Yesterday’s meeting of Chicago’s Community Development Commission approved measures to provide monetary assistance for a pair of new developments that will bring needed investment to both the Little Italy and East Garfield Park neighborhoods. Tax Increment Financing—or TIF—is a value capture mechanism used by many cities to subsidize the infrastructure and real estate development in blighted areas with property tax revenue collected over a 23-year period.
First up was a combination library/affordable housing project slated for 1350 W. Taylor Street in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood. One of three such “co-locating” efforts to combine new civic space with mixed-income apartments, the Roosevelt Square Branch Library from the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), Chicago Public Libraries, private developer Related Midwest, and architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) will receive $7.1 million in TIF monies.
Expected to go before the Chicago Plan Commission on August 17th for zoning approval, the development was presented at a community meeting last week with an updated, larger design. Originally envisioned as a four-story structure consisting of a library topped by roughly 40 units of low-income housing, the plan—which is still subject to change—has grown to seven stories and will now feature 73 dwellings.
While some neighbors at the meeting expressed a desire to see a smaller building with a diminished or even zero low-income housing component, DNAinfo reported that the development team made the argument that a stand-alone library was not financially feasible. While the final price tag for the project was not made available, the newly-authorized TIF payments will only cover one-third of its cost. Federal tax credits and funds from CHA are expected to make-up much of the remainder.
The Community Development Commission also voted in favor of allocating $7 million in TIF money for an innovative food incubator in the West Side’s East Garfield Park community. Known as The Hatchery, the 67,000-square-foot development is designed to bring 75 to 100 growing food entrepreneurs—and new jobs—to a vacant, city-owned lot at Lake Street and Kedzie Avenue just off the Green Line. The CDC also authorized the disposition of the parcel to The Hatchery for just $1.
Like the library on Taylor Street, the TIF money will only fund a portion of the $30 million project. Developed as a joint venture between the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago and Accion Chicago, The Hatchery will see additional funds come from a variety of sources including donations from food industry giants such as Conagra and Kellogg.