53rd/Hyde Park SSA Commission (Special Service Area/tax district #61)
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This is NOT a website of/for SSA 61- that is downtownhydeparkchicago.com

HOME page- http://www.hydepark.org/ Navigation rest of the site http://www.hydeparkrecord.org and site index navigator.
Development Hot Topics. Development home navigator. 53rd St. TIF and Development News. 53rd TIF home.

August 16, 2017 the SSA Commissioners accepted the proposal of South East Chicago Commission over another's to continue to be the service provider for the SSA.


Visit secc-chicago.org, find SSA section. South East Chicago Commission is the local hosting organization.

Where is it? Chicago, 6 miles (15 minutes) south of the Loop: business district 53rd St. Woodlawn-Cornell, Lake Park Ave. 51st-55th, 55th Harper to S. Hyde Park Blvd.

Early actions and formation
Meetings mid 2014
What is it about? More and SECC's tasks
Thoughts about

George Rumsey's summary June 2014


Special Service District 61 Commission meets 4th TUESDAYS at Polsky 2nd floor east conference room (Jackson Park Room), 1452 E. 53rd St. Meetings are open to the public. 2 meetings a quarter are at 11 am and the third at 7 pm.
Next March 26, 7 PM at Polsky.

June 14, 2017 a public meeting was held to introduce a Phase 2 buildout of Harper Court. Polsky Center will expand and include both fabrication and office spaces for post-startup enterprises and for business/ corporations seeking proximiity to the innnovation center, as well as pop up and other additional retail. Idtwill include 16 stories built upon the north platform on Lake Park (north of the tall UC building) and a short building replacing the Park 52 building and (it was unclear) atop the north block of Harper Court stores. Parking will be expanded. Reception was mixed, with business being enthusiastic both in general and because this would increase denisty and keep growing firms from relocating out of Hyde Park. Some persons preferred these firms be dispersed through the South Side. Others worried about traffic and other congestion and density. Some wanted the change to fix problems with Harper Court and urged more opportunities for small local businesses. Also noted was that the original concept for a phase 2 was that it be for housing, particularly affordable housing. The teams will be coming back frequently with updates and for input.

Officers as of June 2014-

Executive Officers

Mike McGarry
Vice President
George Rumsey
Mary Rogel
Donna Trainor

Board Members

Anthony Fox
Gregory Guttman
James Hanson
Allison Hartman
James Hennessy
Jacqueline jackson
Charles Newsome

Director: Eric E. Reaves

Early actions and formation.

2013 May 22 the TIF council voted recommendation to the alderman that taxes (assessment) portion of increment going to the TIF representing SSA Assessments be turned over to the SSA. This would have allowed a lower tax levy and flexibility in carrying out mutual goals yet with greater controls. But the city rejected that, at least for 2014, perhaps due to TIF obligations being at or greater than income?
The first public rollout meeting for SSA followed. Report to be inserted. More information including the PowerPoint and spreadsheets are at http://www.secc-chicago.org. The Herald is expected to post the schedule of meetings for the rest of the year in late April 2014.
January 2014 City Council finished approval of the new SSA. Appointments were made. First public meeting?
Note- contrary to many descriptions and maps, neither Hyde Park Village (51st Lake Park, by its request), nor structures on eastern 53rd St. such as the Del Prado are in the SSA.

At the 53rd St. TIF meeting on January 30 2013, report was made on the formation of an exploratory board for creation of a SSA or Special Service Area taxing district. Alderman Burns, South East Chicago Commission, and others have been considering such a body for some time (sponsors say it came up in the visioning process), in order to provide services and amenities that the 53rd St. TIF and other bodies either are not permitted to provide, or don't have the funds to provide them. Object is to create a hospitable commercial area. A director for the SSA has been hired by Provider SECC.

An SSA generally runs along a commercial corridor and collects a tax from businesses within the boundaries. A process to establishment is set out in the city's website. No formal vote need be taken.

South East Chicago Commission, Dir. Wendy Williams, has taken on the responsibility to start the process and would apply to the city by a June deadline for creation of the area. The 18 member provisional board is exploring exact boundaries (for now following the 53rd and 51st TIFs but considering adding properties on 55th especially the Hyde Park Shopping Center, services, and budget.

The board needed a second organizational meeting in February, at which a regular schedule for open meetings would be set. Asked at the TIF meeting, about half the members live or work within the current boundaries and about half are women. Not all are business owners or staff.

