park Art Center.

Details, from 1537 News copy and paraphrase of press release from Vermilion/Harper Court Partners (March 5 2011?)

Harper Court
to be Home
to Hyatt Place
Two out-of-state firms plan to build a Hyatt Place with about 130 rooms at the University of Chicago-owned Harper Court shopping center, as part of the ambitious redevelopment plan for the property at Harper Avenue just north of 53rd Street.

A joint venture of Beachwood, Ohio-based Smart Hotels LLC and Olympia Cos. of Portland, Maine, is to build and operate the hotel.

The two firms have signed a franchise agreement with an affiliate of Chicago-based Hyatt Corp., according to Vermilion’s press release.

“A quality hotel has been a longstanding need for the community,” Dave Cocagne, president of Chicago-based Vermilion, says in the statement. “It will play a key role in the development of the 53rd Street corridor.”

Financing for the hotel is being provided by Recovery Zone Facility Bonds to be issued by the Illinois Finance Authority.

Smart specializes in campus hotels, though no properties are identified on the company’s website, while Olympia operates 16 hotels, according to Vermilion’s press release.

Vermilion tapped the Smart Hotels-Olympia venture after issuing a request for proposals from hoteliers last fall.

Mr. Cocagne in January said Vermilion had letters of intent for 60% of the project’s roughly 80,000 square feet of retail space.

The first phase, which has a roughly $100-million budget, is to include the hotel, retail and a 150,000-square-foot office building to be used at least partially by the university.

The hotel is to open in 2013, coinciding with the first phase of the redevelopment, according to a press release from Vermilion Development, which is heading the overall project.

It will be operated by Olympia Hotel Management, the operating arm of The Olympia Companies based in Portland, Maine. Olympia is a leading hospitality management company with a collection of high quality franchised and independent properties throughout the east coast.

The Olympia Companies has been in operation since 1969 and currently owns and/or manages 16 hotels from Charlottesville, VA to Bangor, Maine.

SMART Hotels, LLC was formed to create a new standard for campus hospitality with hotels tailored to the unique attributes of each campus and community. SMART Hotels exclusively focuses on top-ranked universities and medical centers.

The two companies just closed a similar project at Duke University and The Duke Medical Center with the Hilton Hotel group which has just broken ground on a $222 million dollar Cancer Center just off the Duke University Campus.

Herald report on March 7 meeting of the TIF planning subcommittee. March 9, 2011. By Sam Cholke

The developers of Har pre Court announced March 3 they have partnered with Smart. Hotels and olympia Chicago to build a 130-room Hyatt Hotel. The hotel, currently called Hyatt Place at Hyde Park, will include a restaurant, wine bar, pool, fitness facilities, meeting space and underground parking garage for guests.

Chris Dillion of Vermilion Development Development said they spoke to a dozen hotel operators and flew five out to Chicago before deciding on Smart and Olympia. The hotel will be the second of Hyatt's Gem Two properties, which frees the developers to be m ore creative with the interior and exterior design.

The building will be six stories and covered in large zinc an brown panels of alternating hues, according to Allen Bombick of Legat Architects. The south west corner of the building will rise in a tower of suite windows that illuminate the street below in the evenings.

response to teh design at a mary 6 community meeting at the Hyde Park Art Center was lukewarm. "That building says medical office," said one man in the audience. "When I look at that building, it doesn't say revitalize Hyde Park, it says come get a checkup." Bombick attributed the comment to the low quality of the renderings, not the overall design, and said he would be back with drawings that better highlighted the subtle color variations in the panels.

The main entrance for the hotel will be at teh northwest corner of the building on Harper Avenue. spaces have been reserved along the east and west faces of the building for a cafe and retail store.

The hotel wil be built as part of phase one of the redevelopment, which will also include retail spaces, restaurants and a two-story fitness center topped by an office tower for the University of Chicago. The second phase will include a condo tower and rental housing.

Smart Hotels is an Ohio-based company that focuses on developing boutique hotels for universities. The company, founded in 2008, is working on another hotel project at Duke University, according President ed Small. Several other hotel projects are in early development, he said.

Small made a $1,000 contribution to Will Burns' campaign for alderman on Feb. 26, four days after the election. Small said he supported strong voices of the community and mailed the check before the election.

Hotel operator Olympia Hotel Management runs 15 hotels on the Eastern Seaboard, many near its headquarters in Portland, Maine. The hotels range from the upscale hilton Garden Inn in Portland's waterfront district, to more traditional hotels by Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn an other companies.

The hotel will make use of Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, a federal stimulus program that gives developers a refund on some taxes on interest payments. the project has been approved for up to $65 million in such bonds. The project was quickly shepherded through city approvals late last year by former Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) to meet the program's 2010 deadline.

The Harper Court redevelopment is a joint project between Vermilion Development, JFJ Development and the Drexel Group, an investment firm founded by Kurt Summers, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's chief of staff. Summers said he remains a the Drexel group, but ha no active involvement in the Harper Court project. Dillion said the Drexel Group was involved in courting retail tenants and facilitating the community planning process but will not be financially invested in the development.

Dillion said the development partners are still lining up the $65 million in private investments for the project and working with developer Draper and Kramer, which owns the Lake Meadows Apartments and other high-rises in the neighborhoods immediately north of Hyde Park. MB Financial Bank will finance the hotel.

The hotel will be located roughly where the current demolition site is next to Calypso Cafe, 5211 S. Harper Ave. The University of Chicago bought the entire shopping center in May 2008 for $6.5 million from what is now the Harper Court Arts Council foundation. The university will also purchase the adjoining city parking lot for $1 and hold the entire property until the project is complete. The city estimates the parking lot land to be worth $3.2 million. The 53rd Street Tax Increment financing District Advisory council has also approved a $20 million subsidy for the project. The first phase of the project is expected to cost $106 million and to be completed in 2013.


Summary by Gary Ossewaarde, who attended the March 7 2011 meeting.

The March 7 meeting of the 53rd St. TIF Planning and Development Subcommittee was convened at Hyde Park Art Center by Chuck Thurow and Rich Cohen, co-chairs. Presents with the audience of about 30 were representatives of Vermilion/Harper Court Partner, Smart, Olympia, some partners, and Susan Campbell from the University of Chicago.

Smart and Olympia (the latter formed in 1969 and runs hotels for various chains) were arrived at via RFP to which a dozen firms responded and five were flown in. Smart and Olympia were chosen because they adhere to specific principals highlighted for Harper Court including pedestrian friendliness, celebratory of Hyde Park and the project's architectural context, have done similar projects especially with university campuses, combine development and operational experience, and have non-generic examples. They have a project near Midway and 1120 in Oak Park. They would bring the Hyatt Place brand and thus work with McCormick Place overflow and be able to be innovative. Some of the things in this project, particularly the panel materials, would be improved state of the art. The name is expected to be Hyatt Place at Hyde Park.

The hotel arrangement and materials are limited by both budget and the prescribed footprint. Thus there will be only a modest meeting space- certainly not a conference center. And no rooftop, although that was said partly to concentrate energy at street level. They will do everything possible to accommodate the largely service drive on the south side, which faces in many cases the backdoors of 53rd St. businesses. There will be underground connections to other parts of the complex, but mainly to accommodate access to parking (which enters ultimately from 52nd St.). There will be approximately 130 rooms. The pricing was not discussed. Nor was whether there might be labor problems considering that Hyatt is among the big players that have an ongoing expired contract.

Graphics disappointed, but that was partly due to florescent lights, when these were off it looked better, and so did samples of the paneling. Some thought it looked more like an office building or 19th century factory.

The 6-story hotel will front on Harper Avenue at 52nd Place. The entry and valet parking will be at the northwest corner, with an outdoor cafe leading into a high-ceiling lobby with a wine bar. The parking elevator and service entry will be just around the southwest corner. Back of the house spaces will be along the south face, which will have little 1st-floor window space until one reaches the retail southeast corner. Retail reaches around the east side and a fitness center will be open glass along the north face that is on the Harper Court retail street. The West side will be a kind of glowing glass (LED), the north part of this wall also having a reflective brownish panel material and the south part a lighter reflective zinc panel material. Moving upwards, rooms will be oriented in all four directions, windows on the south, north, and east will punch through large sections of either the brownish or light zinc paneling. There will be a couple sections without variation made by windows because the rooms face in four different directions. Presenters said there will be much variation in the paneling, especially as they weather, but some in the audience suggested doing something to break up those large sections visually. The two treatments will sweep past each other at top or bottom so there will be a sense of "hanging together." The treatments are intended to echo architectural treatments and colors of buildings in the area. They will strive for Silver LEED certification. For example, the panel materials are insulating.

At the end Chuck Thurow pronounced it "moving in the right direction." A repeat presentation would be part of the regular TIF meeting the next week.

Herald says the TIF council applauded the hotel plan at the March 14 full meeting. (The presentation was much reduced from that March 7 and there were virtually no questions v March 7.) March 16, 2011 by Sam Cholke

Developers presented plans for a hyatt hotel to the 53rd street Tax Increment Financing District advisory council on March 14. The council responded positively after on of its committees was critical of the hotel design and the architect revamped the renderings. The 130-room hotel will be a central feature in the redevelopment of the Harper Court Shopping Center, which will also include numerous retail spaces, an underground parking garage and an office tower.

The full council wa more approving of plans to put the attention of the hotel's activity on three sides, partially ignoring the current alley entranceway to the city parking lot. "The rear of VAlois does not look attractive," said council chair Howard Males. "I have no eyes for aesthetics at all, but I have a nose for garbage." Council member Chuck Thurow chimed in to add that it would be more of a city street than it currently is after the developer opens in the spring of 2013. The audience appeared to passively agree, leaving the issue to rest, and instead asking about the possibility of a continental breakfast being served at the new hotel.

The council remained critical of the business plan for the hotel and member Ilene Jo Reizner questioned Smart Hotels President Ed Small about how many rooms the hotel would need to be occupied to turn a profit. Small hedged before stating that about 70 percent of the rooms would need to be booked continuously. "The University... and the medical center give us a base of demand that allows us to expand to serve the rest of the community," S,a;; assured.

Also at the meeting, Tony Fox, who will operate a new five-screen theater across the street from the hotel, clarified some of his plans with New 400 of Rogers Park. The theater wil focus on art films and show some mainstream movies, he said There will be one screen setup to project digital 3-D films, he added.

[Other questions asked were about safety and security in the future Harper Court and getting people around, including commitment to having a trolley.]

Harper Court Partners reach out to Kenwood Academy students

Draws upon a feature in Hyde Park Herald May 2, 2012 by Daschell M. Phillips

Parts of the development team met with 7th and 8th graders of an urban planning class. The subject was what it takes to build and development in a neighborhood setting. Speakers were Chris Dillon , Sophie Bidek (architect, Hartshorne Plunkard), and Ed Small (Smart Hotels). The assignment for the students is to tell what development they would design and build in Hyde Park, why, and how, for a million dollars. The inspiration came from parent Kimberly Brown. The team covered Hyde Park history and dynamics, changing role of retail and hotels, TIFs, RFQs, RFPs financing, dealing with job needs, community visioning, their vision of a destination that would fill needs including walkability and mixed uses. Presumably they let the students see just how complicated it is, and how it takes a big team to get coordinate and get something of this scale done, from the big picture to the details in the office and on the ground--why it takes a long time.


A big-picture story from the Wall Street Journal Nov. 30 2011.

Note--the financial figures given are unreliable.

Wall Street Journal November 30, 2011

Academics of Real Estate
Across the U.S., new development projects are in short supply, given a cautious sentiment among lenders and investors.

Yet, in Chicago's Hyde Park, construction recently began on one of the South Side neighborhood's largest real-estate projects in decades, a $134 million retail, office and hotel development.

What's the secret? Academia.

In a new bid to revitalize an area just north of its campus, the University of Chicago is subsidizing the mixed-use project, known as Harper Court, through various forms of assistance.

The university is selling land to the developer for $1 million that it bought for about $9 million; it is guaranteeing the $22 million construction loan on the 130-room hotel; and it is leasing the full 150,000 square feet of office space. Further, the city of Chicago is putting in about $20 million in a subsidy that comes from forgone future taxes on the site.

The moves provided the spark for a development that wouldn't have occurred otherwise, in a neighborhood long eschewed by investors. A formal groundbreaking occurred earlier this month at the site in Hyde Park, a neighborhood filled with students, university staff and faculty. By and large, poorer neighborhoods surround it, and large new private developments have been few and far between.

In a new bid to revitalize an area just north of its campus, the University of Chicago is subsidizing the mixed-use project, known as Harper Court, through various forms of assistance.

The university is selling land to the developer for $1 million that it bought for about $9 million; it is guaranteeing the $22 million construction loan on the 130-room hotel; and it is leasing the full 150,000 square feet of office space. Further, the city of Chicago is putting in about $20 million in a subsidy that comes from forgone future taxes on the site.

The moves provided the spark for a development that wouldn't have occurred otherwise, in a neighborhood long eschewed by investors. A formal groundbreaking occurred earlier this month at the site in Hyde Park, a neighborhood filled with students, university staff and faculty. By and large, poorer neighborhoods surround it, and large new private developments have been few and far between.

The university has a history in Chicago of steadily expanding its campus with new dorms, labs and classrooms. But that isn't what's behind this foray into the real-estate investment arena. Rather, it is being fueled by a desire to make the area around its campus more attractive to its students and faculty.

"We're not trying to flip these properties for profit," says David Green, executive vice president at the University of Chicago. "We're trying to really help invest in a way to spur development in the area."

Taking the role of both master planner and pioneer investor, universities in economically struggling urban areas have increasingly taken the lead on commercial developments to improve the livability of their neighborhoods.

Schools including Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania have also put money into mixed-use projects, partly with an eye toward blending institutions into the surrounding neighborhoods and addressing problems of crime and poverty that discourage prospective students and their parents.

The University of Pennsylvania, for instance, began investing in real-estate developments in part to make its streets safer, when crime rates were higher in the mid-1990s.

The school followed the belief that to combat crime "in a non-flood-the-streets-with-police way is to bring vibrancy to the streets," says Craig Carnaroli, an executive vice president at the university.

Unlike private investors, of course, the schools have a goal in mind other than economic return, leading them to put money into projects that others won't. Given that they are looking to tap markets that are unproven, though, the schools face a higher risk for potential costly failure.

For example, the University of Chicago has long wanted a hotel and believed the academic environment would support one. But it had to guarantee the loan on the Hyatt Place planned for the Harper Court project.

Harper Court, on 53rd Street, is a historic retail strip, dotted with a hodgepodge of retail outlets, from banks to a mattress store. Its Valois Cafeteria, a classic neighborhood eatery, has occasionally been visited by President Obama upon his returns to Chicago.

But the university has higher aspirations. "It hasn't been a great neighborhood street, or a real destination where there's an interesting mix of shops and services," says Mr. Green.

At Harper Court, the developers are targeting midrange to higher-end dining and entertainment for the 42,000 square feet of remaining retail space, says Dave Cocagne, chief executive of Vermilion Development, one of the developers in the project. LA Fitness has committed to take about 33,000 square feet, while possible tenants previously mentioned by the developers include Panera Bread Co. and Whole Foods.

Harper Court is scheduled to be completed in 2013. The university is planning to seek a developer in coming months for another project on 53rd Street, on a site that currently houses a gas station.

Elsewhere on 53rd Street, the efforts of the school are aimed at renovating older buildings. Earlier this year, it began renovating an old movie theater, and it leased a storefront it owns to a 24-hour diner.

"You have a real healthy combination of interesting development opportunities and good buildings with interesting space," says Josh Sirefman, a consultant for the university on the revitalization and a former New York City economic development official.


Hyde Park Rides Again, But residents wary of revitalization plans by U. of C.

