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Uptown in the News  

May 23, 2007
Crain’s Chicago Business On-line
City set to boost subsidy for Wilson Yard project
By Eddie Baeb

The city is poised to increase its subsidy for the long-delayed Wilson Yard development in Uptown to offset rising construction costs for the project, which is to include a Target store and 178 units of affordable housing.

The Daley administration agreed to raise the subsidy to $43.1 million from $35.6 million in a deal that goes before the Chicago City Council on Wednesday and would allow construction to begin no later than July. Costs for the 5-acre development are now expected to be about $150 million. In addition to rising costs, the Wilson Yard project has endured the pullout of a movie theater and concerns that Target might walk over the controversial "big-box” ordinance.

Since the original redevelopment agreement was struck with the city in December 2005, the project's costs have jumped 15% to $150.1 million, primarily because of rising construction costs.

The administration has agreed to raise its TIF (tax-increment financing) subsidy to help offset the increased costs. The project's developer, an affiliate of Holsten Development Corp., agreed to defer some of its fees until the completion, now planned for 2009.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. has an agreement to buy its 180,000-square-foot store. The additional retail component involves moving the existing Aldi grocery store to an adjacent site, where the discount grocer is to open next week, Mr. Holsten says.

The project's residential component includes two apartment buildings, one with 80 units of affordable housing for families and another with 98 units of affordable housing for the elderly. Plans also call for a multi-level parking garage that can accommodate 382 cars and an additional 173-car surface parking lot.

Kerasotes Showplace Theatres LLC last year dropped its plan for a 12-screen movie theater, citing the high construction costs of plans to build the theater atop the Target store. Mr. Holsten says the economics of the theater didn't work, and that its withdrawal meant parking could be downsized from the original plan, which called for a 700-car garage.

Mr. Holsten says he's confident the City Council will approve plans for Wilson Yard when it votes Wednesday, which he says would put completion at about 22 to 24 months from now. .

To view the entire article for a fee, please visit the Crain's website at www.chicagobusiness.com.

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