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City of Chicago approves TIF funds for larger Little Italy Library, West Side food incubator

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The two projects will take in more than $14 million in combined Tax Increment Financing money

An interior rendering of the Roosevelt Square Branch Library and Apartments.

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.

A rendering of the previous 4-story design.
The new, seven-story design.

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.

The Hatchery.
City of Chicago