Chicago Tribune February 12, 2012. By Alejandra Cancino and Corilyn Shropshire. [Note, there are simplifications and compressions in the article; in many cases land assemblages and projects morphed or merged into something very different from where they started)- for more detail and background, see Development pages such as 53rd Street, Harper Court, Harper Theater, and City Hyde Park. ]

See companion article on Antheus Capital in Antheus page.

After more than a decade of planning, change is finally tangible along Hyde Park's East 53rd street corridor. Buildings have been renovated, a few restaurants have opened, and a site has been cleared for a hotel and 12-story office tower to be built on land owned by the University of Chicago. The wave of rejuvenation is being led by the U. of C., which, as Hyde Park's largest landowner, has a vested interest in improving its amenities--not only for students and faculty, but also to draw newcomers to teh area between 55th and 49th streets.

Because of its South Side location, however, Hyde Park had not attracted the kind of commercial development common in neighborhoods like Lakeview or Lincoln Park-- until now. "This area has always been hurt by the proximity to really poor neighborhoods," said Joe Schwieterman, a professor of public service at DePaul University. "Retail adn hospitality investment was scarce because of a felling that Hyde Park was an island." Over time, Schwieterman said, the poor neighborhoods have been pushed further out, as the university has snapped up land around its campus, Schwieterman said. In turn, Hyde Park has become more attractive to developers, he said.

The main project is a Hyatt hotel and office tower at 53rd street and Lake Park Avenue, partly funded with $29 million from the city [TIF]. The university, which owns the land, and LA Fitness are the anchor tenants of the office building. The developer hopes to bring 10 to 15 shops to the street-level space.

The university also has purchased a number of buildings around the hotel project, including the former Borders building where clothing chain Akira will open a flagship store in the fall. The U. of C. also owns the building where the New 400 Theaters will open in November, and the building adjacent to it, where a Five Guys Burgers and Fries set up shop in September. Across the street the university renovated a building where a Clarke's restaurant is opening Monday. "The university has a stake in making Hyde Park an attractive community, not only as a good neighbor, but it is also central to our mission to attract the best scholars," said Steven Kloehn, a university spokesman.

Key to the revamp is a city incentive program. The city designated an 84-acre area around 53rd Street a tax increment financing (TIF) district in 2001, allowing developers to tap into the incentives. The program was set up because the business corridor was in decline. Nearly a third of the buildings in the district showed a significant level of deterioration, according to a study prepared for the city, and residents were concerned about the lack of quality businesses and parking.

"The commercial strip seemed to be lagging behind the general economic rebirth in the neighborhood," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who pushed for the TIF designation when she was 4th Ward alderman. "Neighborhoods that have strong commercial activity are more exciting places to live and to visit." Preckwinkle said her goal was to attract more retailer hesitant to move to the South Side. "There were a lot of national chains that didn't think that there was any money in black communities, or racially diverse communities, and that made it harder for us," Preckwinkle said. "It's a misconception in the boardrooms of large white corporations." (The area between East 55th and East 47th streets is about 49 percent black and 33 percent white, and more than half of the residents are renters, according to 2010 Census Bureau figures.)

To bolster the project's chances of success, Preckwinkle said she recruited the University of Chicago. After years of meetings, both private and with the community, the $106 million [sic] Harper Court project emerged. As part of the renewal project, the university bought a handful of buildings and demolished them. It also bought a parking lot from the city for $1. finally, in a bidding process, they chose developer Harper Court Partners, a partnership between Vermilion Development and JFJ Development co.

Residents say they plan to keep a watchful eye on any impact on the neighborhood's economic diversity. "It is going to be very interesting to see the kind of businesses they recruit and whether they succeed or not," said resident George Rumsey, a former president of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. Rumsey said he'd like to see a mix of local and national stores and high-end restaurants. He is concerned because the area lost a number of local business when the university razed the handful of buildings on harper Avenue. Some, including Dr. Tom Wake's Hyde park Animal Hospital and clinic relocated nearby [the main hospital being well south on Stony Island]. But others, such as Dixie Kitchen, simply shut, never to return. Some of those businesses cited higher rents; said they didn't want to go through the hassles of opening a new location.

Now that construction has begun on the hotel site, nearby mon-and-pop businesses are being hurt by reduced foot traffic and lack of parking spaces. donald Hannah, who manages Bonne Sante Health Foods, said store sales have declined by 25 percent. "We keep hearing the same story: It's gonna be great when its's done in 2013," Hannah said. "But we have to go at least a year and a half of people not parking and our business suffers. We're struggling to stay here so that we can reap the benefits."

Being located close to the project is expected to attract shoppers. However, some businesses are worried that any success at one end o the strip may diminish shopping further down the street. Business owners also fear that if the project is successful, it may cause building owners along he street to substantially raise rents. "There is not a set formula, but wouldn't shock me if rents went up in the immediate area next to the project up to 20 percent," said David Metrick [sp.?], a senior managing director at Studley, a commercial real estate firm. Metric [sp.?] said rental in the new project could be in the upper $20s to mid-30's per square foot depending on the size of the space and the financing of the project. If rents go up significantly, some local shops may be forced to leave. That worries people like Meghan Martin, 28, who works for a small business on the strip. While she is happy trendy boutiques are moving in, she also worries bout her own job security and how the incoming businesses will change the feel of the neighborhood. "It's going to feel like up north no," she said.

The latest renewal comes a half-century after the university unveiled a plan to try to prevent Hyde Park's decline after poor black families began moving in, according to the book "American Pharaoh" about the late Mayor Richard J. Daley. Under the plan, about 20 percent of the area's building between East 47th and 59th street were demolished and replaced with housing or open space. The gentrification displaced many businesses along East 55th and 51st streets. As a result, East 53rd a two-lane street with no alleys and not enough parking, became the neighborhood's default shopping strip. "That was a shortsightedness or lack of city planning on the side of urban renewal planners," said Stephanie Franklin, a long time resident involve in several attempts to rebuild the business corridor.

Unlike past projects, however, the latest seems to have gotten traction largely because of the partnership between the city and the university, but also because suburban sprawl has stalled. Christopher Dillion, a partner with harper Court Partners, the project's developer, said he is talking with a number of local as well as national retailers who seem open to moving to the community. He declined to provide names. "When the economy was better, most retailers were focused in greenfield sites in the suburbs and now that the housing market is nonexistent -- retailers are looking for built-in population," Dillion said, adding that Hyde Park offers just that.

Hyde Park 53rd Street TIF Projects [ignoring City Hyde Park and those that haven't gotten beyond issuance of RFQ]

Harper Court, Akira (Borders Bldg.), The New 400 Theaters (Harper Theater building), Five Guys Burger and fries, Clarke's
Harper Court features: 1.1 million square feet of mixed use space, 12-story office tower with retail shops and parking, Hyatt Place Hotel, Up to 425 residential units.

Household expenditures within 1 mile of 53rd and Lake Park: food/beverage $181 million, entertainment $66.2, Apparel $57.7.

June 24, 2010 The TIF planning subcommittee met in open session and recommended TIF funding of $86,000 for an engineering study and drawings on opening Harper from E. Hyde Park to 53rd. This was recommended for a TIF vote July 12 (it was approved) for its own sake as well as to jump start Harper Court project. The study was said to require considerable time, was independent of a likely later request to fund the project at $1.3 million, and is independent of the full traffic impact study the HCt. developer will have to do. Both studies will go beyond Harper to questions of turns and lights on 53rd and on E. Hyde Park, and the long-usurped alley between Harper and Blackstone. About incl. HPKCC letter. The full TIF approved the $87,000 July 12.

The last "old" business in Harper Court, Calypso Restaurant, has accepted Harper Court Partners' buyout offer and will close June 5, just ahead of start of work on Harper Court redevelopment.
Calypso closing June 5, 2011. Herald, April 13, 2011. by Sam Cholke

Calypso Cafe, the last business operating in the Harper Court shopping center, announced last week that it would close in June. Owner Carol Andresen was unavailable for comment, but office manger Mark Miller confirmed the Caribbean restaurant would close June 5, a year before its lease expires in June 2012. Miller said the 5211 S. Harper ave. restaurant, which has also bee home to the Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop since the neighboring building was demolished, would not relocate and would close permanently. He said the Dixie Kitchen restaurants in Lansing and Evanston would remain open and the Hyde Park location was not closing because of financial difficulties.

"Business is fine and all that--- there's just an offer on the table," Miller said. He said the restaurant and the developer for the property, Harper Court Partners, quickly reached an agreement on April 1 to close. ... In an email, he said, "I can confirm that Calypso Cafe is planning to close later this spring. From a timing perspective, the closure coincides with teh beginning of construction on the Harper Court project." The University of Chicago purchased the property in 2008 and has repeatedly tried to convince Calypso to move. Negotiations stalled in 2009, and Andresen told the Herald at the time that the university was unwilling to pay for what she considered reasonable moving costs and it would only help if she agreed to relocate to another Hyde Park location.

Harper Court Partners were hired by the university in February 2010 to develop the property and Steve Kloehn, a spokesman for the university, said they agreed the developer would take over negotiations with Calypso. "Both the university and Harper Court Partners want to see the redevelopment move as quickly as possible, Kloehn said. "So we agreed collaboratively that the Harper Court Partners would speak directly with the owners of the restaurant. Kloehn said he did not know what offer had been extended to the restaurant.

From the Grey City (Chicago Maroon) November 29, 2011. University Development
Positively 53rd Street. [or, South Side redevelopment U of C style. For even wider perspective, see continuation in Hyde Park Profile page.]

By Jordan Larson

The new Harper Court opened to a modes crowd with a ground-breaking ceremony on November 16. A large podium and banners stood in front of a vast lot of dirt indicating that construction had just begun. Most of those in attendance were involved with the project in some way. U of C) President Robert Zimmer, alderman Will Burns, and others spoke to commemorate the groundbreaking and the future of Hyde Park Retail. The the Kenwood Academy band began to play and everyone rushed into Park 52 for free hors d'oeuvres and heat. The official opening was officially over.

Though Harper Court is the main attraction, it's only a part of a multi-million dollar redevelopment project extending down 53rd street all the way to Lake Park. The project is a collaboration between the University and the city of Chicago, with funding coming from both. While much attention has been paid to community feedback, some Hyde Parkers see the redevelopment as a worrying departure from the old Hyde Park. According to University spokesman Steve Kloehn, the decision to redevelop Harper Court was largely about attracting and retaining top faculty and staff members. "Drawing people in and keeping them is a top, top priority," he said.

However, community and student input also played a part in shaping the development plans. The years 2007 and 2008 were largely spent gathering survey information form students, residents, and faculty regarding what to bring to Hyde Park. There were market studies, email surveys, focus groups to begin assessing the situation, and groups of students were brought to 53rd street with administrators to figure out "what it was about this street that they didn't like," according to the University's associate vice president of civic engagement, Susan Campbell.

Workshops were presented by the Alderman's office, the University, an the South East Chicago Commission-- a [University and] private committee founded in 1952 to combat crime [and housing and commercial deterioration] in the neighborhood, but which now focuses on development [--as well as as numerous community organizations, some of which go back before SECC.]

"We've been hearing increasingly and consistently from faculty, students, and staff about the lack of available retail choices in Hyde Park, and how they had to leave the neighborhood to just satisfy basic shopping needs other than grocery and food," Campbell said. The businesses slated to move into the 1.1 million square foot Harper Court and the surrounding area include a movie theater, LA Fitness, a Hyatt Place hotel (the community's number one request), and Whole Foods.

Many of the so-called necessities listed in the proposal are geared towards adults with families, with the benefits trickling down to students. A promotional pamphlet for the new Harper Court lists "a good manicure," "an artisanal beer," and "a wine bar" as "basic city life essentials," and goes on to say that all these things can only be found at least six miles away.

The [overall] development's first project seen to completion was Five Guys, which opened over Labor dAy [2011]. The burger joint has already garnered a cult following with its flashy soda machine, spotless interior, and attainable fast food. Despite the instant popularity of Five Guys, many have decried its unoriginality and unfair advantage over smaller, locally-based businesses. Small-business owner and lifelong Hyde Park resident Daniel Friedman remarked on the decision to bring in a chain restaurant "Five Guys are everywhere," he said. "We don't need that."

But Campbell and others affiliated with the University remain optimistic. She believes that there is room for shiny new chain stores and older locally-owned businesses. "I know that the community and student have expressed a need and a desire to have more local entrepreneur, home-grown, organic businesses there. But I think for the street to be successful you need to have a mix," Campbell said. "You need the nationals for instant credibility and name recognition, but hopefully that will not dominate the retail scene and that can be peppered or even mixed successfully with local businesses.

While the jointly-owned Calypso Cafe and Dixie Kitchen, former Hyde Park staples, chose to close rather than occupy spaces in the redeveloped Harper Court, several small businesses have opened up on 53rd street during the past year, such as Z-Berry, Cafe 53, and Big Girl Makeup Bar & Spa. And the businesses have thrived despite construction complications, which range from construction workers taking up parking spots to reduced traffic to the area.

Campbell believes existing businesses in the area have benefited, as well. "I think it's hard to measure and quantify exactly what that benefit has been, whether it's been an increase in sales or an increase in awareness," she said. "It's an increase in awareness. And so they don't see that translate directly into their cashiers' box, but I do think over time it will."

The influx of big business isn't the only thing worrying neighborhood residents, though. Hyde Park has always been a very diverse neighborhood, but some fear that will change with this new development project. The involvement of the South East Chicago Commission is troublesome for Jesse Sinaiko, a business owner and son of the late University Professor Herman Sinaiko. He remembers the SECC as a committee targeted not toward safety but towards "social engineering and raising the income level" during the '50s when African-Americans began moving into the neighborhood. Some are afraid to see stores like Whole Foods as another step in this process.

There is a lot to be said for the dazzling glass structure that is to be Harper Court. With Phase I of the project expected to open fully in summer 2013, development still has a long way to go. However there have been a few small victories for students, like a 24-hour diner and a commercial movies theater takes minute--not an hour--to get to.

It's still hard to say if Hyde Park will ever have a truly college neighborhood, one that, like other campuses seems to blend the needs of students and community members into one organic space. What's even more difficult to determine is who, outside of University student and faculty, will eventually shop and live in Hyde Park? Are the new retail options with 53rd street development signaling a new Hyde Parker?

"We are seeing a slow change in momentum," Campbell said. "I think what our office has been really successful in is really helping the community understand what the challenges are, what kind of thing that they can do to combat those challenges, and it's going to take time. It's going to take a long time.


From the January 10 2011 TIF meeting (much of this turned out to be hyperbole)

Reports from the January 10, 1011 Hyde Park Herald

Harper Court hitting stride. By Sam Cholke

Financing is nearly secured for the major redevelopment of the Harper Court Shopping Center. The developers said they would be back in the neighborhood in the next two months to show updated building designs. "We're checking off milestones," said Dave Cocagne, president and CEO of Vermilion Development, the lead partner for the new office and retail complex.

Cogagne said a bank has agreed to to term sheet to finance the $114 million project. he said a hotel operator for the project would be announced in February. He said leases for 60 percent of the retail spaces are being finalized, but declined to name any tenants. "We're looking forward to getting a shovel in the ground by the end of the year," Cocagne said.


Late 2010:

Harper plans were approved by city committees and commissions in September (Community Development), and are expected to complete the Plan Commission Oct. 21. In answer to concerns at the Sept. 13 TIF meeting about value of scheduled-for-later vetting's by the TIF and its planning committees in light of passage, Ald. Preckwinkle said the details are far from set in stone.

Design vetting's were held Sept. 20 (committee) and October 4. at the latter, a simplified presentation was followed by some questions. Emphasis was on impression and interaction with surroundings of the office-retail Lake Park bldg. and the Harper Court street, and materials.The company's LLC name is Harper Court Partners.