(The following list is revised per May 22 2014)

Chair: Jim Poueymirou. Members:

Peter Cassel (MAC/Silliman)
David Cocagne (Harper Court Partners)
Sue Freehling (retailer- Pots and Pans)
Wallace Goode (ex dir Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce)
Shirley Griffin
James Hennessy (U of C real estate)
Paula Jones (Hyde Park Bank)
Pattie Kidwell (Chant and Noodles restaurants)
Michael M. McGarry (pres. Hyde Park Bank)
Charles Newsome (Kimbark Plaza)
James Poueymirou (SECC; financial services)
Dr. Cynthia Reynolds-Temple (optometrist)
__ Robinson
George Rumsey (business; community organizations)
Jonathan Swain (Kimbark)
Eli Ungar (Antheus Capital)

[Note: this is an advisory committee- if the SSA is set up, Ald. Burns and Hairston will appoint a commission.
Also, South East Chicago Commission wants it known that its role is (as asked by the Aldermen) to serve as the required local convening and logistical provider. It does not impose taxes.]

What the Herald said about discussion of the SSA at the May 13 2013 TIF meeting

Wendy Williams, Executive Director of South East Chicago Commission was the chief presenter. A (provisional?) map was distributed that included at least most of the TIF Woodlawn to East Hyde Park Blvd. and a stretch on 55th Street. Williams urged people to take the online survey at surveymonkey.com/s/hydeparkssa. She asked the TIF council to recommend to Ald. Burns to allocate to the SSA the portion of tax increment equal to the SSA assessment so the tax rate can be lower. A quorum was not present to do so.


Mid 2014 SSA meetings

At its April 23 2014 meeting, (minutes will be in the secc-chicago.org website) the Commission was exploring branding, expenditures for street cleaning, flower baskets, and other streetscape. SECC announced various street cleaning and 'scape projects it will undertake with other funds this spring.

Significant actions May 28 included approval based on competitive RFPs to hire Cleanslate for sidewalk trash pickup and Brickman to service the hanging baskets in the SSA through this summer. For these and other expenditures interim funding is being sought until the first tax money is put in the SSA bucket, perhaps late June. SECC has received a grant to power wash 53rd St. within a few weeks. This fall, not funded by SSA, there will be extensive streetscape work- trees, tree wells, and light pole cleaning and painting. 53rd St. Farmers Market will be where it was last year, 53rd and S. Hyde Park Blvd. The city says there is only room for 14 vendors (12 of whom were there last year) although there is a wait list of over 40. Harper Court management says there is not enough room there. The SSA will search for a larger site for next year. Farmers Market is a cash wash for the SSA. The SSA voted to partner with the Vitality Council (SECC, U of C, Chamber) to promote Small Business/Shop Locally Day the Saturday after Thanksgiving. So far it is not co-sponsoring a big festival, but may if some kind of Octoberfest or Halloween event is held.

The June 25 meeting. Having gotten hanging gardens and street cleaning under way, money at last in the coffer, and assured that considerable streetscape work will be done in the fall under other funding, the SSA turned to initial thoughts on what it can fund that will make a difference. Near the top of the list was a trolley-- in initial cost exploration, an urban garden and ways to brand the business district. The urban garden could involve a partnership with Gary Comer Youth Center, where youth are trained and paid to grow plants-- some of this could be in planters here or for hanging gardens here. Branding might include a look and a theme- the street furniture similar and recognizably Hyde Park business district.

At the July 23 meeting, the most significant action was to bid and negotiate with companies for a pilot of a trolley for the business district, pilot targeted for the Small Business-Shop Locally weekend at the end of November.

What is it about/focus? (2013?)

George Rumsey (a member of the SSA Advisory Committee) gave some insight in a Good Neighbors post:

The mission is "to enhance and maintain a vibrant, pedestrian friendly, neighborhood commercial district that reflects the culture and history of Hyde Park, serving local stakeholders and attracting visitors."

It's geared to the business district, hence the boundaries along 53rd, Lake Park, and 55th. Unfortunately, the state law creating SSAs requires that buildings to be included must be contiguous--you can't skip a building and then pick up with the next one. In order to get to the Del Prado (a major chunk of income for the SSA), it had to include some of the residences along 53rd.

