North Lawndale Shows Signs of a Faded Revitalization

Banners left over from Richard M. Daley’s time as mayor hang over Ogden Avenue west of Keeler Avenue on Feb. 17, 2015, in the North Lawndale neighborhood. (Anthony Souffle, Chicago Tribune)


Mary Schmich wrote the following column for the Chicago Tribune on February 18, 2015. The area in question is in the Ogden-Pulaski TIF, which didn’t exist back in the mid 1990’s.  At the time the banners were created, the area was serviced by the Roosevelt-Cicero TIF, just a block or so north.

Out in the far western ranges of the city, on a stark street flanked by vacant lots and tired brick buildings, there are banners hanging on the lampposts to herald the mayor of Chicago. You know his name. Richard M. Daley.

The first time I saw the banners, a few months ago, I drove around the block and passed by a second time, slowly, just to make sure I’d seen what I thought I’d seen. Sure enough, there along Ogden Avenue, between Keeler Avenue and Pulaski Road in the North Lawndale neighborhood, four years after Rahm Emanuel took over the job, “Richard M. Daley, Mayor” still presides from the streetlight poles.

One of the banners, which features an artsy image of a man in overalls carrying a big wrench, also proclaims a dream that never came to pass: “Industrial Revival on Chicago’s West Side.”

It’s hard to imagine that in more prosperous parts of town — Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Wicker Park, Hyde Park — such outdated banners would still be flying. It’s hard  to imagine that if any current City Hall power broker had traveled down that stretch of Ogden and seen them they would be. More


North Lawndale TIF Projects in the News 2013, 2014

The following press releases, unless otherwise noted, are from the City of Chicago’s website.
October 8, 2014

TIF Will Support North Lawndale Hospital Improvements


Mount Sinai Hospital. Photo Credit: Mount
Mount Sinai Hospital. Photo Credit: Mount

A $100 million hospital improvement project by Sinai Health Systems (SHS) will be supported with up to $31 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) assistance under a plan approved today by City Council.

The assistance will support the rehabilitation of SHS’s Mt. Sinai Hospital campus at 1500 S. Fairfield Ave. in North Lawndale. Planned to be completed over the next eight years, the improvements will enhance inpatient and outpatient care, increase the capacity of community services, and extend the useful life of the seven-building facility.

Located within the Midwest TIF district, Mt. Sinai operates as a 319-bed teaching, research and tertiary-care center that provides medical, surgical, behavioral health, therapeutic, and diagnostic services to the West Side. Founded in 1919, the hospital is one of only four Level 1 Trauma Center facilities in Chicago.

The TIF assistance will be provided in annual installments over the next nine years based on the completion of specific construction milestones. Planned construction projects include laboratory and radiology department renovations, power system upgrades, replacement of air handing equipment and hot water systems, hospital room upgrades, dialysis facility improvements, and the relocation of surgical intensive care facilities, among other projects.

Mt. Sinai and its affiliated clinics provide care for more than 300,000 individuals per year. The need for Mt. Sinai’s services has grown as other area hospitals have closed or altered services in recent years, including St. Anne’s Hospital, Cabrini Hospital, Sacred Heart Hospital, and Bethany Hospital.

With 4,100 full- and part-time employees, Mt. Sinai is the largest employer in North Lawndale and one of the largest private Medicaid providers in the State of Illinois. Approximately 92 percent of patients are covered only by Medicaid or Medicare, or are uninsured. The facility improvements would create 250 temporary construction jobs.

SHS also consists of Sinai Children’s Hospital, Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital, Sinai Medical Group, Sinai Community Institute, and Sinai Urban Health Institute, and Holy Cross Hospital.


April 30, 2014

New Social Services Complex Approved for North Lawndale


UCAN, a Chicago-based organization aimed at creating opportunities for the city's at-risk population, will begin construction on a 70-acre campus in Lawndale. (UCAN) | UCAN
UCAN, a Chicago-based organization aimed at creating opportunities for the city’s at-risk population, will begin construction on a 70-acre campus in Lawndale. (UCAN) | UCAN

The development of a new state-of-the-art youth social services campus at 3605 W. Fillmore St. in North Lawndale will be supported through $2.5 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) approved today by City Council.

The $34.4 million project by Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network (UCAN) will create a seven-acre campus for up to 70 abused and at-risk youth. Designed to provide clinical and counseling services, case management, and a variety of youth development programs, the campus will include a dormitory, classrooms, gymnasium, and offices.

Upon completion,UCAN will move from its current facility in North Center, retaining 216 full-time positions and creating 20 new jobs.

Founded in 1869, UCAN served nearly 14,000 young people and their families in 2013.

An article on the project also appeared in Huffington Post on March 30, 2013.

November 26, 2013

TIF Approved For North Lawndale Athletic Field


Site plan and specification for Douglas Park Athletic Field. Source: City of Chicago
Site plan and specification for Douglas Park Athletic Field. Source: City of Chicago

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) assistance in the amount of $2 million will reimburse the Chicago Park District for the recently completed construction of a running track and artificial turf field at Douglas Park, 1401 S. Sacramento Ave. in North Lawndale.

