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Uptown in the News  

Thursday, September 16, 2004
Globe St.com
City Helping $113M Wilson Yards Project
By Mark Ruda

A $113-million redevelopment of the Chicago Transit Authority's Wilson Yards property in the Uptown neighborhood will get $26.5 million in tax increment financing assistance. The financial package was endorsed Tuesday by the community development commission, despite protests from neighborhood groups and residents over 141 multifamily units aimed at lower-income senior citizens and families.

In addition to a pair of nine-story buildings with 70 units each, the project includes a two-story, 1880,000 sf Target store topped by a 12-screen Kerasotes movie theater with 2,000 seats, an Aldi food store, 16,000 sf of additional retail space and more than 700 garage spaces. The project will be developed by Holsten Real Estate Corp. and Kenard Corp. on an irregular 5.7 acre site between Montrose and Wilson avenues, nestled between the CTA tracks and Broadway Street.

The retail buildings will be sold to their main tenants after construction, while Holsten will hold the two multifamily buildings for 15 years. After that, the buildings could be converted to a co-op, with units bought by tenants.

The Wilson Yards site, bordered by two CTA Red Line stations, has remained vacant except for an Aldi store since a fire in 1997 destroyed a maintenance facility. Two other privately owned buildings that will be acquired as part of the project also are within the two -block sliver. However, a recent appraisal set the market value of the property at $6.6 million despite environmental contamination and poor maintenance of the property.

The high level of city financial assistance is justified, according to department of planning and development officials, because of the difficulty developing an irregular site with limited frontage on city streets. At 23.4%, the TIF assistance is still a lower percentage than being given to aid the redevelopment of the Brickyard Mall on the Northwest side, says assistant commissioner Jeff Streeter. The redevelopment is expected to yield at least $62 million over the 23-year life of the TIF, he adds.

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