When thinking about the outlines of the map, we reached a consensus about buildings that are primarily retail with secondary housing (MAC's buildings along 55th between Lake Park and Cornell, which are included), as opposed to buildings that are primarily housing with secondary retail (Hampton House, for instance, which is excluded). The buildings east of Hyde Park Blvd. on 55th were dropped because they were primarily housing, with a few small businesses around the Cove that added very little to the intake. I believe we got it down to only 3 buildings included in the map that are entirely residential; all the rest are mixed use or retail ....

51st is a different issue, because CityHydePark is its own separate TIF, and Kenwood Academy doesn't pay property taxes.

My hope is that this project SHOULD benefit all of Hyde Park. Whoever sent out that letter was very off target. Turns out the technical advisors have been confused about which SSA proposal they're working on ...

We itemized four priorities:

Parking/Transit/Accessibility (22% concern)
Advertising and Promotion (19% concern)
Public Way Aesthetics (17.5% concern)
Safety (10% concern)

The area would stretch from 53rd and Woodlawn to Hyde Park Blvd. on 53rd, down Lake Park to 55th, and under the tracks almost to Hyde Park Blvd.
[Many who have turned to an SSA think the] TIF was diverted from the services that needed to be performed to make 53rd/55th succeed... TIF is not a tax, it's a tax re-direction. But the SSA will be a tax (currently aimed at 0.625% of your property tax value), targeted to defined problems and purposes (as budgeted by an SSA commission recommended by aldermen Burns and Hairston).

Jim Poueymirou, chairman of the Hyde Park Special Service Area Advisory Committee, sought to set the record straight on SSA and what the SECC's tasks as service provider would be (Herald, June 5 2013)

Thank you for th coverage of the 53rd Street TIF meeting in the recent edition of the paper regarding the proposed Special Service Area (SSA) for central business district in Hyde Park. The SSA Advisory Committee has worked hard to put forth a proposal to the community that is reflective of stakeholder thoughts adn input. Unfortunately, some of he information circulating in the community about the SSA adn the South East Chicago Commission's (SECC) role in the proposal is incorrect. In response to the questions received, we want to share a few facts about the SSA proposal.

1. An SSA is an economic development tool, created by state statute, that allows additional real estate property taxes to be levied to fund added services for a defined area.

2. The SSA is locally controlled, locally driven economic development tool, which is locally administered with oversight by a local commission made up of property owners. residents and other stakeholders.

3. The SSA is being proposed by the 4th and 5th Ward aldermen, who share the boundaries of the area.

4. All the decisions regarding the implementation of an SSA, including the budget and services, are made by the SAA Commissioners. SSA Commissioners are appointed by the mayor.

5. The aldermen asked the SECC to serve as teh service provider for the program for the proposed Hyde Park SSA.

6. As the service provider, the SECC would be assigned five key responsibilities:

(A) hire a program manager as an employee to manage the daily activities of the SSA, and (B) hire contractors to implement programs and services, (C) disburse payments for services, (D) obtain appropriate insurance for SSA programs as determined by the city and (E) hire a certified public accountant to provide annual financial statements.

7. There are over 44 active SSAs within the City of Chicago that work to make, create and maintain attractive, safe, and healthy communities.

8. The aldermen support an SSA for Hyde Park because the program has been effective in other business corridors and a SSA would be beneficial to the larger community.

For more information, the presentation from the May 22 community meeting is available on the SECC website -- secc-chicago.org.

I look forward to sharing information about this program to our community and to earning community support for this SSA Program.

The tax would appear to be .625 on estimated market value (estimated by people as a minimum of 11% of current), with a standing cap of .95 for the 10 year duration. About an 11% at .65 above the current tax rate of c.5.5%. A chart of what each property would pay per year (for 10 years) was not at the May 22 meeting but may be placed on the SECC website. Maybe 3-5 buildings would be primarily residential, the rest commercial or mixed use.

Promotional description as published in the Herald May 22 from 4th Ward Ald. Will Burns, 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, South East Chicago Commission.

Special Service Area (SSA) Information

The goal of a Special Service Area designation in Hyde Park is to create and maintain a vibrant, pedestrian friendly business district that reflects the culture and history of Hyde Park, serving local stakeholders and attracting visitors.

Did you know a Special Service Area (SSA) Designation could provide te following services/amenities to our community?

WHY A SSA Designation?

