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Uptown in the News  

January 24, 2008
Medill News
Transfer tax may blunt Uptown’s economic boom
By (John Riley)

Depending on your perspective, the former Wilson yard at West Montrose Avenue and North Broadway is either a sign of a promising economic future or an eyesore exemplifying urban blight

For years the yard, adjacent to the Wilson el stop in Uptown was used as a repair and storage site by the CTA. It now stands empty and vacant.

With the push for development in Uptown, many wonder how businesses that might consider locating in the Wilson Yard will react to a proposed increase in the real estate transfer tax.

The tax is levied on all industrial and commercial property in Chicago. The fate of the proposed increase will determine which vision of the Wilson yard becomes reality.

The increase in the tax, which would charge buyers of property $10.50 for every $1,000 of sale price, was approved by the Illinois legislature as a way to subsidize the Chicago Transit Authority’s undefended pension system. Because the tax applies only to properties within the city the city council must approve it.

The current transfer tax, paid by the buyer, is $7.50 per every $1,000 of sale price. Sellers pay the county and state transfer tax of $1.50 for every $1,000. That number would remain unchanged under the proposal.

For years, the Wilson yard has been a target by developers hoping to gentrify an area that, until recently, had few prosperous businesses. In 2001, the city created a tax increment financing, or TIF, district to help spur economic development. The CTA sold the Wilson Yard property to the city, which has plans to locate a Target or similar “big box” store.

To view the entire article, please visit the Medill website at www.news.medill.northwestern.edu/Chicago/news.

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