City Council next. Herald, Sam Cholke, November 3. "The project has been a frequent fixture a downtown development meetings, hitting about one a month in a headlong dash to finalize all city approvals before the end of the year. The developers, with the help of Ald Toni Preckwinkle (4th), are attempting to bet all loose ends tied up before the end of the year to meet the deadline for a federal program that reduces the interest payments on funds the developers will have to bond to build the development. But the developers have still not secured the private financing they need before breaking ground. "We're on track for an end for the year closing," said Chris Dillion, managing director for Vermilion Development. Dillion said they are in discussions with lenders, but nothing has yet been finalized.

"Four restaurants have signed on for the project and a fitness center and hotel operator will likely be finalized soon, according to Dillon. The developer is still interested in a gourmet grocer to fill 25,000 square fet of the development, but Dillion said reports that they were in discussions with Whole Foods were not accurate."

"Dillion said the development team will be back in December with revised architectural designs for the project and to announce a hotel operator."

October 4 2010 Harper Court Presentation: (from TIF council minutes). Renderings

Representatives from Harper Court Partners (Vermilion, Drexel group, JFJ) updated the community on where the project now stands from a retail perspective and promised periodic updates at TIF Council meetings.

Design updates:

Project schedule:


Hartshorne Plunkard. As in Curbed Chicago, which says this was shared by HP.

Hartshorne Plunkard.

Herald report on the Planning Committee open meeting, September 20, 2010, and Development Commission approval. Herald Sept. 22. By Sam Cholke

The developers for Harper Court, Vermilion Development, presented their first design ideas at the Hyde Park Art Center on Sept. 20.

"It will be more like a beacon or a lantern than a solid element," said Jonathan Boyer, an architect on the project from Farr Associates. He said they decided to work in glass and steel because "limestone would be too heavy and would seem to weight the building down."

Structurally, the East 53rd Street and South Lake Park Avenue corner of the building will rise as a three-tiered tower. The first floor will be retail and restaurants set back along wide sidewalks, banded above by a screen in warm, neutral tones that hides the parking deck behind.

Above the parking deck would be a terrace with two stories of set back glass windows for the fitness center. Rising above and hanging over the terrace is a steel and glass cube that would house the University of Chicago office space. The office space will be an homage to the neighboring Hyde Park Bank building, Boyer said. Through steel and glass, the building will pay respect to the bank building's proportions and rhythms. Boyer offered the Inland Steel Building at 30 W. Monroe St. as an example of the direction the architects are headed with the design.

The next iteration of the design will be presented to the 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing District Advisory Council meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave.

A city commission signed off on using $20 million from the tax district on Sept. 14 to pay for infrastructure improvements for the project. The Chicago [Community] Development Commission approved a $3.4 million rebate on the city-owned land the developers need to build the project. The city will sell the parking lot it owns on the project site for $1.

The only criticism the commission levied against the development before approving it was that vermilion has never completed a project of the massive scope and complexity of the Harper Court development. "To advance anything in this market is a golden moment, not just for Hyde Park, but for the mid-South Side, [Ald.] Preckwinkle said.

After the board's unanimous vote, the developers, city and university officials were elated. "This is a momentous occasion, Who has a camera?" Preckwinkle asked, before they all posed for a picture outside the City Council chambers.


OWL (Judy Roothaan) says the continuing meetings should be attended because input is sought by and should be given to the developer and:
"[the Sept. 20] meeting is especially relevant to OWL. Our members are deeply concerned about the loss of senior programs at the Neighborhood Club. But even if these programs are restored, there could be some senior events elsewhere. The idea has been broached that the 53rd/Lake Park development should provide spaces for community events and activities, and also for some organization offices. Combining commerce, community activities, apartments and offices in one location adds convenience and accessibility for all, and can be particularly helpful to seniors."


Vermilion Development and the University of Chicago said in mid June 2010 they are very close to signing an agreement on redevelopment of Harper Court. "We've reached agreement on major deal points," the Herald quotes David Cocagne of Vermillion. One element still being determined is hotel plan. Vermillion, UC and city presented to the TIF council July 12 substantially revised and more detailed plan and financials that will go the Planned Development process before or in the fall. Plans are already considerably altered from independent study. A key element is response to application (necessary by year's end) for a federal Recovery Zone designation, which would help on loan interest.
As the Herald reports June 23, [David] Cocagne said Vermilion would be back before the community in the coming months will finalized site plans, which show the layout of buildings on the property, but not specific architectural elements. "I'm looking forward to feedback from the community on the refinements" to the site plan, Cogagne said. He anticipated beginning the legislative process for the development in August or September.

Meanwhile, the TIF planning subcommittee met June 14 (6:30 at Hyde Park Art Center) to consider funding a traffic study on reopening Harper Avenue and of Harper between E. Hyde Park Blvd. and 53rd Street. Since one of the highest concerns among residents and nearby businesses is effect on traffic and congestion, people wonder at what stage should a full traffic study be done that includes 53rd St. and Lake Park Ave.? HPKCC supported the study and call attention to need for a more complete study when appropriate. ( About incl. HPKCC letter) The TIF Council approved this $87,000 July 12.

The Weekly News of May 27 2010 raised two questions or concerns about the development-- one is general: the University and developers (David Cocagne) talk at once of the project being "very transformative" and "celebrating all that is Hyde Park"-- what do each of these these mean and can you have both and with each being really evident. The more specific is affordability and housing. Housing has been relegated to the second-phase of the development (likely a condo high rise and lower-rise rental over retail). The housing component may be creating a drag of uncertainty on funding even for phase I beyond the general economic recession and financial volatility. The Weekly News quotes Susan Campbell of UC Civic Engagement that it's "hard to find funding to build housing, let alone mixed-income housing." Weekly News suggests that even with an expected percentage "affordable" set aside, only a subset of Hyde Parkers could afford the likely housing and beyond that suggests that that if the market does not turn around the housing may not be built at all because any affordable and mixed requirement would kill it.

The News and others also wondered whether the retail redevelopment will endanger the viability of current businesses. Campbell told them that the University will be working through SECC and the Chamber to make sure there is room for local businesses (in Harper Court as well as on 53rd?) to create an overall vibrant corridor with "retail that appeals to everyone" and "is always trying to help [local] businesses. (Their involvement in 4th on 53rd was asserted to be to "highlight businesses that have stayed in Hyde Park.") Cited on the other hand was Bart Schultz of UC Civic Knowledge who worried that local business would indeed suffer if chains move in.

With regard to the degree and kind of "transformative" effect of Harper Court redevelopment might have, the News cited Schultz: Will redevelopment reinforce or work against aspects that set aside Hyde Park, such as walkability, and a strong component of amenities important to our distinctiveness such as bookstores and arts-artisan serving shops. Inclusion of public art projects and suggested return of chess were pluses, said Schultz. (Mentioned separately was keeping Farmers' Market.) Schultz especially worried about whether such components as a hotel would work against walkability and traffic manageability. In any case, he said, it's critical that the conversations and inputs continue as the project, "a constant process," inevitably changes. "When a community gets into something like this, "the discussion is just barely starting to get along."

Jay Ammerman, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference President, is cited in the Weekly News article as having arrived over several years from worry over whether to change Harper Court, especially from being a community-run commercial center, and then over the University's taking it over into a compromise for redevelopment: "Over the course of several years, we came to the conclusion that a change was necessary. I don't think we have an argument about where this is headed." But, Ammerman is paraphrased, HPKCC "as an organization working on behalf of the community, would continue to critique University involvement so that community concerns would be heard."

From TIF Planning committee report on March 1, vetting of plan to the March 8 TIF general meeting:

Planning and Development Committee Update, Chuck Thurow, Chair

The committee met on 3/1. Topics discussed: TIF funding, pedestrian circulation, Farmer's Market Survival, rentals, density, retail and traffic as it relates to 52nd and 53rd street. The project timing will be in two phases - retail will be included in the first phase, with residential in the second as market conditions permit. The staging of interim parking while the old parking lot is under construction is an open issue. Neighbors along 52nd Street west of Harper have no alley, currently using the parking right-of-way to access behind their homes. This is an open issue. The next steps Vermilion is currently working on are architectural design and materials. Audience comment and questions include (1). Donating Harper materials to Canter Middle School, (2). The need to follow progress of the project and processes, (3). A start date for construction, and, (4). The need for coordination of current projects as to not disrupt current business activity on 53rd .

From the May 10 2010 TIF meeting re funding traffic study on reopening Harper Ave.

Herald May 12, 2010, by Sam Cholke:

... The Planning and Development Committee of the advisory council has been tasked with considering the first use of TIF funds on the redevelopment of the Village Shopping Center and the Harper Court Shopping Center. The committee will discuss commissioning an engineering study of opening Harper Avenue between East Hyde Park Boulevard and East 53rd street. The Chicago Department of Transportation would conduct the study for $86,594. "This is the beginning of the process of getting developers to the table to say where they're going to put things," Males said. The committee meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. June 14 at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. "This will be our first use of TIF funds for this project, and it's pretty straightforward," said Chuck Thurow, chair of the committee.

Though there are currently no immediate plans to start work or to open the street, Males said the study would be a signal to developers that both the council and the public is invested in the redevelopment of the Village Shopping center and the Harper Court Shopping Center going through.


The TIF planning subcommittee met in open session June 24 2010 and recommended TIF funding of $86,000 for an engineering study and drawings on opening Harper from E. Hyde Park to 53rd. This was recommended for a TIF vote July 12 for its own sake as well as to jump start Harper Court project. The study was said to require considerable time, was independent of a likely later request to fund the project at $1.3 million, and is independent of the full traffic impact study the HCt. developer will have to do. Both studies will go beyond Harper to questions of turns and lights on 53rd and on E. Hyde Park, and the long-usurped alley between Harper and Blackstone.
At the July 12 meeting, the TIF approved $87,000.

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

Herald June 13 2010. TIF council looks to reopen Harper Avenue. By Sam Cholke

An $86,000 study on reopening Harper Avenue to through-traffic was approved June 14 by the Planning and Development committee of the 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing District Advisory Council. The study wil go to the full council for approval in July.

"Everyone agrees that Harper should be opened back up," said Chuck Thurow, chair of the committee. Reopening South Harper Avenue between 52nd Street and 53rd street has been suggested for the redevelopment of Harper Court Shopping Center, and would also serve the redevelopment of the Village Shopping Center on East Hyde Park Boulevard and Lake Park Avenue. "What we're trying to do is kick-start the process," Thurow said.

The study, which is expected to take several months, would provide the council with specific plans for how to reopen the street whether the neighboring developments happen or not. "You can actually take this and go out and bid it out to contractors," Thurow said.

This is more than a traffic study, which both developments will also be required to do, according to James Wilson, a coordinating planner for the city's Department of Community Development. "We haven't quite had the discussion about [Harper Avenue} in the department," wilson said. "It gives the city the go-ahead to start the planning of this."

Developers for the Harper Court redevelopment said it would be beneficial to their planning process. "I think that's a positive development," said Dave Cogagne, president of Vermilion Development, which has been contracted by the University of Chicago and the city to redevelop Harper Court and the adjoining city-owned parking lot. "It's an important piece of the process and a good used of the dollars."

In related news, Cocagne said Vermillion would be back before the community in the coming months will finalized site plans, which show the layout of buildings on the property, but not specific architectural elements. "I'm looking forward to feedback from the community on the refinements" to the site plan, Cogagne said. He anticipated beginning the legislative process for the development in August or September.


Hans Morsbach again argued in a Herald letter that there is not enough demographic support or draw for increase in retail space in Harper Court or elsewhere in Hyde Park.


July 2010

Vermilion asks July 12 TIF meeting for $23.4 M (one fifth of Phase I $114 M cost). This is apart from the cost of putting Harper Ave. through. More financials were spelled out at subcommittee hearing July 19, Council expected to vote on July 26, other meetings scheduled.
See Developer's July 12 presentation in pdf at http://www.hpherald.com. Paraphrased in our Vermilion July 12 2010. (More on that TIF meeting in TIF Advisory Council Meetings.

Here: Herald report July 14, Herald report July 21- project pays back tax funds, Herald editorial July 21-making progress at Harper Court, Chamber of Commerce letter of support July 21, HPKCC President Jay Ammerman's letter of questions July 21,

Herald report July 14 by Sam Cholke

The developers of Harper court asked for $23.4 million from the 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District Advisory Council on July 12 to fund the $114 million first phase of the redevelopment."When the TIF was created it was known that public funds would be necessary for projects such as these," said Dave Cocagne, president of Vermilion. "This falls within the city norms - in fact a little lower."

TIFs can fund up to 25 percent of private development. "The private sector by itself cannot do this alone," Cocagne said. "it's still very difficult to obtain funding for these type of projects." The full $23.4 million would not come out of the TIF coffer right away, which is currently expected to end the yer holding $2.4 million, according to documents from the city's Department of Community Development. The boost in property tax income the development would create would pay for about $15 million of what the developer is asking for, according to Courtney Pogue, a consultant from The Waterworks Group hired by Vermillion.

Tax increment financing districts work by capping the property taxes going into the city's general fund for 23 years from a specific area. if that area's property tax base grows and creates new revenue, that new money is diverted into the TIF fund to be used for development specifically within the district.

Pogue will provide exactly how much and when funds would come out of the TIF coffers at teh council's Planning and Development committee, which will meet at 6;30 p.m. July 19 at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave.

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) supports spending the money on the project and said all planning for teh project needs to be completed before 2011 to take advantage of tax breaks the developer was awarded from the federal stimulus package, which are off the table at the end of the year. "The principle driving impulse is the federal funding source," Preckwinkle said. She encouraged the community to sign off on the project that is expected to generate close to $5 million yearly for the TIF, which currently collects about $745,000 a year.

The developer will be back before a special meeting of the TIF advisory council at 7. p.m. July 26 at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave. Preckwinkle said she expected the council to vote on the expenditure of TIF money at that meeting. Council members said they did not expect to vote on the money at that meeting. ...

Vermilion presented some changes to the site plan at the council meeting. The project now calls for a parking garage below ground that enters off of East 52nd Street. a second parking garage wil still be available off of South Lake Park Avenue. The developers are expecting 15-25 retailers in the first phase of the development, thought they have now ruled out a movie theater.

Vermilion will also be presenting its plans for the redevelopment of Harper Court at the meeting of the Coalition for Equitable Community Development at 7 p.m. July 20 at Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave. The developers will also be at the next meeting of the North Kenwood Oakland Community Conservation Council at 6;30 p.m. Aug,. 5 at the Kennicott Park field house, 4434 S. Lake Park Ave. The developers were scheduled to meet with the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce July 13.


Hyde Park Herald July 21 2010. Harper Court developer: Project pays back tax funds. By Sam Cholke

Developers spelled out this week exactly how the 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing District would fund $23.4 million of the $114 million Harper Court redevelopment when the TIF coffers are projected to hold less than $3.5 million at the end of the year.

The project "pays back what it's getting in public spending," said Dave Cocagne, president fo Vermillion, the land developer on the Harper Court redevelopment. Cocagne presented a timeline July 19 to the TIF advisory council's Planning and Development Committee that showed the project nipping roughly $2 million out of the districts' tax revenue every year until the project is online. That initial $2 million infusion into the project will reduce the TIF's coffers to $500,000 by the end of the year.

The district will collect enough in taxes each year to continue funding its current projects, like the Small Business Improvement Fund and the CleanSlate program. Most of the tax revenue above and beyond those projects will go towards incrementally funding Harper Court. About $500,000 will be kept in the TIF's reserves each year, according to Cocagne's estimates.

Tax increment financing districts work by capping the property taxes going into the city's general fund for 23 years from a specific area. If that areas' tax base grow and creates additional property tax revenue, that new money is diverted into the TIF fund to be used for development specifically within the district.

When the first phase of the new Harper Court opens in 2014, nearly all of the new property tax revenue it generates will go directly into the TIF fund. The developers are projecting Harper Court to pour $2.1 million into the TIF the first year it opens.

"We've finally gotten to the point where we have a huge project to provide funds to do other things," said Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th). "I strongly support this project -- I think it's what we've been waiting for for a decade."