To learn more please attend the SSA Community Meetings

Public meeting presentations on the SSA (May 22 2013)

James Poueymirou presided, welcomed.

Ald. Burns expressed is support and the ability to provide more services for the business corridor.

Ald. Hairston cited her experiences with TIFs (and their drawbacks), testing ways to deal with absentee landlords, and SSAs- an indispensable tool for consistent and sustainable program, generally things for which there is no other source of money and which can include uniform signage, marketing and unique programs like Cleanslate. It puts control in the hands of communities.

P. introduced the committee members, who said why they supported and what skin they had in the game.
Cassel of MAC- $60,000 cost fo his properties. Can market communty, cleanup, do things together.
Swain of Kimbark- $ the plaza $10,000, his business 11. Parking and traffic.
Dr. Temple-Reynolds, optometrist- needs the services on 55th, esp. to handle parking
McGarry- Bank- $34,000. Opportunity to plow money back. Jones- similar
Cocagne- Harper Court- $130,000 a year or a quarter the income to SSA. A chance to give back
Rumsey- increase to his business rent likely but strongly supports.

Consultant for city Kimberly Bears gave a city powerpoint presentation

This is a taxing program- a new tax will be imposed- it is not a diversion of preexisting and itself cannot be diverted elsewhere. It will show on the tax bill and wil not be use for the city's services.
It has to be locally initiated and with aldermanic support but not a program of an organization- has its own commission plus an administrative agency

What the money has been spent on the 47 city SSAs
Sanitation and cleanup, help with policing, rehabilitate ex offenders, lease vacancies and use for useful purposes such a parking, free Wi-Fi, bring in and serve visitors, community advocacy, master planning, focus accountability, leverage thi

There are currently 47 SSAs in the city (first set up in 1977 and have increased 70% in the past 10 years), with 40 service (admin) providers- some service more than one SSA), 350+ commissioners.
They spent $27 million in 2012.
The chain is (various city and county departments and agencies) > the service provider agreement > commission > the provider agency > subcontractors. The commission must be 100% local people with not more than one third overlap with board and staff of the provider agency.

There are 9 buckets of allowable expenditures (8 excluding construction, which is now frowned upon) some of which are under strict guidelines.
Public Way Aesthetics (can include snow etc. equipment, big belly compactors)
Public Way Maintenance
Safety Programs (incl. foot and bike patrols)
advertising and Promotion
Facade Improvements (much simpler procedure than the one that is confined to TIFs)
Parking/transit/Accessibility (ranges from owning/operating a garage through trolleys, shuttles, bike racks, lot rental/share)
District Planning
Tenant Attraction and Retention
Other Technical Assistance/ Outreach and communications including website development (ex. Bucktown)

The commission, appointed by the alderman, is subject to the open meetings and open communication ordinances.

Some common terms:
Tax Rate Cap (city average is .50)- set for the 10 year life of the SSA
Annual Tax Rate (set annually, cannot exceed the cap)
EVA Equalized Assessed Valuation of properties (set by the County)
The Levy (city average is 1.3% of EAV)
Carry Over (that's allowed but can't be excessive- city will require either spenddown or will lower the levy)

Budget = income from the Levy + Carryover
Levy = Rate X EAV

Applicable legislation
Illinois SSA Law
City ordinances
Open Meetings Act
FOIA (Freedom of Information)
Government Ethics Ordinance (includes subjection of commissioners to background checks and certain rules on convictions, no debt obligation to the city, no unpaid child support.
The city ordinance creating and governing that SSA- passed by city ordinance after initial review, community meeting and hearing with recommendation of the alderman (en)

The process includes establishment of boundary, term (10 years),establishment of cap, establishment and vetting of commission, parallel vetting by Housing and Economic Development (HED), drafting of management agreement between SSA and HED (subject to passage of ordinance). Once established, the Commission can pass (and submit to HED and city council?) a annual levy ordinance.

The Open Meetings requirement includes public notice- 10 day notice in a newspaper of what-when-where-agenda (public input is required into agenda)
Minutes- full and must be accessible to the public. Closed session minutes must also be kept and retained.

FOIA request go to HED, with 7 days to reply. Reply is "expected."

The commission- range is 6-16 seats, the average is 9. They met monthly at first, then settle down to quarterly (minimum expectation). Usual officers at chair, secretary, treasurer. No more than 1/3 may be on the administrating agency board- and 0 is recommended.
Administrating agencies are usually Chamber of Commerce, expected to be nonprofits. The staffing setup varies.

