Towards the end of Richard M. Daley's tenure as Mayor of Chicago, as Millennium Park was taking shape, Park Grill—the park's anchor restaurant—signed a sweetheart deal with the city to be classified as a 'concessions vendor,' which means no property taxes, garbage collection fees, or gas and water fees. And now, in a lawsuit filed by Mayor Emanuel (Park Grill's third such lawsuit in ten years), lawyers are claiming that the vendor owes taxpayers $8 million, the Chicago Sun Times reports.
The lawsuit's defendants, the Chicago Park District and Park Grill operator Millennium Park Joint Venture, claim that if City Hall wins, both the Park District and the City of Chicago will owe the restaurant $13.6 million, which is what Park Grill would have made if they went through on their plan to sell to restaurant group Levy Restaurants four years ago. But with its constantly embroiled legal history, which has so far cost taxpayers $4.1 million in legal fees, such a sale would never have been tenable. For City Hall, the question is clear: the restaurant's tax-free deal should be rendered invalid because the park district never had the legal authority to grant a concession agreement without permission from city council. And as Chicagoist reports, City Hall attorneys worry that if the agreement isn't terminated, it could end up costing the city an additional $25 million.
The Park Grill controversy may finally come to an end on May 22nd when Judge Moshe Jacobius hears closing arguments for the case. Meanwhile, Park Grill's 'concessions' remains open for business.
·City: Park Grill operators should pay taxpayers $8 million [Sun-Times]
·City Hall Lawyers Claim Park Grill Owes More Than $8 Million To Taxpayers From "Sweetheart Deal" [Chicagoist]
·Previous Millennium Park coverage [Curbed Chicago]