Not all the new tax revenue generated by Harper Court will be available right away. The tax revenue the development puts into the TIF will largely come right back out each year to continue funding the project. Roughly two-thirds of the development's TIF funding would end up being paid for by the increased tax revenue the property generates. The estimates provided this week show the TIF funding all the projects it funds today and also building up a nest egg of $2.8 million by 2025, when the TIF expires.

"It's a very conservative estimate and it assumes nothing else happens on 53rd Street in the next 15 years," Preckwinkle said. Antheus Capital has proposed a redevelopment of the Village Shopping Center at the corner of South Lake Park Avenue adn East Hyde Park Boulevard that is also in the TIF district but wouldn't require any of the TIF's money.

Asked if the large commitment of future TIF revenue would hamper the district's ability to fund other projects, like the reopening of Harper Avenue between 52nd and 53r streets, Preckwinkle said, "We'll have to see. "We'll have to use public resources of one type or another to do it," Preckwinkle said, adding that it would probably be paid for out of the alderman's discretionary infrastructure fund.

The full body of the 53rd street TIF Advisory Council will met at 7 p.m. July 26 at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., for a final vote on committing funds to the project. The developers said they anticipate beginning the legislative process with the city in September and finishing in November.

Vermilion's site plan presentation to the TIF advisory council from July 12 is available as a PDF on the Hyde Park Herald's Web site at hpherald.com.

Reflections on July 12 and after July 19

Herald editorial July 21, 2010. Making Progress at Harper Court

David Cocagne, head of Vermilion Development, is telling anyone who's interested about his plans for Harper Court. In the past week, Cocagne has run a lightning round in the neighborhood, presenting to everyone from the 53rd street TIF Advisory Council to the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce to teh Coalition for Equitable Community Development. He has put together what he considers to be a viable plan, and he wants to persuade the neighborhood as swiftly as he can.

We are often on this page counseling in favor of careful public deliberation -- too often plans that significantly impact Hyde Park are hatched behind closed doors and presented as a done deal. Indeed, much of the planning process for Harper Court has paid mere lip service to the principle of open, transparent decision making. Is Cocagne continuing down that path?

We don't think so. A key funding source for Harper Court redevelopment is set to expire at the end of the year, and all of the planning for the project must be completed in order to secure those dollars. We are at a point in the process where we must take stock of what our broad goals for Harper Court are.

In our view, Cocagne's pans are well though out and reflect a set of practical and appropriately aspirational priorities. REtail development comes first, followed by residential and other use, potentially including a hotel -- something many Hyde Parkers have long said is badly needed in the neighborhood. We agree, but we also think this is the right order of development at the location. Build up the retail on and around 53rd street, then increase residential density -- which can only gird the businesses -- then add whatever other amenities are feasible.

What we are not saying is that the time for questioning the development is over. Indeed, Cocagne is making himself available to just about any group who is curious about his plans. (So far, no requests from teh Boy Scouts.) We should take advantage of his generosity and get as thorough an understanding of his ideas as possible. In fact, this week's paper includes a letter from the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference with a number of questions about the development. we look forward to hearing Cocagne's responses.

Among the most important is how funding for Vermilion affects other priorities in the district. Simply put, without some sort of development that increases the value of teh TIF, we will not see any substantial priorities realized. That will not happen in this case without using every revenue source that has been identified. Our TIF will remain a glorified street cleaning program otherwise.... We also want the addition for CAnter that was promised and other big benefits to accrue for the district.

We have heard a lot of big plans for the 53rt Street TIF District, and we've seen little in the way of development. This could be the domino that gets the significant change we have been promised underway. Meanwhile, its chances for being realized diminish significantly in just a few months' time.

Ultimately, we believe now is the time to get this redevelopment going. The closure of Harper Court was a tremendous sacrifice, and even this accelerated timetable does not return retail to the location for years. Let's get whatever questions we have out in the open - and answered - and proceed.

Chamber of Commerce letter of support in July 21 2010 Herald. "Why we're backing Vermilion"

The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors met July 13 with Vermilion Development, the corporation the won the Harper Court redevelopment bid, to review their plans. What we saw was a cogent, yet ambitious plan that we are convinced will be the start to a revitalization of the core of our neighborhood's main retail artery. We were impressed both by the thoughtfulness of the presenters an their passion for developing this project which is so important to the future of Hyde Park.

Here are some of the details of the project, expected to break ground in late 2011. First, the initial phase of the project wil add 15 to 25 retail businesses to Hyde Park. Those businesses will include restaurants and could include everything from retail clothing to a comedy club. Altogether, that component of th project amounts to more than 100,000 square feet of new retail in Hyde Park. Just imagine what that type of increased shopping opportunity will do in terms of drawing customers to Hyde Park as a shopping destination and how that will impact existing businesses sales opportunities.

The project ffects Hyde Park's economy in many other ways as well. The construction of the project will create roughly 500 temporary jobs and between 425 and 525 permanent jobs. Additionally, after phase one, the project will include residential units as well, adding another positive economic outcome that will certainly boost the bottom line of businesses up and down 53rd Street adn throughout Hyde Park.

This is a banner moment for Hyde Park's business community, but it is also a critical juncture. Part of the funding mix for this project , with an estimated total cost of $114 million, is stimulus dollars, which require all planning for the project to be completed by this year. As we all know, community support -- or lack thereof -- can make or break a project winding its way through City Hall. Hyde Park needs to speak loudly and with one voice in support of this project, and the neighborhood's business community should lead the way.

When it all comes together, Harper Court will offer much more. These features will support and fuel one another. This can be a place hat brings together neighbors, visitors from other parts of the city, and people from around the world; a place that is part business, part pleasure and always active. The mix of uses has the potential to take what we love about Hyde Park and add to it what we wish for, solidifying the future of our community.

Vermilion Development has put together an exceptional project that will bring jobs, businesses and a much-needed increase in residential density to 53rd Street and to Hyde Park. The Chamber is committed to driving a vocal and united show of support among Hyde Park businesses for this outstanding development. We hope the rest of our neighbors wil se the importance of this proposal and get behind Vermilion's vision for a revitalized Hyde Park.

Susan J. Walker, President, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce Board

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:


From the July 19 and 20 2010 presentations and Q and As.

Complete report July 19

Hyde Park Herald July 21 2010 report on the July 19 meeting of the TIF Planning Committee. Harper Court developer: Project pays back tax funds. By Sam Cholke

Developers spelled out this week exactly how the 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing District would fund $23.4 million of the $114 million Harper Court redevelopment when the TIF coffers are projected to hold less than $3.5 million at the end of the year.

The project "pays back what it's getting in public spending," said Dave Cocagne, president fo Vermillion, the land developer on the Harper Court redevelopment. Cocagne presented a timeline July 19 to the TIF advisory council's Planning and Development Committee that showed the project nipping roughly $2 million out of the districts' tax revenue every year until the project is online. That initial $2 million infusion into the project will reduce the TIF's coffers to $500,000 by the end of the year.

The district will collect enough in taxes each year to continue funding its current projects, like the Small Business Improvement Fund and the CleanSlate program. Most of the tax revenue above and beyond those projects will go towards incrementally funding Harper Court. About $500,000 will be kept in the TIF's reserves each year, according to Cocagne's estimates.

Tax increment financing districts work by capping the property taxes going into the city's general fund for 23 years from a specific area. If that areas' tax base grow and creates additional property tax revenue, that new money is diverted into the TIF fund to be used for development specifically within the district.

When the first phase of the new Harper Court opens in 2014, nearly all of the new property tax revenue it generates will go directly into the TIF fund. The developers are projecting Harper Court to pour $2.1 million into the TIF the first year it opens.

"We've finally gotten to the point where we have a huge project to provide funds to do other things," said Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th). "I strongly support this project -- I think it's what we've been waiting for for a decade."

Not all the new tax revenue generated by Harper Court will be available right away. The tax revenue the development puts into the TIF will largely come right back out each year to continue funding the project. Roughly two-thirds of the development's TIF funding would end up being paid for by the increased tax revenue the property generates. The estimates provided this week show the TIF funding all the projects it funds today and also building up a nest egg of $2.8 million by 2025, when the TIF expires.

"It's a very conservative estimate and it assumes nothing else happens on 53rd Street in the next 15 years," Preckwinkle said. Antheus Capital has proposed a redevelopment of the Village Shopping Center at the corner of South Lake Park Avenue adn East Hyde Park Boulevard that is also in the TIF district but wouldn't require any of the TIF's money.

Asked if the large commitment of future TIF revenue would hamper the district's ability to fund other projects, like the reopening of Harper Avenue between 52nd and 53r streets, Preckwinkle said, "We'll have to see. "We'll have to use public resources of one type or another to do it," Preckwinkle said, adding that it would probably be paid for out of the alderman's discretionary infrastructure fund.

The full body of the 53rd street TIF Advisory Council will met at 7 p.m. July 26 at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., for a final vote on committing funds to the project. The developers said they anticipate beginning the legislative process with the city in September and finishing in November.

Vermilion's site plan presentation to the TIF advisory council from July 12 is available as a PDF on the Hyde Park Herald's Web site at hpherald.com.

Report on the July 19, 2010 presentation by the developer and Q and A. By Gary Ossewaarde, HPKCC Dev. Committee Chair

Chuck Thurow's 53rd TIF planning and development subcommittee met Monday, July 19, 7 pm at the Hyde Park Art Center. About 30 attended including about 6 from the full TIF advisory council. There was a presentation by Vermilion that was in parts abbreviated and in others expanded from that of July 12. Extensive questions were asked at the end of the part on the site and development plans themselves and again at the end of the report on financing. It is this reporter's view that both appeared more cohesive and feasible from the presentation and discussion. Several persons including Alderman Preckwinkle said strongly that this proposal is absolutely essential and transformative, entails few dangers, and has to have backing now. No vote or recommendation was taken, presumably Thurow will tell the closed council meeting and the July 26 public meeting where the council will vote that the subcommittee recommended.

Dave Cocagne and Chris ___ of Vermilion went into more full detail of the plan, component by component. (See description in the July 12 presentation page.) Most but not all agreed with placing the mass and height and large retail loading on Lake Park (one person said the hotel is livelier and a better fit with Lake Park and adjacent transit.) Lessening of parking access from Lake Park was considered favorably, although with some concern about parking traffic that will now be on 52nd Street.

Concern was expressed about making provision for Park 52 and Checkerboard. Vermilion would defer to their wishes for incorporation, relocation, or to stay where they are. Asks were made to include more non-shopping options and venues including indoor places for meetings and events, and to make the gateway corner a public meeting place to get inter alia newspapers.

Questions were asked about the office building and the UC's relationship to it. The University spokespersons said they are not committed to leasing all the building and will look at subleasing. They will not own the building, which will pay taxes (since it's not an academic use). (Vermilion said that while it has an obligation to challenge assessments that were way out of line should that occur, its real interest is in taxes enabling the TIF to pay its obligated share. Any component not paying would threaten that and throw the development out of balance.

The developer is committed to making each phase look complete. Phase II could be done in separate parts. Likely the condo building would be last.

Condo building would share the parking access of the office building off Lake Park at the north end of the site. The office pedestrian access is planned for its west side at the new Harper Court street.

All of phase I will open about the same time, which means the hotel will start later.

The finances. Alderman Preckwinkle had mandated the developer to bring specifics on finances to this meeting, and they did.

First, they stressed that their ability to ask 20.5% rather than a full allowable 25% from the TIF brings big advantages to both the TIF and the project. The TIF's share will leverage 4 private dollars to every 1 public dollar rather 3 private to 1 public.

Two-thirds of the $23.4 million commitment ($15.67 million) is generated from the project itself in the form of tax increment- [$5 million a year from 2014 through 2025 is the total in new taxes or 50 million, from which after $12.5 million (2 = 750,000 x 14 years) is subtracted from the total asked leaves $12.4 to be paid from the increment and about $37.5 total in unencumbered increment spread over 11 years or $3.4 million averaged. It does end up that the $23.4 is "paid back" into the TIF by about three years after the project opens.]

The rest comes from the initial $2 million this year and $750,000 each year through the rest of the TIF.

The numbers as given assuming no further development in the whole TIF:

$2 million this year from existing TIF balance (goal is to keep not less than a half million in the TIF till for spending plus cushion in any one year)

$6.6 total coming into the TIF (about $800,000 + 2%) over its life if no development [note- not sure why not $12+ since .8 x 15= 12]

$14.8 -amount the annual payout from the TIF becomes for 2014 through the life of the TIF

$2.64 + $830,000 = $3.47 would be in the TIF in early 2011
$2 comes out at end of 2010
$960,000 left in TIF (including for other spending, city) leaving about a half million.

$500,000 balance + $975,000 (increased due to reassessment) in taxes- $1.5 million
$750,000 goes out for Harper Court development leaving $900,000 or an increase of over $200,000

2012-13 similar modest increases in surplus

2014 Harper Court comes on line and is reassessed
$2.1 million its increment taxes + $962,000 in the regular tax increment = $3.68 million
$750,000 comes out for Harper Court = $2.93 in increment left before what goes to Harper, expenditures, and leaving about $600,000 balance in the TIF and about $2.5 going to the note if about $300,00 goes to other things.

2020 the balance after all comes out is $1.2 million

2025 (year of expiration)
$2.5 million is the fund balance.

$3.5 million goes to the project
If $322,000 is going to other things,
$2.8 million is the fund balance

Some questions: (Ald. Preckwinkle explained that large things like an addition to Canter would be paid off gradually - there would be a bond). And we would have the retail plus, parking, and jobs. And much increased tax revenue for the government bodies as well as the city general revenues. And this assumes no other development. On the other hand, Harper Avenue is not factored in- it isn't in the assembled property. Cost may well come from ward funds.

Land cost. The university will buy the parking lot from the city for $1. The land's value will be repaid much more in taxes later.

What if not enough taxes come back? The developer would have to cover. There are required ratios in the Redevelopment Agreement (RDA).

Canter addition? The TIF would help pay for city bonds, contributing an amount each year. The Alderman said CPS currently does not have a construction program.

Would assessments be contested by the developer-owner? While they would have an obligation to contest any out of line, it is their interest to have taxes coming into the TIF to pay off the bond.

What if there is construction lag? It would only push back the money into the TIF, not create a negative balance.

Interim parking has not yet been addressed. West of Harper Avenue is being considered.

Alderman Preckwinkle thanked the TIF and the team. She said the team will need to inform us of and when the various benchmarks come up and are met.

The team reiterated its commitment to meet as things come up, design is readied, and on workforce development, and to go through it all again when Phase II comes up.

Report on the July 20 community meeting called by Coalition for Equitable Community Development to hear from Vermilion

By Gary Ossewaarde, CECD Secretary

This meeting was held at Augustana Lutheran Church. About 30 attended, several of whom had heard little of the project.

A number of questions were taken down on poster board and run through later by the developer team. Next was the presentation (see July 12 Vermilion Presentation, also July 19 immediately above), interspersed with questions. More questions and comments were taken after.

The pre written questions, a good summary of community residents would like to know, or in some cases feared about, the project, included:

What's to enforce performance metrics?
Alternative transportation, green?
How is the ownership and conveyance handled?
Is the project really addressing 53rd Street and how will it improve 53rd St.? Can there be a place for the newsstand?
How will minority hiring and firms be addressed?
What will the price be per square foot?
Will Vermilion own the development?
Will the office building pay property tax?
What is the University being paid for Harper Court land?
The track record of bringing in good businesses and having them stay is poor-- who will this project's chances be made better? What's the merchandising plan?
Who decides which tenants get in? Who will recruit? Who determines the design of the businesses?
How will congestion be prevented/not worsened on 53rd Street? How will truck delivery be handled and kept off 53rd?
Will the buildings including the hotel cast shadows on surrounding houses and buildings?
The office looks like its design fits ill with the bank; won't it all be too flashy?
What will be the income TIF from the project over its life? What are the fallbacks if it's not enough?
What is the zoning category, what will be the assessment?

