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Uptown in the News  

April 27, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times
CTA selling Wilson Yard well below market rate
By David Roeder, Sun-Times columnist

CTA officials were in Springfield on Tuesday looking for money. They need it, considering how they mismanage real estate assets.

The transit agency has agreed to sell to a developer, with the city as an intermediary, its Wilson Yard site at Broadway and Montrose. The overall 5.7 acre site is going for $6.8 million and includes property not CTA-owned. Most of it is, however, and the price per square foot works out to around $40.

Experts in the Uptown property market said the property went way too cheap. A check of recent land sales in the area showed an average sales price of $75 a square foot. The site will be turned over to developers who plan 141 subsidized homes, a Target, Aldi and movie theaters in a projected $113 million complex.

City officials defend the price as matching an appraised value and allowing for construction of "affordable" housing. But the site, bounded by two busy commercial streets and the CTA Red Line, wouldn't exactly be the quietest place to live.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has refused to back a senior high-rise at the site, causing one developer to back out of the project.

The CTA played along with Uptown politics and paid for it. If it advertised for the highest bidder years ago, it would have its money, probably more of it, and Uptown would have a new retail anchor for a decrepit commercial strip.

To view the entire article for a fee, please visit the Chicago Sun-Times website at www.suntimes.com.

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