Timetable of setup: Suppose want to start in 2014.
Letter of interest would be sent in fall 2012. From then to the submission of application (due June 2013) would be spent on research, organization (via advisory committee and prospective agency), documentation, and public input.
October to December 2013 negotiation, and drafting and passage of the ordinance followed by creation of the commission
January 2014 the SSA would be declared to have begun and the commission and agency can start to operate
Fall 2014 would be the first tax levy- billed, collected, distributed to the SSA.

SSA accountability
There is no porting to other SSAs or taxing bodies
Annually audited
Must be internal controls
(something tat starts with r)
Open meetings - FOIA and as above
Performance measures
Alderman and City Council and state legislation supersede (commissioners serve at Ald. will)
The SSA can be renewed after its 10 year term with review
No pay or compensation or in-kind allowed

Teams of 2 or 3 then walked the audience through sections of the Advisory Committee's PowerPoint
(the powerpoint will be in secc-chicago.org)

Stressed that is was done by locals and "organically grown". The aldermen asked SECC to do the set up and invite the prospective members of the committee. (Noted that the commission will have a director, who cannot bed either as commissioner or a board member of SECC)
Southeast side locator map
A time line of progress to May 22/30 2013.
The committee started meeting in March and many times since, often having to revisit issues and maps and really trying to do what people would expect. One vexing issue was the CAP- to have it markedly lower than most SSA's but keep it flexible in case of another steep slide or revision in property values or assessments. They worked on the rate, mission, budget, needs assessment (including the survey and visiting businesses), public meetings.
Time line going forward. Incorporate feedback from meetings. Property and business owners apply to be on commission. Application is submitted. City schedules public hearing for the fall. Process starts for the ordinance and organization targeting effect January 2014.

Why an SSA?


To enhance and maintain a vibrant, pedestrian friendly, neighborhood commercial district that reflects the culture and history of Hyde Park, serving local stakeholders and attracting visitors.

Boundaries. (The maps shown so far are color-coded showing process and types of property - some were dropped.)

HP SSA Boundaries [the numbers given are inclusive]

Requirements and goals taken into account in determining boundaries
contiguity- no skips
that it's to serve business primarily and to capture as much of the main business district as possible- core of 53rd St. and what of Lake Park and 55th is practical (90-95% are commercial or mixed use buildings)
leave out a many residences as possible, especially single-residences and buildings/areas in which businesses are incidental or no nonprofit/tax exempt
how much income it brings in vs costs to extend services there (for example Nichols Park was excluded)
do properties at the edge really want it?
terms and designations of the tax code

How the included properties fit into classes: Tax exempt- 0, Vacant -.9%, Residential 3.4%, Mixed use- 29%, Non profit 0, Commercial 65.3, Residential incentive- 0. Commercial + Mixed = 94.3.
A detailed breakdown was provided by class, number of PINs, EAV, and numerical derived percentage. Of the $46,076,306 of EAV in the boundary.

Budget comparison. The average program breakdown total city SSA budgets ($26.3 million)
26% Public Way Aesthetics
23% Public Way Maintenance
17% Safety Programs
14% Advertising and Promotion

7% Facade Improvements
5% Parking/transit/Accessibility
3% District Planning
2% Tenant Attraction and Retention
1% Other Technical Assistance

Needs assessment. Survey and discussions showed people are least happy with parking, including that development is addressing the problem. (The chart showed the least-satisfied categories were parking, branding, and business assistance)
Which describes you? over half bus manager/owner in boundary;, rest residents, property owners or stakeholders outside the boundaries . More rent than own.
How long at location- 5% each 1-5, 6-10, 11-20, 10% over 21 years.