In the presentation, the team of 12 firms stressed deep experience in Chicago, including in workforce development, and in this kind of project and community--transformative university related projects that define a space and reinvigorate communities.
They also touted their cash position/EMB rating and ability to execute.

The project is to be community-focused, historically sensitive, actionable, destination-driven, and sustainable. (They are pursuing LEED certification and have firms expert at that.)
They will work for return types of firms the area once had or were even known for (in some cases firms that left)- apparel, hotel, entertainment, and to leverage the heft and cohesiveness into getting many tenants (lots are interested).

The interior space will serve both pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and needs both-- restaurants especially like that. At the same time it can serve public events like jazz, farmers market. And on the south end it bulls eyes onto the bank's arch.

They believe they have a good parking solution (100% increase for the public)- spread out, partially underground, and with two major access points and the parking is significantly increased. Elevator access from parking will help make the site accessible. Rates will be set to encourage use of it.

In answer to some skepticism, they said there is lots of interest in the fitness center. It will double as eyes on the street and interest those on the Metra. They believe this and the other tenants will bring people who will come and stay to do other things.

The hotel will have a separate developer-manager. There will be design guidelines. It will have ground floor retail oriented to Harper, which will eventually run as retail from 51st to 53rd. They haven't decided where the main entry to the hotel will be- likely interior as for the office building. It will be serviced from below.

On traffic- CDOT has the say. Major changes to Old Lake Park are one thing being looked at.
Access for trucks will not be on 53rd-- for most of the project it will be off 52nd or Lake Park at the north end.
They will do a traffic study including pedestrian [confirmed by this writer to have already started].

Phase II will add to the retail mix and bring in more residents to shop. The three structures could be done independently, likely retail then rental then condo. The west building would have 41 rental, the north 116 for a total of 157 and the condos 204. The west building will be 5 story, the north 6, the hotel 8-10 stories, the bank 12, and the condo tower 24 for a stepped effect.

Comments were made that there is not enough green space (street level?), even the 80 foot spaces in the interior are all in use even if, as said, permeable, and the green gardens above aren't for everyone.

Skepticism was expressed that the stores would rent or that the tendency of shoppers to go out of the neighborhood or not to come here will persist. The team insisted this project will be a game changer.

The retail environment will consist of 50,000 sp in the first phase plus 8,000 in the hotel; 12,000 in the apartment buildings for a total of 70,000. There will be common service corridors. Their thought goes beyond retail and create a unique place, especially for the interior. It could include a comedy club, bars, restaurant. Chicago based concepts are sought. Casual and fine. Asked about part of the interior sector being enclosed or arcaded, they said retailers don't like that.

Community space was also asked, and serious consideration for subleasing office space. And some asked whether any of it would be affordable for small/local businesses. Vermilion reiterated that the purpose is to bring in new businesses, and they know that rents can't be too high. The heft will help businesses on the outside of the project. Of course, they would talk to other businesses in Hyde Park who want to be in Harper Court. An object is to keep dollars in Hyde Park.

They expanded on concern to have a positive broader impact on and integration with 53rd Street. That includes making the theater complementary. University ideas for McMobil fits in with this also- retail below and grad. housing above. And they are considering ways to improve Hyde Park internal circulation and transit.

Discussed was hiring and firms issues.

The schedule will be 18 to 24 months of construction. Leasing is underway. Work starts in late 2011, some retail comes on line as soon as late 2012, the offices by spring-summer 2013.

They touted the higher public dollar leverage of the TIF investment (4:1) vs. other projects. 2/3 ($15.67 million) of the $23.4 million public investment comes from the project itself not current tax flow. And this means the $23.4 is paid back in TIF increment in the three years after the project opens. How it works is through an initial payment to the project of $2 million, then $750,000 base through the life of the TIF. $450,000* yearly additional in the post opening years (the project paying $2.1 in new taxes starting in 2014) goes back into the project leaving $200,000 plus as an annually increasing surplus from increment year by year. In the last year the surplus is $2.8 million if not spent. The surplus could be much more if other development is bringing in money.
[This number may have been heard wrong, or is what comes out of normal non-project increment annually) since there is about $11 million paid out to the project in the last 10 years to make up the difference between $2m + ($750,000 x 14) = $12.5m and the total of $23.4m the TIF pays into the project.]

Answers to some of the questions written down at the start.

How is the ownership handled? City lot is conveyed to the University for $1. At benchmarks, all is conveyed to Vermilion. The university remains a property tax paying tenant of the office building [and a partner in the controlling LLC].

City performance metrics. They will be in the public document passed by City Council. The metrics range from hiring, debt, and performance to accessibility and more.

Desire to have the newsstand and related amenities inside. They are also thinking in that direction.

Alternatives- they will almost certainly have I-Go and or Zipcars and are talking with them about partnering. This would help their quest for LEEDS, which in turn gives tax credits. Anything that enhances connectivity and accessibility counts.

The alley to the south during construction and after. They will improve it as well as maintain access to existing businesses. McHugh has lots of experience with tight spaces.

Avoiding tunnel effect. The office building will have features that break it up and there is a significant offset at the fitness center (with a sun deck terrace). The pedestrian access will be on the west facade, the new Harper Court.

How will retail choice be made? The Vision documents will have a large say. They will have to strike balances and it's not a science. They are determined it be a mix, create options within categories, and some be unique.

Landscaping. It will be ecological and sustainable.

What will the market be like for housing? Study shows a number have left Hyde Park or did not locate it here because there are certain kinds of housing in short supply or are missing or outpriced here. This is especially true of young professionals, empty nesters, grad students. Still, they want housing for a good cross section. And 20% has to be affordable.

How will you make the 53rd corner exciting? They are working on it.

Said - we want the materials and look contextual.

This writer later asked Vermilion principal David Cocagne some additional questions the writer thought had not been asked or sufficiently clarified.

By Gary Ossewaarde, HPKCC Development Chair. We thank Vermilion principal Dave Cocagne for graciously answering these questions.

When will agreements be signed? The main and governing agreement/documents will be signed with the city after the city approvals including City Council's. These will include the ordinance and a Redevelopment Agreement (RDA) and a Planned Unit Development agreement. Vermilion anticipates a separate agreement with the University of Chicago around fall 2010.

How will the ownership then devolve? The city sells the lot to UC for $1 which later conveys it to the partnership led by Vermilion. Phase I land will controlled by the latter under the the RDA. All the land will be governed by the Planned Development. All will be spun off to a LLC, which will be a partnership of Vermilion and U of C [proportions were not addressed but it will be related to Vermilion.] Development of some components such as the hotel will go to other firms. An overall management firm or firms will be hired under the LLC.

How will the TIF money and the financing work? They will back instruments. (In effect the developer lends upfront from financing.) TIF fund component use will have to be "reconciled" with the permitted uses of TIF funds.

How close to the margin is the TIF's budget? The cushion is quite large and unlikely to come close even in the early years. Should there be a problem, the responsibility would be the developer's.

What if TIF's are changed? The developer will have to conform, but it would be a rare situation if anything locked in by signing (the end of this year) would be impacted --the TIF and its income will be designated.

What about loss of a public asset, the parking lot? Its revenue-collecting capacity was already gone with the city's sale of parking revenues to LAZ. The city will get much more in taxes, in perpetuity, than it would have from selling or leasing the land at market value (currently very low because of its minimal land coverage and use and the lack of the planned surrounding development.)

How does the PUD work and affect zoning? The PUD (which exists and will be amended) will be a micro zone. What mainly changes is footage to area ratio (FAR). There will still be a lot of use limits in effect.

When will traffic and related studies start? They are underway now and will be finished in a couple weeks.

This space is reserved for additional questions not even asked publicly July 12, 19, 20. For some it may be early to be addressed, but they should be thought about. Submit yours at hpkcc@aol.com attn Gary.

The hotel. One of the contributors (of great concern to some if not to most) to the failure of the hotel proposal for Doctors Hospital on Stony Island was whether it would be nonunion and about other working conditions. In addition, do hotels or do they not create a special suite of congestion and other issues?

What exactly is it that determines what is paid from the project-contributed tax increment once the project has opened? 15 million (two-thirds is said to be generated from the project. Is this a steady amount from 2014 through 2025 or is it a rising scale? The number $450,000 above the annual $750,000 2011-2025 was given, but that would only be $5 million. If the non-project contribution is $2 m in 2010 plus ($750,000 x 14 years) that is $12.5 million, leaving c. $11 million (rather than $15 m) to be paid over 11 years. In either case that averages to between $1 million and $1.36 million a year. (See July 26 below for some clarification.)

What controls over retail selection and other matters will U of C retain vis a vis the spin off LLC that will own and oversee management of the development?

Traffic management and improvement and use of traffic study findings remain vexing.

Details, details, details: Minority inclusion, architecture, noise from special events in the internal streets, shadow effects....

July 26 2010 special TIF meeting. Re-presentation, Q & A, Council vote

Introduction from Chairman Males stresses that this request and project are way and beyond what the Council has ever considered before. The infrastructure and new streets alone call for enormous amounts of money.

Vermilion and team presenters went mainly over the relationship of the project to TIF objectives and the financials/economics including the challenges to doing such a project

What's asked is less than what could be. The limit to TIF eligibility would be 27 million; the city top threshold would be $28.5 million.
Two-thirds of total TIF contribution, $15 million of $23.4, comes from the project- actually in the form of tax rebate to the owner-- money the TIF doesn't see-- but that is not all that is generated ($15 million a year), with part of that being surplus going annually into the TIF after the project opens. The project cost is paid off in 3 years after opening based on increase in wages and other kinds of taxes generated.

Step by step. 2010 TIF as $2.64 million, Gets additional $831,000 in normal districtwide increment > $3.47 million. Of that, $2 million goes to Harper Court, $964,000 is left. Non-recurring TIF costs 750,000 to Harper, recurring $213,000; left in the till half a million (low point).

2011. .5 m + 925,000 (reassessed districtwide increment) > 1.4 million. - $750,000 out for Harper Court, $273,000 for all else > .5 balance. About the same 2012, 2013.

2014. Out to Harper so far $5m
Project comes on line. .5 balance + $2.1 from new property taxes > $2.6 m + about $1 m in normal increment > $3.68m. $750,000 goes to Harper, $233,000 to other > $1.733. $.6 is said to be balance, [so an additional $1.1 annually rising goes to Harper to end up at $23.4 by 2025? Since yearly average 2014-25 to reach $23.4 is $1.67, the amount must go up annually but so will balance].

2020 snapshot. $1.77 balance + $3.777 normal increment plus from the project. $3.25 going to Harper ($750,000 plus $2.5), est. $270,000 toward others and still rising balance.

2025. Surplus is now $2.55 with $4m coming in or $6.50. $3.5 million goes to last payment for Harper, leaving $2.5 million at end of TIF.

The total increment increase is 4,100 percent.

Committee recommendation- Chuck Thurow

Informational questions asked at the July 19 meeting.

Can we see the redevelopment agreement? It will be online and locked in by end of the year.
University's role. No ownership role.
Will future phases be staged? Can be.

Changes made that strengthen the project.

Pushing retail to Harper
Harper Avenue
Minority and women firms, training, hiring will move quickly
Enough money left for Canter, other projects


No architecture shown
Community input including on architectural contextuality
Gateway strategy
Traffic strategy including pedestrian, transit, linkages
Retail strategy specifics including Lake Park visibility
Net gain to businesses
Interim parking, business impacts and staging

Recommendation was in favor with the proviso of continuing consultation. Males stressed the unprecedented size of the ask and that it is less visible than small projects.

FAQs from the developer.

Who owns? A private entity composed of Vermilion and other equity partners- not the city or university. University will only be a tenant in the office bldg.

Performance requirements. Will be strong-- the city can take pack a portion.

U of C will pay property taxes? The office building will pay taxes. The University cannot go after an exception, and the developer will need the taxes to pay off the note.

Does this request cover only phases I? Yes.

Are there other public incentives besides the TIF taxes? Yes, city contributes land and more.

Will money be left in the TIF? Yes, in every year and growing rapidly after on line.

Questions from the audience

What are the milestones to the end of this year. They are driven by the need to secure the tax-free recovery bonds by the end of the year.
If approved tonight, first city papers (PD request) are filed tomorrow.
The city process is for the Redevelopment Agreement, which goes before the Community Development Commission then City Council committees and the full City Council. This takes 60 to 120 days.
The Planned Development Ordinance process takes about 120 days.

How does retail leasing fit into the project's going, where are you? Needs to bed at 60% to close on the bond. It's underway. Also required is design to a certain level. They hope the bond can be done late November or early December.

Residents on Blackstone had many questions about how close the west building will come to their line and whether there will be room for vehicular/service vehicle access. Males said the council will pay attention to this, plus it will be in the Harper Avenue study. Vermilion said there will be a setback above ground level. More discussion was held and contacts asked.

How much of the developer's money will be invested? $15 to $20 million. The University will lease its building at market rate and be paid substantially less for the land it bought than it paid.

A question was asked on triennial reassessment- it will be for all properties in the district.

Space inside for community groups as well? Suggested was to look to the major tenant of the office building (UC) or to certain lessees of the retail spaces. The hotel will have a conference center.

One said the project over all looks consistent with the original TIF objectives, except there seems to be no subsidized or free public parking. The developer said it's a balancing. The structure and underground parking are very expensive, but tenants will want prices to be low enough that people will park there. They will look with tenants at validated parking options. The performance requirements do not include free public parking. One pointed out extensive areas of nearby free parking, including Hyde Park Shopping Center.

Who provides and pays for the infrastructure. The developer.

Is it possible to accurately forecast employment? There are industry benchmarks.

What is the breakeven occupancy? Not answered.

Could you break down the $114 million cost? Hotel $23 million, leaving $87 million for all the rest of phase I (office, retail and parking). Private capital is $75 million, leaving a gap because the city measures the TIF dollars at $23.4 million but when that is monetarized it's not that much (lot lower.) Clarified: the federal contribution is not money but right to have the note at tax exempt rate, resulting in a 6% savings.

Height, sf. Hotel 8-10 stories, east retail/apartment 6 stories, west apartment/retail 5 stories, office [12], condo [up to 24]. Retail is 100,00 sf, office 150,000 sf.

Can anything else major be undertaken with TIF funds? Requires additional development.

What if TIFs are raided or redeveloped? Unlikely a law would change what is in place for a particular TIF.

Retail interest and what kind? Much, and many that are not or are no longer in Hyde Park.

Will you present on UC campus. Willing to.

Is the MWE a floor or a ceiling? Floor. A plan is being developed with the city, schools, agencies. 28% minimum is built into the RDA.

Why is Vermilion so interested in doing this in Hyde Park? Fits with university community experience, fits with this community's extensive visioning-- there is commitment from many sides.

Mae Wilson spoke for Alderman Preckwinkle's enthusiasm and support.

Motion was made to proceed to a vote. Chuck Thurow moved his committee's recommendation to the council that the request by Vermilion be accepted with proviso they continue to consult with the council. The motion was seconded. Vote by hand and orally of proxies was taken. The motion was unanimously approved.


Herald report. TIF council backs $23.4M subsidy. By Sam Cholke

The 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing District Advisory Council on July 26 unanimously approved the largest expenditure in the council's history, a $23.4 million subsidy for the $114 million redevelopment of the Harper Court Shopping Center.

"This project does all the things that were set forth when this TIF wa created," said Dave Cocagne, president of the lead developer on the project, Vermilion Development. The TIF was created in 2000 to finance a parking structure within the district. During the last decade, the district has added retail development, job creation and support for education and the public parks to its priorities.

The $23.4 million will go towards the project's 278 underground parking spaces and 55 on-street spaces, a significant increase in parking compared to the current city-owned parking lot the project will be built on. The new spaces will be metered, and discussions are ongoing about a validated parking system with potential retailers, according to the developers.

