7 measures to improve areas of Chicago


CHICAGO — City Council introduced a series of measures Wednesday aimed at addressing a number of city projects, developments and ordinances during their last general assembly meeting of the year.

On top of approving funding for a long anticipated expansion of the CTA Red Line, the measures also included approving the zoning ordinance for Bally’s Chicago Casino in River West, business grant program proposals and licensing enhancements, affordable housing complex proposals, and expansion of the City’s Bodily Autonomy Ordinance.

Transit TIF district approved to financially support CTA Red Line Expansion

A new Transit Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district approved by City Council Wednesday will look to provide a little over a quarter of the funding needed for the CTA’s planned $3.6 billion Red Line Expansion project from 95th Street to 130th Street on the Far South Side, according to a press release provided by the Mayor’s office.

The adopted TIF legislation includes three measures that will generate up to $959 million in local funds for eligible costs involving Red Line Expansion construction and administration. The measures include:

  • The designation of a RLE (Red Line Expansion) Transit Facility Improvement Area (TFIA), where TIF revenues can be spent on the project, including property located within 1/2 mile of existing and proposed Red Line tracks between Madison Street in the Loop and 130th Street on the Far South Side where the expansion is planned to extend.
  • The designation of a R.L.E. Redevelopment Project Area (RPA) where new property tax growth will provide TIF assistance for the project. The RPA includes 7,726 parcels on approximately 1,445 acres of land located within 1/2 mile of Red Line tracks between Madison Street and Pershing Road.
  • The adoption of a RLE TIF Redevelopment Plan, which outlines the project scope, budget and use of TIF funds.

The 5.6-mile RLE project includes four new commuter stations south of 95th Street at 103rd Street near Eggleston Avenue, 111th Street near Eggleston Avenue, Michigan Avenue near 116th Street, and 130th Street near the Altgeld Gardens public housing complex. Plans also include park-and-ride facilities at each station and a new railcar storage and maintenance facility at 120th Street.

The creation of the Transit TIF will also allow the City to leverage up to $2.2 billion in federal Transit Administration funding for the RLE. The project has already received $30 million through the US Department of Transportation and the CTA is pursuing additional federal, state, county and Regional Transportation Authority funding to support the RLE, according to the Mayor’s Office.

City Council approves zoning ordinance for Bally’s Chicago Casino

City Council voted to approve the zoning ordinance for Chicago’s first-ever casino Wednesday.

The ordinance passed with a 39-5 majority vote, allowing for a hotel, theater, event center, Riverwalk and 4,000 gaming positions to be built at the site of the old Chicago Tribune Freedom Center publishing plant.

The $1.7 billion complex in River West now awaits final approval from the Illinois Gaming Board.

City support proposed for new grocery store within former CTA Wilson Station

The City Council approved $5.8 million in Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) assistance for the revitalization of Uptown’s historic Gerber Building as a full-service grocery store Wednesday.

Built in 1923, the 13,000-square-foot Beaux Arts structure that functioned as the primary entrance to the CTA’s Wilson Avenue Station has been vacant since a 2015 station modernization shifted the stations main entrance to an adjacent block. The one-story structures $11.7 million reuse as a Chicago Market grocery store will feature a variety of exterior and interior improvements that will include the restoration of historic finishes and decorative features that contribute to the building’s presence within the City’s Uptown Square Historic District.

Grant program proposed through Mayor Lightfoot’s ‘LaSalle Reimagined’ initiative

A $5 million grant program incentivizing businesses to open up in Chicago’s financial district along LaSalle Street was proposed to City Council Wednesday through Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s ‘LaSalle Reimagined’ initiative.

The grant program would aim to foster mixed-used diversity on LaSalle Street between Court Place and Van Buren Street, with the City’s Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) program would provide grants of up to $250,000 for projects that activate ground-level storefronts, lobbies and former banking floors with pedestrian-oriented commercial and cultural uses.

Affordable housing apartment complexes proposed in East Garfield Park, Logan Square

Garfield Green — a 43-unit affordable housing apartment complex designed for sustainable living in East Garfield Park — would be developed in the 3100 block of West Fifth Avenue through financial measures introduced Wednesday to City Council by Lightfoot.

Planned by Preservation of Affordable Housing, the $37.7 million first phase of Garfield Green would include a mix of one to three bedroom units with 4,500 square feet of ground floor commercial space. All units would be made affordable to tenants earning up to 80% of area median income.

Financial measures introduced by Lightfoot to City Council Wednesday would also support the development of Encuentro Square — an 89-unit affordable apartment development at the western edge of the 606 Trail in Logan Square.

The $67.5 million first phase of Encuentro Square consisting of two buildings, a four-story structure located in the 3700 block of West Courtland Street and a six-story structure in the 1800 block of North Ridgeway Avenue, would include a mix of one to three bedroom units.

Thirty-four of the residential units would be rented to households who make up to 60% of the area median income, with the remaining units offered to Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) tenants and supported by project-based vouchers for the next 20 years.

City Council introduces Bodily Autonomy 2.0 Ordinance

Lightfoot, Alderwoman Maria Hadden (49th Ward), Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward), Alderwoman Rossana Sanchez (33rd Ward) and Alderman Matt Martin (47th Ward) introduced the Bodily Autonomy 2.0 ordinance Wednesday.

The proposed ordinance seeks to prohibit discrimination and retaliation against an individual who has received reproductive healthcare or gender-affirming care in the context of employment, as well as in housing. More so, the proposed ordinance seeks to prevent employers from accessing a worker’s personal health information on reproductive healthcare or gender affirming care without their affirmative written consent to further protect against discrimination or retaliation.

The proposed ordinance would build on the initial Bodily Autonomy ordinance passed by City Council in September, which prohibits any City department or agency from participating in any investigation or proceeding related to reproductive and gender-affirming care led by another jurisdiction, including anti-abortion states.

Under the new proposed ordinance, the Chicago Commission on Human Relations (CCHR) has jurisdiction over investigating complaints of discrimination or retaliation in the context of housing and shares joint jurisdiction with the Office of Labor Standards at the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) for complaints related to discrimination or retaliation in the workplace.

Mayor Lightfoot introduces enhancement for urban agriculture business licensing

Lightfoot and BACP introduced an ordinance Wednesday to support the business activities of urban agriculture.

The proposed Urban Agriculture Business License Enhancement (UABLE) ordinance aims to reduce barriers that exist for growers to sell their produce. With the proposed changes under the ordinance, community gardens and urban farms would be able to sell whole uncut, unprocessed produce directly to community residents, restaurants, private food stores and wholesalers from an on-site permanent produce stand.

Chicago’s urban grower community includes entrepreneurs, social enterprises and community-based projects, and there is not a standalone license tailored to the sector’s business needs, the Mayor’s Office said. According to the Mayor’s Office, the UABLE ordinance would help rectify that.

For more information on other measures introduced to City Council Wednesday, you can visit the City’s website here.

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