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Ousted alderman pitches ‘Howard Yards’ development in April Fools’ email

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Is Joe Moore’s joke clever satire or a tone-deaf mockery of the issues that cost him his City Council seat?

The so-called “Howards Yards” project would replace the Hello Howard Community Garden at Howard Street and Ashland Avenue.
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Just weeks before he is set to leave office, outgoing Alderman Joe Moore sent out an April Fools’ Day email to 49th Ward residents describing a satirical Rogers Park development proposal dubbed “Howard Yards.”

Envisioned for the corner of Howard Street and Ashland Avenue, Moore’s far fetched proposal from developer “Boris Badenov” included a Live Nation roller derby venue, an Elon Musk hyperloop, and a rooftop community garden growing legalized marijuana. The project would forgo tax increment financing (TIF) and instead rely on a “50/50 raffle” and locate half its of affordable housing in the Gold Coast, according to the email, posted in its entirety here.

“As I want this amazing development to be a part of my enduring legacy, I have placed the development proposal on a fast track to lock it in before the end of my term as alderman,” wrote Moore, in an apparent dig at the controversial Lincoln Yards project critics say has been rushed through City Hall ahead of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s departure in May.

Moore’s attempt at April 1 humor may not have everyone laughing—especially in the 49th Ward where, under the alderman’s watch, “gentrification has become a fact of life,” observed the Chicago Reader in January. Meanwhile massive megadevelopments and their use of TIF money, as well as ongoing debates regarding affordable housing and Elon Musk’s O’Hare Express, are serious conversations for Chicago’s next mayor and city council.

Joe Moore, an incumbent of 28 years and chairman of the city’s Committee on Housing and Real Estate, was defeated by political newcomer Maria Hadden in the February election. Hadden described Moore as out of touch with ward residents, especially when it came to gentrification, affordable housing, and displacement. Based on the outgoing alderman’s notion of an April Fools’ joke, does Hadden had a point?