UPTOWN — A troubled tax increment financing district in the 46th Ward finally appears to have worn out its welcome — after seven years and no economic development to show.
The City Council Finance Committee on Wednesday approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposal to nix the Lakeside/Clarendon TIF district as part of his 2013 budget, which would also dissolve seven other TIF districts.
“If a district has clearly failed to produce intended results, it should be eliminated, plain and simple,” Emanuel said in a statement.
TIF districts freeze property taxes within a district at existing levels for up to 23 years and pool revenue into a fund that finances subsidies for developers and pays for public improvement projects, among other uses.
The supposed centerpieces of the Lakeside/Clarendon district are two adjacent parcels of land at the corner of Clarendon and Lakeside that have struggled to lure enough private dollars to churn out even a single economic development project since the TIF was established in 2004. Ald. James Cappleman (46th) supports ending the district.
“We weren’t generating any revenue; it doesn't make sense to have it,” said Cappleman, elected in 2011.
Last week, construction workers were at the site with bulldozers, excavators and dump trucks.
Most of their efforts were spent clearing 4700 N. Clarendon Ave., which Cappleman said will be a parking lot and possibly garden space accompanying the building next to it at 4720 N. Clarendon Ave., where the for-profit Chicago Lakeshore Hospital plans to establish a children's inpatient psychiatric facility for children 17 and under.
Lakeshore signed a 30-year-lease on both the properties in 2011, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.
Lakeshore CEO Alan Eaks said the hospital had been eyeing the building for about four years, and that TIF funds are not being used because the company has enough capital for the expansion.
"That's not to say in the future we will not want to look at it, but currently, our needs are met," Eaks said.
Lana Pearlman, 59, of the 800 block of North Lakeside Place, said that dissolving the district is a good idea — and long overdue.
"Nothing was done," she said. She said 4700 and 4720 N. Clarendon Ave. have been "a waste of space," up until now.
But she worries about the impact of an inpatient psychiatric facility on the neighborhood. Residents have aired concerns about vagrancy and crime among patients at other similar facilities.
Eaks said that most residents know "that we manage our patients well."
"We've operated a psychiatric hospital in this neighborhood for almost 50 years," he said. "And when we went to the community with plans for our expansion we got very little negativity because most of the neighbors know us, and they know that we've been good neighbors."
The children's hospital building was originally built for Alzheimer's patients more than 10 years ago, but never opened and remained empty after the company behind it ran out of funds.
The vacant lot was supposed to be the site of an 18-story condo development.
That project was derailed after its developer, now a fugitive, allegedly defrauded investors out of millions of dollars before fleeing the country, according to a 2010 federal indictment.
Salman Ibrahim, the majority owner, president and chief executive officer of Sunrise Equities, is still at large, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.