The audience was approving of the project, but was concerned that parking would be set at an affordable rate -- possibly free, since it is a publicly subsidized project. "Structured parking is a very expensive amenity to offer," Cocagne said. Parking fees will be set near market rate -- retailers will demand that parking fees be low enough that people will want to come there, Cocagne said.

The TIF district will not put up the whole $23.4 million right away. The redevelopment agreement will be structured such that tax subsidies are paid out over the life of the TIF. The deal is arranged so that the TIF district only puts up about $750,000 a year through 2025 and the rest of the money comes from the developers getting what amounts to a property tax refund.

"When we created the TIF in 2000, we envisioned a transformative project much like this one," said Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) [outside the meeting], who will shepherd the project through the legislative process over the coming months. Preckwinkle said she expects the project to be in front of the Plan Commission and the Community Development Commission by October for the next phase of city signoffs.

Before going to the commissions, the developers said they would be back in the community to talk about the design process of the project, which includes a hotel, office space and 10,000 square feet of retail space.

The developers are working to get teh project fully funded by the end of the year to take advantage of Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, which exempt the developers from some taxes on the money they borrow to finance the project. The bonds must be used by the end od the year.

Letter from Irene Sherr in the Herald of July 28 2010

My vote is to use TIF funds for Harper project

I am writing to express my support for the use of TIF funds in 53rd and Lake Park project. As long as I have lived in Hyde Park, residents have lamented the limited commercial and retail services. Even when the economy was stronger and healthier, Hyde Park did not experience the boom in new retail and residential constructing that concurred in many pars of the city over the past several years.

As one of the lead organizers of the 53rd Street Vision Workshops, it is important to remember th at NONE of the hypothetical development scenarios utilized were viable without the use of TIF funds. and even with the use of TIF funds, participating developers indicated that the projects still faced many, many challenges. TIF is a development finance tool. Let's use! We need it!

Hyde Park finally has a project that offers a significant amount of new retail and office space, a hotel, housing and parking. This project includes things the community has wanted for years. There have been countless meetings, discussions and proposals. I urge the TIF council to approve the use of TIF funds and support development and progress on 53rd Street.



Vermilion selected. The plan had public presentations to TIF starting February 8 2010. The next extensive refinement presentation was the July 12 appearance with the plans they hope bring to Plan Commission, Community Development Commission, Zoning Committee, and City Hall in the fall.
A large proportion of questions were answered in recent meetings, considering we were barely into the planning process-- the large and thoughtful array of partners have done a great deal of sophisticated thinking taking community needs and input into account.

On Vermilion: Their site: http://www.vermiliondevelopment.com. One article about: http://www.chicagorealestatedaily.com/gci-bin/news.pl?id=36747.
Reach- dave@vermiliondevelopment.com.

By Alby Gallun, Jan. 14, 2010
(Crain’s) — A downstate developer plans to knock down the Harper Court shopping center in Hyde Park and build a $200-million mixed-use project in its place.
The City of Chicago and the University of Chicago have picked Danville-based Vermilion Development to redevelop the site of the 40-year-old shopping center at 5211 S. Harper Ave., according to a news release from the city’s Department of Community Development (DCD). The university, which owns the retail center, and the city, which owns a parking lot next to it, are partners in the project.
Vermilion was selected from 12 firms that had responded to request for qualifications to develop the site.
“The proposed development will complement and enhance other nearby revitalization efforts, helping to ensure Hyde Park’s future economic viability,” Acting DCD Commissioner Chris Raguso said in the release.
The Daley administration will give the project a tax-increment financing subsidy and other financial incentives, and the University of Chicago will sign a long-term lease for office space that will house several hundred workers, Vermilion said in its own news release.
The project would also include a Hotel Indigo, a trendy chain that’s part of Buckinghamshire, England-based InterContinental Hotels Group PLC.
Chicago-based Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture Ltd. is designing the project.
Vermilion did not say how large the public subsidy would be, or the size of the lease with the university.
The developer and the administration must still hammer out a redevelopment agreement, and construction is not scheduled to start until 2011. Once Harper Court is razed, Vermilion plans to redevelop the 128,000-square-foot site in three phases that may include restaurants, entertainment, retail and office space, the release said.

From the University of Chicago News site:

City of Chicago and University announce developer for Harper Court
January 14, 2010

The City of Chicago and the University of Chicago on Thursday announced that Vermilion Development has been selected to redevelop the Harper Court retail complex in Hyde Park.

Vermilion, which has extensive experience in mixed–use developments, was recommended by a joint committee comprised of Department of Community Development planning staff and staff at the University of Chicago.

Vermilion was selected from among 12 development firms who responded to a Request for Qualifications that described the development opportunity and requirements for submitting a proposal for the 128,000–square–foot site.

“This creates an exciting opportunity to redevelop this portion of 53rd Street by creating commercial and retail space that complements the surrounding community,” acting DCD Commissioner Chris Raguso said. “The proposed development will complement and enhance other nearby revitalization efforts, helping to ensure Hyde Park’s future economic viability.”

“As a result of thoughtful and creative input from Hyde Park residents and business owners, we have an excellent development proposal that will serve both the neighborhood and the many visitors to Hyde Park from throughout the city and beyond,” said Ann Marie Lipinski, Vice President for Civic Engagement at the University. “The commitment to Hyde Park’s vitality by both the city and the university is very strong, and this project is a powerful demonstration of that commitment.”

“I am grateful to my staff, DCD personnel and University of Chicago staff for their hard work over the last year on this project,” said 4th Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle. “The development team which was chosen will transform commercial development in Hyde Park.”

The project is a partnership between the City, which owns an adjacent parking lot on South Lake Park Avenue just east of Harper, and the University, which owns the current retail properties.

Vermilion’s proposal calls for redeveloping the 40–year–old shopping center located at 5211 S. Harper Ave. by demolishing the existing center and replacing it with a mixed–use development.

The proposed $200 million development will be built in three phases that may include a mix of unique dining, entertainment, retail and office uses.

The City and the University will enter into negotiations with Vermilion and prepare a redevelopment agreement for approval by the City Council at a later date.

Sun-Times Take:

....Vermilion was selected over better-known Chicago firms with deep connections to City Hall, including the developer of downtown's Block 37, Joseph Freed and Associates LLC, McCaffery Interests Inc. and Walsh Investors LLC. Twelve bidders initially expressed interest in Harper Court, and last March the field was winnowed to five.

A city-university review panel recommended Vermilion because of its experience with mixed-use deals, officials said. Vermilion has proposed replacing the 40-year-old shopping center with dining, entertainment, retail and office uses.

A hotel, branded as Hotel Indigo, also is part of the project, said Vermilion President David Cocagne. He promised "an important, transformative project" for Hyde Park.

The university owns Harper Court, and the city owns an adjacent parking lot on Lake Park Avenue. Both will open negotiations with Vermilion over a final redevelopment agreement that would require City Council approval.

A lease commitment from the U. of C. allows the office space to be constructed, Cocagne said.

He said Vermilion has formed a partnership with firms that have long experience in Chicago, including James McHugh Construction Co. and the investment bank William Blair & Co. LLC.

From the Chicago Maroon. January 15, 2009. by Burke Frank

.... "Vermilion offered the best combination of skills, ideas, expertise, and resources to see through the kind of project the city and the University would like to see at Harper Court," University spokesman steve Kloehn said. Kloehn also cited Vermilion's financial stability in the decision, explaining that a long-tem project taking place in a recession necessitates a developer "with the means to see it through."

As part of Vermilion's proposal, CEO and President Dave Cocagne described a two phased project: the first, to begin in early 2011, would consist of constructing retail and office space, a hotel, and a parking structure, to end by 2013. Phase two would consist of mixed residential properties, including apartments and a condominium tower, and would be paced according to demand, ending as early as 2015.

"There are likely to be office spaces, restaurants, and amenities, but beyond that I think the detail still need to be worked out as to what else is right for that mix," Kloehn said. He added that the hotel and residential aspects of the proposal are especially tentative.

Both Kloehn and Cocagne said more definite plans would be presented at the next 53rd street Tax-Increment Financing (TIF) meeting, which is scheduled in March but could be held sometime next month, Kloehn said....

Cocagne said his company hopes "to put together a very compelling program that both celebrates Hyde Park and provides new amenities and services for the community. We're very excited to be undertaking this project" Cocagne said. "We think it will be very transformative for teh commercial core of Hyde Park and will really celebrate all that Hyde Park is."

Herald report, January 20, 2010.
By Kate Hawley

Vermilion Development is th city and the University of Chicago's choice to redevelop the Harper Court and the two adjoining properties. The Danville, Ill.-based Vermilion, which has a portfolio of projects in university towns, is planning a $200-million mixed-use complex to be built in three phases, according to a news release from the city.

The firm edged out 10 other developers in a competitive bidding process overseen by the university and the city, joint owners of the development site at the northwest corner of 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue. The university owns Harper Court at 5211 S. Harper Ave. and a vacant Hollywood Video store at 1530 E. 53rd St., and the city owns an adjacent parking lot.

The development plan calls for tearing down existing buildings, including three of the four buildings in the 40-year-old Harper Court, to make way for a new complex that will likely include retail, office, restaurant and hotel uses.

"We're very excited about the opportunity, because we obviously want to create a destination for Hyde Park and the surrounding area, one that celebrates the rich heritage of the area and brings something new to the community," said David Cocagne, Vermilion's president and CEO.

The company is in talks with major hotel operators, including the trendy Hotel Indigo, and may work out a lease agreement with the university, which would occupy a portion of the development's office space, he said.

Vermilion will seek public subsidies for the project, he added. "Our plan contemplates the use of public incentives, including TIF," or tax-increment financing, he wrote in a email message. "The amount of those benefits will be negotiated with the city of Chicago."

the 53rd Street TIF advisory council, the local board appointed by Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), will vote on the TIF funding. Howard Males, the council chair, said he is likely to consider it favorable since the new development would generate additional property tax revenue. "If it results in a long-term increase in increment, the benefits down the road will be will be large for our schools, our community," he said.

Vermilion wil give a presentation on its plans at a specail meeting of the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council, to be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 8, at Canter Middle School, 4959 S. Blackstone ave. The council's Planning and Development Committee will hold additional public meetings on the plans in the following weeks.

At the most recent DTIF meeting on Jan. 11, three days before announcing their choice of developer, city and university officials said they were carefully vetting the financial capabilities of the three development teams still in the running -- McCaffery Interests/The Taxman Corp., Mesa Development/Walsh Construction and Vermilion. "We've made a lot of progress in the last three weeks," said Susan Campbell, associate vice president for civic engagement at the university. "We're doing a lot more due diligence than we anticipated."

Several people in the crowd of about 60 who attended the meeting, held at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone ave., asked if the public will get to see detailed proposals from each of the three finalists -- a promise held out by Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th). "We're still working that out," Campbell said. "We don't have an answer." Most likely, only the preferred developer wil present, said James Wilson of the city's Department of Community Development.


From the March 1 vetting meeting of the 53rd St. TIF Planning and Development subcommittee

Gary Ossewaarde writes on March 2, 2010

I think the developer learned more from the questions and suggestions from the audience (which was not very large) than we did from them. There was a short PowerPoint overview that included a bit more on structure size possibilities, parking etc. The retail and restaurant-entertainment component and massing were, in my opinion, shown to be stronger/larger, more mixed, and more first-priority than under the first impression. Everything except the residential would be done in Phase I, which would be simultaneous. They did not have much of an answer on construction impacts, what happens to parking before the garage is done, traffic flow esp. on Lake Park. (The guy from the Dept. of Transportation said the developer has been asked to come in and talk to them next week, and full traffic studies will have to be done.)

Chuck organized the topics for discussion according to RFP-type categories: uses, density, massing, circulation, timing, staging, and next steps. Naturally, circulation (in and especially outside) the site had the most concerns. Chuck noted our letter of concern on that matter and that we ought to think of changes that may be needed outside the site.

Next followed by the kinds of housing structures including their timing, types, units, affordability, interface with surrounding buildings--especially the properties west of the building west of Harper. Intriguing suggestions that may not have sunk in included a north-south pedestrian throughway between Harper and Lake Park (north from 52nd Place) that could create an interface rather than a wall into the new Village Center.

There were also requests for internal activity and meeting space, use of every means possible to prevent a wind tunnel effect across from the Bank. And they were pushed a bit on the office building not being all UC, and queried why the office has to be at the corner--the developer had good answers and were firm on it, whether all would be convinced is another matter.

Committee meetings will continue.

The next TIF meeting is March 8, Monday, Kenwood Little Theater at 7. Topics are: ANTHEUS UPDATE ON VILLAGE CENTER AT LK PK AND E.HPB- preparatory to filing papers to start the process; report from this March 1 meeting, and CleanSlate's 2010 program.


Gary Ossewaarde submitted at this meeting these points on what needs to be looked at.

Dear Mr. Thurow:

General reception of the Vermilion concepts is very positive, recognizing that planning is in its very early stages. Hence the concerns I have gathered from various parties since the February 8, 2010 presentation are really things that need special attention and working out. There is general desire and assumption that good communication and public input will continue throughout.

I call your attention to the letter of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and its Development Committee published in the Hyde Park Herald last month stating the public interest or importance of good planning on three matters: public (including TIF) expenditures, circulation within and to the site, and managing impact of construction on the community and businesses.

I believe the earlier we develop thoughts and are prepared with parameters for dealing with such requests or challenges, the fewer delays or quandaries there will be.

Other items that must be carefully worked out include:

• Interface with 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue.
o How will the interface improve instead of increase traffic conflicts and congestion; how will it provide pedestrian friendliness and business district orientation to and use of transportation? As one example, especially tricky will be the handling of parking garage entry and access patterns and volume.
o The corner building must be a dramatic, signature draw creating a strong gateway while at the same time enticing people simultaneously along 53rd Street and into the new Harper Court. (One idea might be to brand the arch- including use an actual one in pedestrian walkway(s) into the Court.
o If it turns out to that it is the office building that must go at that corner, then its retail and entertainment/restaurants (which should be ample and major and perhaps rise more than two floors at one point) must be certain to open in conjunction with the office uses so as to create eyes-and-people on the street well into the evening, rather than going empty at 5 o’clock.

• Every effort should be made that what-goes-where and construction scheduling is determined by development logic rather than by accidents of tenant commitment or site vacation. (By the way, there is widespread preference that the developer own the land and development and make use decisions, rather than the University.)

• The parking—amount, configuration, access during rush times, and pricing have to be right.

• Plans and tenanting need to be looked at also in terms of improving 53rd Street and Lake Park Corridor business and not cherry pick from, separate the new from the old or leave behind the existing business district.

• Public space—while impressive, its usefulness is limited by its being outdoors. Is there a way to include a space that could be a culture and arts center (including perhaps outreach spaces from present art centers) and or space for winter markets? I note that there is little affordable meeting space presently in Hyde Park—could some of that need be accommodated here?

• Finally, people will have to be convinced that the financing truly is sound and that the product will be worth it, not only in terms of aesthetics and non-residential heft, but also by providing a broad range of what different markets want at prices they can afford.

From committee report on March 1 vetting of plan to the March 8 TIF general meeting:

Planning and Development Committee Update, Chuck Thurow, Chair

The committee met on 3/1. Topics discussed: TIF funding, pedestrian circulation, Farmer's Market Survival, rentals, density, retail and traffic as it relates to 52nd and 53rd street. The project timing will be in two phases - retail will be included in the first phase, with residential in the second as market conditions permit. The staging of interim parking while the old parking lot is under construction is an open issue. Neighbors along 52nd Street west of harper have no alley, currently using the parking right-of-way to access behind their homes. This is an open issue. The next steps Vermilion is currently working on are architectural design and materials. Audience comment and questions include (1). Donating Harper materials to Canter Middle School, (2). The need to follow progress of the project and processes, (3). A start date for construction, and, (4). The need for coordination of current projects as to not disrupt current business activity on 53rd .