Used by students of nearby Collins Academy High School and community residents, the track and field are located in the northwest corner of the 218-acre park, which is named for former U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas. The balance of the $2.06 million project was financed by the Park District.



The Watchdogs: Tab for Jones College Prep could reach $127 million

I thank Bruce Crosby for sharing this article from today’s Chicago Sun-Times:

At $114 million, Jones College Prep already is the most expensive public high school ever built in Chicago.

And a dispute with Walsh Construction — a clout-heavy contractor whose City Hall connections stretch back to the late Mayor Richard J. Daley — could drive the final pricetag for the South Loop school even higher, to $127 million, records show.

Last summer, the Public Building Commission of Chicago rejected two bills totaling $13 million submitted by Walsh, the general contractor on the project, for cost overruns. More

New Year, New Information

It’s been a while since we’ve update the North Lawndale TIFs website. TIF lovers will be happy to know that we’re in the process of updating the website, including a format that is easier to navigate and new content. While you will notice some changes to the format immediately, we are still in the process of updating the content. If you are a subscriber to our blog, this means you will be getting more frequent updates as we enter more blog entries. This activity will die down somewhat once the site is brought back up to an acceptable level. We thank you for your patience, and look forward to an exciting new year with new information.

Taking Control of Our Economic Environment

Here is a copy of the presentation I did for the Chicago West Side Branch NAACP Community Concerns Panel. This was a part of their housing resource forum held on June 29, 2014. The presentation shares lessons learned from TIF advocacy in North Lawndale and covered the following: What tifs are, how they work, and their impact; Common TIF programs; Case study-Ogden Pulaski TIF in North Lawndale; Lessons learned

Valerie F. Leonard to Appear on the Bob Shaw Show

Valerie F. Leonard will be a guest on the Bob Shaw Show on December 28, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. on WVON, AM-1690 to talk about TIFs in Chicago. You may call in at 773-591-1690.

TIF Training Survey Results

TIF Training Survey Results by valeriefleonard

If you are interested in attending an upcoming TIF training, please, complete the form below.

TIF Reform? Not Yet

The following story was posted in Newstips by Curtis Black on September 1, 2011.

With the release of his TIF Reform Panel report, Mayor Emanuel may want to check “TIF reform” off his to-do list, but community activists who work on the issue say that would be highly premature.

“They’re talking about transparency as if that’s all we have to do,” said Sonia Kwon of the Raise Your Hand Coalition.  “Transparency and accountability are just tools to reform TIF.  I don’t see this as TIF reform.”

In any case, Emanuel’s panel skips “the first step in transparency” – listing TIF information on property tax bills, said Kwon.  “To know you are in a TIF district and how much of your tax money is going to TIF – that’s the first step.”

That was a major proposal of the Community TIF Task Force of the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group, which brought together dozens of community groups, said Jacqueline Leavy, former executive director of NCBG.  (It was also a major proposal of then-Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley, apparently forgotten when he reacted enthusiastically to the report this week.)Read the rest of this entry »

Mayor’s Task Force Plans TIF Overhaul, Adopts Some Ideas Recommended by the Lawndale Alliance

We congratulate the Mayor and Task Force for tackling this issue. We are especially pleased to know that they have adopted one of the Lawndale Alliance’s recommendations to implement the TIF program within the context of a comprehensive economic development plan with measurable goals and objectives. It is our hope that they can drill down to the community level and ensure participation from rank and file community residents and local business owners, who are most impacted financially and otherwise by these TIFs.

City Task Force Plans Major Overhaul of How TIF Funds Used                                  

Lawndale Alliance Public Comments, Handouts and Presentation

Lawndale Alliance Public Comments

Lawndale Alliance TIF Town Hall Meeting Presentation

Lawndale Alliance TIF Townhall Brainstorm

The Time for TIF Reform is Now

Chicago News Cooperative/New York Times Article:TIF Aided Public and Private Projects Almost Evenly, Analysis Shows

The Chicago News Cooperative did an excellent analysis of TIF expenditures and found a near equal split between public and private financial uses of the funds.  The article was carried on their own blog, and in the New York Times.  We encourage you to read both versions and follow the links in the articles.  We have provided excerpts from the New York Times article, and analyses from the Chicago New Cooperative blog. 

Article by Juan-Pablo Valez; Spatial and Financial Analyses by Steve Ravenscraft, Andrew Greenlee, Chris Cascarano and Juan-Pablo VelezFor years, former Mayor Richard M. Daley heard criticism that City Hall’s use of a particular economic development tool amounted to little more than a slush fund for him to subsidize corporate Chicago at the public’s expense. Mr. Daley invariably responded that he used plenty of the money generated by the tool, tax-increment financing or TIF (pronounced tiff) for schools, parks, elevated-train stations and other purely public pursuits across the city.

Now, as aides to Mayor Rahm Emanuel review the city’s use of TIF amid the backdrop of severe budget shortfalls, an analysis by the Chicago News Cooperative shows that TIF spending was allocated almost evenly between public works and subsidies for private interests.

Click here to continue reading the New York Times article. Click here to read a similar article from the Chicago News Cooperative blog.

Chicago News Cooperative Video Depicting Growth in TIF Revenues 1986-2009

Chicago News Cooperative Chart Depicting Breakdown of TIF Expenditures by Category