Finance committee set for April 8 vote on Cortland/Chicago River TIF district supporting Lincoln Yards

Updated 4 April 2019

The Chicago City Council Committee on Finance is about to take up approval of public funding that would support the Lincoln Yards complex on the North Side.

According to an agenda published on-line, the finance committee will consider the proposed Cortland and Chicago River Redevelopment Plan Area, or tax-increment financing (TIF) district, at a 10 a.m. hearing on Monday, April 8, at City Hall.

Lincoln Yards' 54 acres would straddle the Chicago River's North Branch, north and south of Cortland Street.

The city wants to establish the surrounding TIF district—about twice the size of Lincoln Yards—to fund public infrastructure such as streets and bridges that Lincoln Yards would need, paid for by diverting up to $1.3 billion in local property taxes away from schools, parks, and county services.

State law requires a proposed TIF district to go through a half-dozen approval steps. For the Cortland district, the most recent step was February approval of the city's plan for the district by the Chicago Plan Commission.

At its April hearing, the finance committee will consider six Lincoln Yards-related ordinances:

  • Ordinance (O2019-2185) allows the city to stockpile incremental property taxes in the Cortland and Chicago River TIF district.
  • Ordinance O2019-2162 approves the city's redevelopment plan.
  • Ordinance O2019-2170 defines the TIF district itself.
  • Ordinance O2019-2149 and ordinance O2019-2145 redraw the boundaries of the existing, adjacent North Blanch (North) and North Blanch (South) TIF districts, respectively.
  • Ordinance O2019-2583, called a redevelopment agreement, is essentially a contract with developer Sterling Bay. It identifies specific infrastructure components that Sterling Bay will build, with the budget for each.

If approved by the finance committee, the TIF district faces a final approval vote by the full City Council.

Planning department Commissioner David Reifman has said that he wants the district approved this month, before Mayor Rahm Emanuel leaves office in May. Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot, however, reportedly wants the council's final vote delayed till after she takes office.