March 13, 2019

TIF Would Expand, Rebuild North Branch Infrastructure For the 21st Century


Infrastructure financing proposals introduced to City Council today by Mayor Rahm Emanuel would help transform a portion of the North Branch Industrial Corridor into a vibrant, mixed-use waterfront with tens of thousands of new jobs, hundreds of new affordable homes and transportation improvements for all of Chicago.

The first proposal would designate the Cortland/Chicago River TIF District to help finance the infrastructure priorities of the “North Branch Framework” plan, which was adopted by the Chicago Plan Commission in May 2017 to guide mixed-use development within the industrial corridor.

The Cortland/Chicago River TIF District would include 168 acres of largely vacant land along the North Branch of the Chicago River between North Avenue and Webster Street, where it would provide up to $900 million in funding for public works projects and other public benefits. The funding would be generated by tax growth, or increment, that’s fueled by new redevelopment projects within its boundaries. Considered “blighted” under state statute, the district includes the former Finkl steel site and former City of Chicago fleet headquarters.

The other proposal would allocate up to $490 million in Cortland/Chicago River TIF District increment for the construction of new bridges at Dominick Street, Armitage Avenue, and Concord Place; the reconstruction of the Armitage and Elston Avenue intersection; several new roadways; repairs to local river walls; and an extension of The 606 trail across the Chicago River.

The work would be completed through a redevelopment agreement with developer Sterling Bay, which would finance and construct each infrastructure component as part of its planned “Lincoln Yards” development. Following completion of each TIF-eligible improvement, Sterling Bay would be reimbursed through future property tax growth.

Lincoln Yards is a $6 billion, 54-acre project that is anticipated to generate 34,000 jobs and 6,000 new homes over the next 20 years, including 1,200 affordable units, 21 acres of park space, and nearly $100 million in associated development fees for local improvements. The project also includes approximately $300 million in new infrastructure paid by Sterling Bay that is not eligible for TIF reimbursements.

Both financing proposals were approved by the Community Development Commission in February.




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