From the UC's fiftythird blogsite: What is the University’s stake in developing that property? We are committed to fostering a retail environment that will match the excellence of other signature neighborhood features such as good housing, high-achieving schools, and historic cultural institutions. The neighborhood improvements we seek are in line with many of the goals identified in community meetings, surveys, and visioning workshops conducted over the last two years, including increased retail, restaurant, and entertainment options. When the Hyde Park flourishes, the University and all its neighbors benefit.


The Herald during 2009 reported that one proposal talks about the Harper Theater as for future adaptive reuse, another makes what seems to be a new street that may or may not be for traffic, a third shows a large building spanning a large part of the block.

Key elements as reported by the Herald:



For more details as they emerged, go to the Archive #6 Harper Court Sale and Archive #7 Harper Court Sale pages.

At the September 14 2009 TIF meeting, an overview was given by the city, saying the finalist would be selected and only that one would present, November 9-- which caused strong objection as Ald. Preckwinkle had promised the final 3 would present. She said she "heard" the objection. (Concerns were at a later time later expressed by reps of two organizations to the Alderman, who said she would convey this to the team.)
Plans are to build a structure comp. to Hyde Park Bank at nw. corner of 53rd and Lake Park, with a up to 25 stories building at the north end along Lake Park. These buildings are committed to retail, hotel and the rest office including heavy UC commitment and later residential (which not yet clear to this site). No details about what would be in Harper Court side or on parking, although Harper Avenue will be pushed through fairly soon.

There seems to be some confusion about when development would start after selection of a developer (now in early 2010)-- 24 months to start or to see something done? For Susan Campbell suggesting the former, see http://news.uchicago.edu/features/faq.53rd.street.tif.php.


What HPKCC and lead members have to say about this, January 2010 (see June 2010, above and July 2010, above or both in own page)

A short: Thinking about a successful planning process for 53rd-Lake Park-Harper Court. (Was published in the February 3 2010 Herald)

Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference congratulates the University of Chicago and City of Chicago on selection of a developer for 53rd-Lake Park-Harper Court. From what we have seen at public meetings of the 53rd St. TIF Council, the finalist plans appear to interact with and greatly enhance the 53rd and Lake Park business district and beyond and will help revitalize the entire neighborhood. As planning continues, we will be watching the following:

1. How much and for what will TIF (taxpayers’) money be spent, and how will this affect the short and long term balance in the TIF and its ability to fund other needs?
2. How will people get to and circulate within the site? How does the plan provide for parking, traffic movement, accessibility, pedestrian-friendliness, and alternative modes of mobility and transportation, and what may need to be addressed outside the site?
3. During the construction period, how will businesses including the Farmers' Market be helped to survive and thrive, and how will traffic, parking and pedestrians be accommodated? How will remaining tenants and any businesses that find they must move be helped to relocate?,

We look forward to continuing communication and opportunities for public review and input throughout the life of the project. We strongly encourage the public to attend scheduled meetings.

Jay Ammerman and the Board of Directors, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference.

HPKCC Monitors Harper Court Development (Watch for this in the January 2010 Conference Reporter.)

The Conference congratulates the University of Chicago and the city on their selection of Vermillion Development for Harper Court/53rd St.-Lake Park Ave. Details are scheduled to be presented at a special TIF Advisory Council meeting, open to the public, February 8, 7 pm at Canter School, after which TIF committees will meet in open sessions to review and make suggestions. At the January 11 TIF meeting, residents said they want to see what the other finalists proposed, so this can inform the planning. We encourage a large and broad public attendance at the upcoming meetings and expect such process to continue.

From what we have seen and heard prior to February 8, construction will be done in two or three phases, starting in early 2011 with an office structure (at least in part leased by the University of Chicago), retail, parking, and likely a boutique hotel. More may start as early as 2013 and likely include various residential and mixed uses. We understand that opening Harper Avenue to traffic will be among the first activities. It’s one of several infrastructure candidates for expenditure of TIF monies by the advisory council.

The three finalist plans, from what we saw, appear to interact with and greatly enhance the 53rd and Lake Park business district and areas beyond and can greatly revitalize the neighborhood.

The redevelopment program has undergone several expansions and changes in focus over nearly four years. Throughout, the Conference facilitated or collaborated in a series of public workshops and forums and conducted a highly successful online survey, presented on line, in the Reporter, and to planners and officials. We garnered needs and wants priorities, a short list of principles for redevelopment, and perhaps most important some lessons on public process and ways businesses can have a better outcome and experience by readily engaging community organizations and the public.
Our findings are still relevant, but the most important is need for communication and continuing open public input process, one that mitigates any potential for conflict of interest or mistrust and continues until the work is done.

As planning continues, we will be watching the following:
1. How much and for what will TIF (taxpayers’) money be spent, and how will this affect the short and long term balance in the TIF and its ability to fund other needs?
2. How will people get to and circulate within the site? How does the plan provide for parking, traffic movement, accessibility, pedestrian-friendliness, and alternative modes of mobility and transportation, and what may need to be addressed outside the site?
3. During the construction period, how will businesses including the Farmers' Market be helped to survive and thrive, and how will traffic, parking and pedestrians be accommodated? How will both remaining tenants and nearby businesses that find they must move be helped to relocate?

George Rumsey wrote in the Herald of January 20, 2010:

Harper Court developers welcome

Like most Hyde Parkers, I am relieved that the University and the city of Chicago have reached an agreement on a development team for the 53rd and Lake Park project.

When I served as president of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, we adopted a set of principles that we felt were necessary to make sure this development effort is a success. In the ensuing months, all concerned parties should remember three of these key concerns:

  1. Don't overlook the remaining tenants of Harper Court, and the significant impact that construction will have on surrounding businesses (parking, noise, dirt).
  2. Start planning now for how we can maintain and enhance community activities like the Farmers' Market.
  3. Keep the process open and transparent.

Since the review and approval process will begin with the 53rd Street TIF committee, I would hope that the many people who participated in the 53rd Visioning projects will attend the public TIF meetings and subsequent public committee review meetings.

I also hope that the panning and design team for Vermilion wil be willing to meet and interact with local community and business groups, much as Antheus and Eli Ungar have done with the Del Prado and Shoreland projects. Prove to the community that you're a good neighbor by taking to us (and occasionally listening), and we'll gladly welcome you to the neighborhood.


Since the February 8 2010 presentation meeting, people have raised these initial questions-- and there are doubtless more:

But first let it be said that most walked away impressed and satisfied, and feeling at most that "more work is to be done", rather than that "it's wrong."

Reluctance to have the University owning the complex or deciding tenants, or taking income from it except from the sale price.

How sturdy is the financing, in these times?

Office building not signature enough for the gateway location, maybe needs an emblem such as reinterpretation of the Bank Arch. And how will it entice commuters and work with the Metra station?

An office building emptying out at 5 pm runs counter to the goal of creating a 24-7 destination. A multi-story retail store might be better, with the office stretched out atop that? (And why no higher than the bank building?)

Steps to calm Lake Park for pedestrian friendliness not enough- retail there may need to be stronger, and not weakened by a close curb cut and gap for parking access.

Makes 53rd and intersection traffic worse?

Project may do little to help 53rd St. retail redevelopment and may even cherry pick retail and shoppers away; doesn't really open up the new Harper Court to 53rd. May shift gravity to north of 53rd, or repeat the mistake of hiding the Court away.

The expanded public space is outdoors, limiting its year-round and all-weather usefulness--shouldn't some be indoors (and more meeting space is needed anyway).

Some of the supporting principles are oversimplified-- not all in workshops endorsed density or height; what is meant by "quality" and can it be a code for upscaling the community?; parking need was also stressed; enhancing and embracing 53rd business district was first-principal, and having spaces that are affordable with merchandise most can afford to shop for was also important.

There should be a full-service cultural center, with outreach from the various museums and centers, both a draw/destination and a respite for those visiting the new Harper Court, the bank building etc. Bring culture to where the people are.



End stories of moved, moving, hold out tenants. (Back stories are in the archived Harper pages.)

Wake Veterinary clinic (Hyde Park Pets) moving to 53rd Street on May 1 2010, and opened also a larger facility at 69th and Stony in May 2011.

From Hyde Park Herald March 17, 2010. By Daschell M. Phillips.

Hyde Park Animal Clinic reopened at 1363 E. 53rd St. on May 1 2010. It also closed on a lot at 69th and Stony Island for its larger animal hospital and potential boarding facility with more staff, expertise, and services.

Park 52 and Checkerboard are given generalized assurances about impact mitigation and relocation-- the developer will meet with them. Note: The University of Chicago is both these businesses landlord and partners in the Harper Court development.

Bidding farewell to Calypso Cafe- and counting the costs of progress.

Herald editorial, April 20, 2011

When we are counting the costs to make the University of Chicago's vision of a revitalized harper Court a reality, there is no doubt that Calypso Cafe and Dixie Kitchen will be high on that list of losses. When the first of the Harper Court buildings came down, the Andresen family that owns the restaurants moved Dixie into the back of Calypso so that we might savor their johnnycakes and pulled pork sandwiches a little longer under the leases Calypso had a 5211 S. Harper Ave. It seems that reprieve hs come to an end as the lead developer of the project, Vermilion, finally bought out the lease at that spot.

A project of this scope is bound to displace businesses -- a main reason to have advised caution throughout the process of planning at Harper Court -- but we always should be sure and tally the damage. No matter what city planners and university development boosters might think, no megastore is going to magically remake retail in Hyde Park, and there are plenty of large-scale developments in the city loaded with residential units and empty storefronts that seem to be forever beckoning to retailers who are in turn waiting for the next guy to blink. No, what makes a retail area thrive are the intrepid Andresens of the world who open small businesses and plug away at making them work. Each time we lose one, we've taken a step back from our long-term goals, and we should all be well aware of that.
In this case, it certainly adds insult to injury that we've also lost a first-rate tomato-base conch chowder in the bargain.

Artisans 21 closes, will try to move- rent 7 times higher than subsidized rent in Harper Court

Herald, June 15, 2011. By Sam Cholke.

Artisans 21 will close at the end of the month when its lease ends. "I'm hopeful we'll reopen in three months," said Ann Arnas, president of teh cooperative gallery, adding that the store is considering leaving Hyde Park for the first time in 48 years. "It's a chang in times, there's a lot of space available, but it's so expensive," Arnas said. "We're not opposed to being in Hyde Park-- believe me, I love Hyde Park-- but right now, we can't support ourselves with the rent they require."

Arnas said she has vive real estate agents scouring the neighborhood, but is finding that moving downtown might be the cheaper option, where there is more foot traffic and retail rents are similar to Hyde park at $45 a square foot.

The gallery moved to its storefront at 1373 E. 53rd St. after the University of Chicago purchased its previous home at the Harper Court Shopping Center in 2008. The gallery's rent was heavily subsidized at Harper Court, which was established in 1965 in part to financially support arts-related businesses.

Artisans 21 entered the wilderness of the Hyde Park real estate market, where rent was seven-times higher than at Harper Court, just as t he economy began to slump. Arnas said the store has continued to build membership and attract shoppers, but the decline in consumer spending affecting the entire business community is also hitting the gallery. "We tell students they can get something cheap, $10 to $15, and a lot of them say, 'We don't have even that,'" said Barbara O'Connor, a photographer and knitter who sells in the store.

The gallery is soliciting donations and passing around a petition asking for support, but the store needs more than a one-time infusion of cash to stay in the neighborhood. "We've been running in the red every month for the last two years," Arnas said. An anonymous patron of the arts was financially supporting the gallery until recently, according to Arnas. "We lost our angel," she said.

When Harper Court was sold, the university helped some of the businesses relocate. Artisans 21 found its 53rd Street location on its own, and Arnas said when she reached out to the university recently for help finding a new location, "I got nothing. No feedback. Nothing."

The gallery has been soliciting support from neighborhood arts groups and Ald. will Burns (4th), and Arnas was hopeful that something could be found in Hyde Park that has the foot traffic the store needs to stay in the black. "We would like to rise like the phoenix and be reborn," said Joy Rosner, a weaver and member of the cooperative.

Artisans 21 is one of the oldest artist cooperatives in the city, and would like to continue with the business model, but is beginning to debate a change, according to Arnas. The nonprofit 21st Century Artisans also operates out o the storefront and will have to move. The nonprofit, which organizes the Hyde Park Community Art fair and offers art classes, does not share in the store's financial difficulties, according to Arnas. The gallery's goods will start going into storage on June 25 and the lease ends on June 30.

Artisans 21 going through tough times. Letter by Rob Borja Herald, June 15, 2011

We at Artisans 21 have always contended that the arts are vital to a healthy, balanced society, and that includes the handcrafted arts, which are the most accessible forms encountered in everyday life.

As you must know, Artisans 21 has been a unique presence in our city, a stalwart for four decades at Harper Court until that venues' demise last year.

We have the support of our new alderman, Will Burns, as we had of Toni Preckwinkle in the past, and a long list of "Friends of Artisans 21" signatures, but our current expenses with which we have been wrestling have proven too steep for a profit-free coop despite anonymous donor members. We have not found a new haven, but his is not an obituary. We will stay together until we have found a new home fo fine crafts.

The gallery for Artisans 21 will close on June 18. You can direct your comments and inquiries to Anne arnas, president, at originannies@yahoo.com or artisans21gallery.com.

Harper Court "People Watching" sculpture saved by Lab School, which has old associations- done

Herald, June 15, 2011. By Daschell M. Phillips

The University of Chicago Laboratory School has expressed interest in acquiring the "People Watching" sculpture that is currently located in Harper Court.

The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, which is serving as the guardian of the sculpture, is currently in negotiations with the Lab School to have the sculpture moved from Harper Court, where the current structure of the retail units are being razed to make way for a new shopping center.

Lenora Austin, the out-going executive director of the chamber, said she hopes the negotiation is a success so that the sculpture "wil not become the victim of the wrecking ball." The cast iron, three-figure sculpture, which was created by Lab School alum Matt freedman, was unveiled in Harper Court in 1986 and considered a nice compliment to the area, where residents lounged on benches and steps and played chess. The "People Watching" sculpture was Freedman's first large commission.

Freedman's alum status as well as the fact that his mother was a teacher at the school is part of the reason the Lab School is interested in the piece. The school is considering establishing a gallery that will display the artwork of its alumni and faculty.

The chamber is offering the sculpture as a gift to the school for the purposes of preservation. It also plans to offer the school $1,967.52-- the money it allocated to the maintenance of the sculpture--to help facilitate the move. "The move would accomplish the goals of both organizations and keep the piece in the community for all to enjoy," Austin said.


Map. For maps showing Harper within the whole 53rd TIF, see TIF Maps page. (There are three buildings in Harper Court proper (not labeled, at center) and excluding the UC leasehold (Checkerboard). Note also the city lot #44 which is also in the RFP. In the original Planned Development were Harper Court, City Lot, and McDonald's site (formerly a gas station.)

Harper Court locator map. Find the three buildings, exclude the "Checkerboard".