(Noted that we are stuck with using the EAV set when the 53rd St. TIF was set up in 2001.):
Total EAV 60 million. 1/4 of property tax revenue doesn't go to the SSA but tot eh TIF as increments.
If the rate is .65 of EAV (most use .95) then $300,000 is the total SSA income from one year assessment - $94,000 going to the TIF. With TIF giving that $94,000 back, it's nearly 400,00, so can program more. PRESENTERS EMPHASIZED THAT THE RATE WILL BE .65, 2/3 OF AVERAGE SSAs AND THE CAP .95 ALSO 2/3 OF THE EAVERAGE 1.6. )

What are respondents least satisfied with- parking (and a feeling that development was not addressing this).
What service not provided by the city would you pay for on a shared cost basis? Parking (60%) with some support for safety and for planning

Developing the budget

2-fold input: needs + local tolerance for spending > budget < EAV x rate

Suggested budget after TIF gives the SSA part of its distribution

Advertising and promotion $50,000 (+TIF $10,000)
Public Way maintenance $40,000
Pubic Way aesthetics $40,000
Tenant retention/attraction 0 (+TIF $10,000)
Facade 0
Parking/transp/accessibility $64,146 (+TIF $34,720)
Safety $5,000 (+TIF $15,000)
District planning $5,000 (+TIF $15,000)
Other technical asst. 0

Personnel $66,000
Admin non personnel $19,350
Loss collection $15,000

Total $299,496, or $394,216 with TIF.
Without the TIF addition, Programs would be about 2/3, personnel about 20%, total admin and loss about a third.
With TIF nearly 3/4 goes to Programs, with Parking/Tr/Acc gaining the most.

Why the difference between the rate and the cap- because, for example, assessment plunged a third last year.

Who pays? 68% from commercial, 27% from mixed use buildings. There is a table breaking down for each class of property EAV before and after TIF, EAV into dollars, and average payment. Average residential condo would pay $268 per year or $22 a month. One story commercial would pay $3,888 per year or $324 a month.

Impact of SA on property taxes Other bodies 5.455 + SSA .65 = 6.105 . Additional SSA tax is 10.6%

Comparison table of this SSA with 5 others; comparison of rates and caps between these.

Scenarios table with varying budget growth and EAV growth. In all of these the .95 cap is sufficiently above the minimum cap needed.


Seems to bed SSA can carry out some goals better than TIF can. How often do TIF and SSA's overlap? Almost always. It can cause rivalries. Need alderman together on it because city doesn't like to be transferring funds.

Is the sign-off from TIF needed every year. (Heard "yes" but there seems to be confusion)

Alderman's priority/commitment- Already has a task force looking at parking-transportation-accessibility.

Need to have available a spread sheet on what each PIN would pay assuming the rate is .65. (Person has to know their PIN number) (Is available on SECC site)

Criticism of lack of notice and thinness of needs assessment. (More meetings, have talked with nearly all at least businesses in the district)

Don't see value for the residences included. (Disputed)

Support, like having two aldermen involved.

Public comments in blogs, letters etc. Some oppose a tax hike even if it's for services etc. not presently provided. There are concerns about inclusion of residences (which the SSA committee seeks to address). There are disagreements over uses, with some saying snow removal and branding are things the businesses should do by themselves, or opposing planters, festivals etc. ("branding). Several are stressing the main idea should be to address parking and mobility. TAKING THE SURVEY (which as of late May had few responses) WILL HELP SET PRIORITIES AND WANTS.

George Rumsey wrote c June 1 to Good Neighbors (where tons of views are posted):

Hi, ... All Good Neighbors.

As one who's been participating in this endeavor, let me try to explain why the survey is important.

The Special Service Area (SSA) will be managed by a board of commissioners recommended by the aldermen (both 4th and 5th) and appointed by the mayor. They will be in charge of a budget of something around $400,000. The survey is all about WHERE THAT MONEY NEEDS TO BE SPENT.

If you've followed the history of the 53rd Street TIF, you know it was originally established to help raise funds to solve the long-term parking problems of 53rd Street, as well as providing some supplemental support to local schools. Those funds are now all allocated towards Harper Court redevelopment and 51st Street/City Hyde Park redevelopment.

Parking and related issues remain. The only solution is to find the funding to solve the problems, hence the exploration of a Special Service Area. The SECC is the sponsoring agency, at the request of the aldermen (it's usually a chamber of commerce or similar), but the SECC will not control the use of the funds. That's up to the SSA board of commissioners (yet to be named).

The current advisory committee has been meeting for four months, to identify the area to be included and to prioritize needs. The area has been whittled to 53rd on Woodlawn toward the lake (still up for discussion), Lake Park from 52nd to 55th, and 55th from the Hyde Park Shopping Center to Hyde Park Blvd. That's the area to be impacted by the proposed property tax increase. There are currently 3 buildings in that area that are condos--and we are exploring ways at this moment to exclude those, if possible under state law (the state statute mandates that an SSA must include contiguous properties, and that's a problem, given our neighborhood's mix of residential and business, but we're working on it).