A Harper Court HPKCC timeline

Two years or more of retreats supposedly precedes decision to sell; HCt Foundation consults stakeholders who keep the matter confidential. However, Harper Court minutes show active negotiations to sell, including with the University started before the start of 2003 and were quite intense.
January 2003- board votes to sell, forms strategic committee. Appraisal says $4-$5 m.
March 2003- University interested, board notes need to keep under wraps, issue disinformation if necessary. I April 2 members set to meet with Hank Webber, Jo Reizner
By December 2003 the board feels UC stalling, opens to all offers, considg. sealed bids.
June 2005 all negotiations with University at an end
November? 2005: Foundation's lawyer brings a buyer to Harper Court
December. Harper Court Foundation turns over assets (shopping center) to Harper Court Arts Council (HPAC) and a buyer is announced
Feb 2 2006: Neighbors to Save HC spoke to HPKCC board
Feb 9: George Rumsey, George Davis, Carol Bradford, Charles Custer meet with Asst. Atty. Gen. Therese Harris
Feb 10: Letter to Harper Court requesting meeting with them at their convenience
Feb 17: Word given that the Arts Council will speak at the March 13 TIF meeting
Feb 21: HPKCC Exec. Committee drafts a public response and questions to HCAC
Feb 27: HPKCC letter forwarded to Atty Gen's office with comments, Herald articles
Mar 1: HPKCC letter in Herald, community meetings planned
Mar 13: TIF meeting presentation by HCAC, RFP process formally announced, input requested
Mar 28: At HPKCC planning meeting, Alderman Preckwinkle announces inclusion of the city parking lot and switch to a city RFP process.
Apr 5: HCAC has press release in Herald.
April: 3 tenants (Nancy Stanek of Toys Et Cetera, Dr. Wake of he HP Animal clinic, Paul Andresen of Dixie Kitchen, Calypso) offer to buy out the center, HCAC refuses.
Apr 11: HPKCC community forum on future of Harper Court
Apr 25: HPKCC working groups meeting on principles and guidelines for RFP
May 8: TIF meeting to hear reports from HCAC, HPKCC
June 8: HPKCC asks HCAC to meet with HPKCC committee; at end of June HPAC says after TIF mtg., then mtg. with Dept. of Planning. Never happens.
Hans Morsbach proposes a tenant-based new board.
Community members (Des Jardins) get Harper Court minutes previous 2 years from state via FOI.
July 10: HCAC presents statement of principles (incorporating community comments although weakened). Most comments are distrustful and express desire for the current Harper board to step aside and Harper Court to be largely left alone and the RFP stopped. Former Harper Court Foundation board minutes (clearly not expected by HCAC to be obtained) were source of accusations over past secret sale efforts. HCAC says ay they will meet with HPKCC after meeting with the city. August 3 they say they will be in touch to schedule a meeting. Later they can’t meet to decide to meet until after Labor Day.
Late July: series of Herald reports document 3 years of Harper Court negotiations to sell the center.
August 3 HPKCC board reiterates primacy of keeping to the original mission, real public process, need for ways for current tenants to stay in business during and after any development, and inadequacy of the HCAC board to run a sale or manage realized assets.
August sees more strong editorials, letters.
By mid Sept. HCAC and city hadn’t met. Ald. Preckwinkle, citing HPAC mismanagement, announces the city will handle the RFP and sale (it's starting as of September 2006 with new appraisal and the process is expected to be slow but certain); the Arts Council will only realize its share of profit rom the sale.
Sept.-Oct. Rep. Currie backs original purpose and considering residents' needs.

December: There is no update; appraisal still is not done. (Guess- we will hear nothing before the February election. And indeed in January we learned the city found the appraisal it received unacceptable. Next step uncertain.)
January 2007- Nancy Stanek's Toys Et Cetera, tenant, moved out, she and the veterinarian saying that teardown is likely. Later Dr. Wax gets in lease trouble, told to leave
Fall 2007- RFP process starts to move again; HPKCC Development Committee plans meeting, survey with TIF committees; physical visioning comm'd by HPKCC
. December 8 53rd Street Vision Workshop with Dept. Plg., CMAP attracts over 150 residents.
February 2008. Visioning sessions begin with planner Aaron Cook; Survey held Feb. 20-Mar. 20; Feb. 26 public forum on Harper Court future.
Reports on Survey being prepared; call for ideas in advance of an RFQ/RFP process to start c May 12 TIF meeting
May 2008 it's announced the UC has bought Harper Court, will continue the RFP process-- but the ground of expectations was altered by purchase.
May-July public comments were sought on principles for RFP, revised by TIF Planning Committee.
November the parties approve RFP text and issuance, done December 8. Pre bid meeting held December 17, 1st deadline Jan. 19 ext. to 26th.
November 15 block exercise included Harper Court, none of the concept was fully viable for return on investment, but within range of tweaking.
January 2009: the University extended deadline for tenants to vacate from January 31 2009 to June; extensive criticism of haste to vacate. Ald. Preckwinkle reaffirms that the finalists will be asked to present, not just selected finalist.
During 2009 word slowly comes out of what's in the gradually winnowed proposals (to 3). Disputes arise over vacating spaces, demolition of one building, and how much can be revealed. Hollywood Video space was added.
February 2010: Vermilion of Danville Illinois is selected, presents to the TIF and a suite of committee meetings including in March, May, June. There is much community feedback and refinement.
July 12: Vermilion presents the revised plan and asks for a $23.4 commitment during the life of the TIF as 20.5% Phase I cost of $114 million. Strong questions are asked on financials, how much is left for other TIF priorities, and more. A series of community and TIF meetings are set up.
Late 2010-October 2011. Closure on agreements among the partners and city and closing on financing keeps being pushed back, but plan revisions, including looks, were periodically revised. In the spring, LA Fitness and the Hyatt Hotel partners were firmed up. It also became clear that the University would be sole leaser of the office building. (UC will not be the operator.)
In October it became clear who would be the lenders and owners of different portions. The main owner in the end will be Canyon-Johnson (incl. Irvin "Magic" Johnson). In September it became clear that the TIF financing will much closer than thought because of a 2009 change in assessment method, shifting burden from commercial to residential owners.
In late August 2011 site work finally began.

Early 2008 Timeline on Community Priorities for Harper Court and the Adjacent City Parking Lot.

by George Rumsey, HPKCC President

9-Dec 53rd Street Vision Workshop
19-Dec HPKCC Development Committee Meets- follow-up meeting to 53rd Street Vision Workshop
10-Jan HPKC Development Committee
14-Jan TIF Council Meeting. Alderman Preckwinkle requests HPKC work with TIF on community input.
23-Jan TIF Neighborhood & Business committee/HPKCC Development. Large community group with representatives from TIF, HPKCC, OWL, SECC, Chamber of Commerce, Coalition for Equitable Community Development, and Harper Court Arts Council agrees to conduct an online survey; Trish Morse (HPKCC), Charles Newsome ((TIF), Gary Ossewaarde (HPKCC) to draft summary
4-Feb TIF/HPKCC Meeting on Survey. Survey content roughly finalized; Irene Sherr, George Rumsey, Jane Comiskey, and Pat Wilcoxen finalize content and test survey questions
23-Feb Survey launched. Publicity on-going
26-Feb HPKCC/TIF forum on RFPs
3-Mar [set date for] TIF/HPKCC Development Progress Meeting (7 pm Neighborhood Club).

April 2008- University of Chicago buys Harper Court, speaks in general terms at May TIF meeting of general intent to continue RFQ/P process.
May TIF - Opened for comment on RFP principles; many submitted.
May- Vision 53 exercise part II looks up close at 53rd St, harper, 51st.
May 27 TIF Planning and Dev. subcommittee meets publicly and substantially revises principle document
Summer-fall- city and owner evaluation of comments, work on the RFP document, held back until after November 15 Vision 53 block exercise
November 18 Community Development Commission approves RFP, which is released December 8. December 17 pre-bid meeting. The timeline is found in the RFP Document (visit Harpercourtsalerfp page); deadline for initial submittal is May 2009.



Where HPKCC has stood and continued to stand: HPKCC board position on Harper Court.

Full position detailed in Letter in HPKCC & Harper Court Letter page

At its February and March meetings 2006, the Board made it clear that it opposes the manner in which Harper Court Foundation and Arts Council have ignored their original public mission and public mission, indeed unethical practices, with regard to transfer and attempted sale of the shopping center.

At the May 4 meeting, the board, which had been serving in its capacity as a facilitator of community decision-making and a conduit of residents' views and ideas about the future of Harper Court, took its own position, which will be conveyed by President Rumsey to the community as part of his report at the May 8 TIF Advisory Council meeting.

The Board position was on the core principle for the direction of redevelopment of Harper Court. Note that the Conference has not to date taken a position on amount and type of physical redevelopment.

HPKCC holds that Harper Court must retain and continue to carry out its original mission at least in part: Helping small businesses, including arts and artisan-based, to survive and grow in our community.

George Rumsey distributed an 8 page report at the TIF meeting May 8, at which he gave background and the board's position and the 6 community constants below, from meetings. Commitments were also made that members of the Arts Council and a board committee of the Conference will meet.

The Conference in Action

Actions of [HPKCC[ Board Endorse Original Harper Court Mission

On May 4, 2006, the Board of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference voted 12 to 1 (2 abstentions) to endorse the need to preserve, in some form or manner, the original mission of the Harper Court Foundation: "the civic purposes of furthering the trade and economic development of the Hyde Park-Kenwood area in the City of Chicago and is environs, and promoting and assisting the growth and development of business concerns, including small-business concerns in said area" with special emphasis for "the continuation in the community of artisans, craftsmen, and educational, recreational and other services offered on a commercial basis, but of special cultural or community significance" (paragraph 5, Harper Court Foundation Articles of Incorporation, April 17, 1963).

In its three public meetings since the TIF meeting, the Conference has heard a variety of worthwhile opinions and ideas that deserve exploring. There have also been several constants:

  1. The original mission should be retained.
  2. The current tenants should be "helped" during any construction period.
  3. Any development must be appropriate for Hyde Park, and huddle preferably be appealing to a broad spectrum of the neighborhood: a "gateway" to 53rd street.
  4. any new development should be kept at a height consistent with 53rd Street.
  5. Adequate parking must be provided.
  6. Public space (including chess benches) is required.

Following lengthy discussions earlier this year with the Illinois Attorney General's Office of Charitable Trusts, the Conference raised several questions it hoped would be answered by the Arts Council. Five remain unanswered:

  1. What is the Council's idea of appropriate development for Harper Court?
  2. How are the Arts Council bylaws being revised to fit its new role?
  3. What is being done to make the Council board more representative of the community, especially the arts?
  4. What steps are being taken to eliminate conflicts of interests?
  5. What framework will be created to make decisions about the dissemination of funds from the sale?

In August 2006, the HPKCC board reiterated its insistence that the Arts Council put operation in accord with the original purpose back at the top of its purpose and action and commit to public process through public meetings called for the Harper Court issue, the TIF Council being a seriously inadequate forum for the issue.




An Open Letter to the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community, March 17 2006 with Herald "heads up":

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference is committed to openness in community affairs. Within the past 18 months we have called for greater transparency when it was time to select a state senate replacement for Barack Obama, asked that the current meetings to choose a rehab plan for Promontory Point be open to the press and public, and requested that board members of the Harper Court Foundation explain their recent secret actions to the public.

Many members of the HPKCC board were at the March 13 TIF council meeting devoted to Harper Court. While Harper Court board members said in advance of the meeting that they would be answering questions, virtually all of the Conference's questions, submitted to them in advance and in writing, were conspicuously ignored. While board members of the Harper Court Arts Council said that they were listening, we were troubled that when it was repeatedly suggested that community groups be part of an open process to create a set of principles and help draft a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Harper Court property, the suggestion was summarily ignored.

We believe that is a mistake.

HPKCC wants community voices to be heard concerning the future of Harper Court. The Conference is asking everyone, including the Harper Court Foundation and Arts Council, to join us in a series of open meetings, where we will work together publicly and collaboratively to create a set of principles regarding the future of Harper Court and its proposed RFP.

We emphasize that, at all stages, members of the Harper Court boards will be invited and encouraged to participate. Our deliberations will be set up to be constructive and to draw upon the collective wisdom and experience of our community. We cannot force the Harper Court Arts Council to listen, but we can show them what a genuinely open process entails.

We plan to have our drafts available at the next TIF meeting on May 8. It will be a difficult task to get all this done so quickly while keeping the procedure open and inclusive. But we have no choice. Alderman Preckwinkle has asked the Harper Court board to be ready by May 8 to present its own set of principles and a draft RFP. If we want to ensure community members have a chance to be involved in a transparent process, we have to create the process ourselves.

Interested members of the community are encouraged to contact us with comments and suggestions. You can reach the Conference at 773-288-8343 or email hpkcc@aol.com.

We would value your participation. Please watch for announcements of upcoming public meetings that will be listed in the Herald and posted on our website at www.hydepark.org.

George W. Rumsey, President
M.L. Rantala, Vice President
George W. Davis, Director
on behalf of the Board of Directors
Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference


Archive: Links to our tracking and reports pages on the Harper Court controversy

Chronological records

History of the old Harper Court 1963-mid 2000s. See also in Hyde Park Urban Renewal and Hyde Park Urban Renewal Timeline 1 and HPURTimeline 2.
Previous #1 (Harper Court Sale and Reconstruction Jan 2003-Nov 2005-March 2006).
Previous #2 (March-June 2006 incl. HPKCC public FORUMS)
Previous #3 (mid 2006-mid 2007)
**Previous #4 (late 2007-mid 2008).
Includes 2008 forums, Survey, Aaron Cook's charettes,
pivotal UC purchase of HCt, TIF, start of RFP preparation, community views and more until fall 2008.

Previous #5 (late 2008 into mid 2009- RFP and first look at responders, controversy over emptying of tenants)
Previous #6 (mid 2009 - more about RFP finalists)
Previous #7 (late 2009 - still more as selection nears, and new concerns)
Previous #8 (from the February 8, 2010 presentation and early consideration)
Previous #9 (Vermilion July presentation and request for TIF funding)
Previous #10 (HPKCC letters/communications June-July 2010 on the Request for TIF funding)
Previous #11 (July 2010 TIF- Vermilion presentations and TIF Adv. Co. vote on request)
#12 is this page. Top
#13 Harper Court Construction log

Some background
2005 Letter of the Save Harper Court group, with contacts, petition. Also:
Harper Theater RFP guidelines (model)

History of Harper Court 1963-1990s. Harper Court's Chess controversy. Harper Court Arts Council (current, having sold and disassociated from the shopping center)-in own page.
2005 Letter of the Save Harper Court group
, with contacts, petition. Also:
Harper Theater RFP guidelines (model).

HPKCC forums and reports in the early stages of the controversy

Harper Court Papers-ideas and principles and HPKCC and Harper Court
and **special issue May 2006 Conference Reporter (Harper Court forums reports, data) - PDF version.
Winter 2006 Conference Reporter has more.

July 10 2007?. Report on that meeting's extended discussion of Harper Court.)

2008 Forum and Vision reports leading to the issuance of the RFP

Summary document of previous public input and studies Priorities for Harper Court.
To reports on February 26 2008 mtg. on Harper Court RFP process.

2008 Harper Court Survey results online.
HPKCC Letters December 2008 to Ann Marie Lipinski of U of C and Ald. Preckwinkle on development and 53rd St. issues.

http://www.vision53.org/12.html or text-only here. Proposed revisions by TIF Plg. are in this page. Here or in own page HPKCC comments on original draft. ALL COMMENTS ON DRAFT GUIDELINES FOR HARPER AREA RFP:
http://www.vision53.org/index.html. Page with text from December 2007 first Vision Workshop.
See Harper Court results from the November 15 2008 block exercise- also in http://www.vision53.org.


Draft RFP guidelines and TIF Plg & Dev. Committee mid 2008 proposed revision
in separate page.
To Announcement of and link to Harper Court Area RFQ/RFP, released by City of Chicago and University of Chicago December 08 (12), 2008.

About the finalists.

Other websites:

http://www.harpercourtchicago.com, info@harpercourtchicago.com.
Hotel: hydeparkchicagohotel.com.

South East Chicago Commission- http://www.hydeparkchicago.org.
These may be no longer extant:
Vision process, was in SECC website.
http://www.hydeparkchicago.org/3.html. Now up in

UC's blog and informational site on Harper Court and 53rd Street: http://fiftythird.uchicago.edu (Don't expect much there). Also, check periodically uchicago.edu/engage (Office of Civic Engagement) or subscribe to the UC news listserve.