My goal in joining the advisory committee has been to emphasize the problems of parking. I have a business on 53rd Street, and I lose customers because they don't want to come here. If they're from surrounding neighborhoods, the problem is "parking is expensive and limited." If they're from the suburbs, the problem is "Is it safe?" These issues MUST be addressed, if the new development in HP is to work.

For example, here are three possible semi-solutions to parking issues on 53rd:

1. Build a new lot. Possible locations could be 53rd/Cornell, behind the HP Bank Building, and 53rd/Dorchester (currently a surface lot owned by the UofC).
2. Valet parking. Rent space from local facilities, when they aren't in prime use. Examples would be the parking lots at Rodfei Zedek, St. Thomas, and Kenwood Academy.
3. Lease parking within the new Harper Court development to make available for a short term (at cheap or free rates) to patrons of the theater, the new restaurants, or clients of the HP Bank.

There are solutions, but they aren't free. This proposal isn't about flower planters or snow removal (those might be secondary benefits, but are NOT the main concern). And it is EXTREMELY important for the community to communicate their concerns about such priorities.

And don't forget another major concern expressed by Hyde Parkers over the last decade: There's STILL no place to buy underwear in Hyde Park!

(others added other ways to address the parking/mobility issue or noted that a garage or even lot is highly expensive)




There's a new team in Hyde Park, aimed at boosting and strengthening our business district. The Special Service Area #61 has been planned for over a year, and is now up and functioning, with City Council confirmation, a set of bylaws, and an approved budget.

What is an SSA and why do we need one?

First, do NOT get it confused with a TIF. An SSA is a property taxing body, which of course none of us like. BUT any funds raised via the SSA must be spent on improvements within the SSA boundaries, and cannot be transferred to other bodies or given to developers. It must be spent within our district on business improvements, marketing, maintenance, and aesthetics.

As a local business owner, I knew I was likely voting to raise my rent when I supported the formation of an SSA. But the advisory committee worked extremely diligently to exclude all home owners and condo or co-op associations, so it really does impact mainly businesses (yes, some rental properties). The gains will be worth it, we hope.

The SSA is overseen by a commission (see below for members), who hold public meetings on the 4th Wednesday of each month to discuss the budget and projects. The next meeting will be Wednesday, June 25, at 7:00 pm (every third month meets in the evening; other months meet at 11:00 am), in the conference room at the Hyatt Place hotel at 52nd and Harper.


The SSA Commission is ably chaired by Mike McGarry, president of Hyde Park Bank. I'm honored to serve as vice-chair. Mary Rogel (East Point Associates) is the secretary, and Donna Trainor (The UPS Store) is treasurer. Other members include Anthony Fox (Hyde Park Theater), Greg Guttman (MAC Properties), James Hanson (Mesa Development), Allison Hartman (DARE president), James Hennessy (University of Chicago), Jackie Jackson (Kilwin's), and Charles Newsome (Kimbark Plaza). Commissioners were nominated by Aldermen Burns and Hairston and approved by the City Council (and, no, there is no pay for being an SSA commissioner).

Our contracted "service provider" is the South East Chicago Commission (Wendy Walker Williams, Executive Director, and Eric Reeves, SSA Director). Meeting updates and program details will be posted online at the SECC website.


The SSA Commission is ably chaired by Mike McGarry, president of Hyde Park Bank. I'm honored to serve as vice-chair. Mary Rogel (East Point Associates) is the secretary, and Donna Trainor (The UPS Store) is treasurer. Other members include Anthony Fox (Hyde Park Theater), Greg Guttman (MAC Properties), James Hanson (Mesa Development), Allison Hartman (DARE president), James Hennessy (University of Chicago), Jackie Jackson (Kilwin's), and Charles Newsome (Kimbark Plaza). Commissioners were nominated by Aldermen Burns and Hairston and approved by the City Council (and, no, there is no pay for being an SSA commissioner).

Our contracted "service provider" is the South East Chicago Commission (Wendy Walker Williams, Executive Director, and Eric Reeves, SSA Director). Meeting updates and program details will be posted online at the SECC website.

(NOTE- A MAP IS INCLUDED. Ask George if you would like to see it. rumsey@aol.com.