• Why and how wealthy Dem donor fired Joravsky from WCPT radio

    21 January 2019

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky: In the midst of a hotly contested mayoral race, did WCPT radio's owner eject Joravsky due to Ben's scrutiny of mainstream Chicago Democrats?.

  • Local government reps green-light Cortland TIF despite public doubt

    13 January 2019

    A board of local officials gave the first governmental green light to the billion-dollar Cortland/Chicago River tax-increment financing district.

  • Government reps to meet for Cortland TIF district approval on Jan. 11

    3 January 2019

    A Jan. 11 joint review board meeting will let taxing bodies say whether they'll permit the Cortland/Chicago River TIF district to divert property taxes for the privately-developed Lincoln Yards.

  • A reporter's view of the Cortland TIF and Lincoln Yards

    18 December 2018

    In an interview by Ben Joravsky with Dave Glowacz on WCPT-AM's Ben Joravsky Show, Ben explores Dave's recent reporting on the Cortland/Chicago River TIF district and the proposed Lincoln Yards real estate development, and more.

  • City expects Cortland TIF valuation of $2.5 billion

    17 December 2018

    The city of Chicago expects that the equalized assessed valuation of properties in the proposed Cortland/Chicago River tax-increment financing district will total $2.5 billion.

  • City: Lincoln Yards TIF expected to pay out $1.3 billion

    12 December 2018

    The city expects to pay out at least $1.3 billion in collected property taxes from the Cortland/Chicago River TIF district, according to a newly released report.

  • City board set to advance Lincoln Yards TIF district

    10 December 2018

    The city of Chicago's Community Development Commission is set to advance a tax-increment financing district surrounding the proposed Lincoln Yards development.

  • How did city reckon $800M for Lincoln Yards TIF?

    4 December 2018

    (Updated on 12 December 2018)

    Recently, one of our Facebook followers responded to my article on the origin of Lincoln Yards and the associated tax-increment financing (TIF) district, writing:

    "What is missing from publicly disclosed documents are estimates for the amount tax revenue that this project can be expected to generate over the 23-year (more if it's extended) life of the TIF . . . How much in property taxes beyond the estimated $800M for proposed infrastructure improvements that would go into a discretionary (slush) fund under the control of the mayor?"

    City infrastructure spending
    Chicago Dept. of Planning and Development estimates,
    totaling $700M, of infrastructure spending in the
    Cortland/Chicago River TIF district.
    Source: city of Chicago's 11/14/18 public meeting.

    The one thing—and the only thing—we know about the estimated tax revenue from publicly disclosed documents is the amount: $800 million. This figure comes from a FAQ sheet distributed by the Chicago Dept. of Planning and Development at its Nov. 14, 2018 public meeting on the Cortland/Chicago River TIF district.

    I think the writer's larger implication is correct: The city has not provided any material to show on what it based that estimate.

    Presumably, planning department analysts looked at the potential 23-year life of the proposed TIF district and did the following.

    1. Estimate the number, size, density, and uses of all the buildings that might get built.
    2. Assign an equalized assessed value (EAV) of all the properties identified in #1, for each year of the TIF district's life. Sum them over all the years.
    3. Identify the EAV of all the properties present at the TIF district's inception. Multiply that by the number of years of the TIF district's life.
    4. To get the total tax increment accumulated by the district, subtract #3 from #4 and multiply by the tax rate.

    LY land use
    Sterling Bay's 11/29/18 update of the proposed Lincoln
    Yards building layout. Source: Sterling Bay.

    The city hasn't disclosed any of that. Planning department officials did, however, show how they'd spend up to $700 million of the estimated total TIF take (see "Key Public Infrastructure Needs" above).

    Some clues about the calculations appear in the TIF district's redevelopment agreement—a document that planning officials said at the Nov. 14 meeting they'd release "in three weeks," but that the city's Web site revealed on Dec. 12.

    Another wrinkle: The Lincoln Yards development will comprise an estimated two-fifths of the TIF district. The developer of Lincoln Yards, Sterling Bay, has not made publicly available a detailed list of the projected number, size, density, and uses of all the buildings in Lincoln Yards. Though an enterprising researcher could extrapolate some (or much) of it from the aerial renderings that Sterling Bay's presented at a Nov. 29 public meeting, no one has tried . . . yet.

  • Lincoln Yards 11/29/18 public meeting: complete audio

    2 December 2018

    Complete audio recordings of the Lincoln Yards public meeting held on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, at 1001 N. Crosby St., Chicago.

  • Lincoln Yards TIF district's Amazon past and fast-track future

    30 November 2018

    The proposed Lincoln Yards development and the Cortland/Chicago River TIF district have a past rooted in the city's Amazon bid, and a future linked to a mayor's departure.

  • Cortland/Chicago River TIF district 11/14/18 public meeting: complete audio

    21 November 2018

    Complete audio recordings of the Cortland/Chicago River TIF district public meeting held on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, at 1001 N. Crosby St., Chicago.

  • New TIF district would cover entire Lincoln Yards site

    14 November 2018

    The city of Chicago has proposed the Cortland/Chicago River tax-increment financing district, which will encircle all of the planned Lincoln Yards development along the Chicago River's North Branch.

  • Analysis: Chicago has $1.4 billion held in TIF accounts

    31 August 2018

    An analysis from the TIF Illumination Project found that the city of Chicago has about $1.44 billion held in accounts associated with the city's 145 tax-increment financing districts.

  • Latest TIF take: opaque, no brake

    29 August 2018

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on the huge sum stockpiled in Chicago's tax-increment financing accounts during 2017, and more.

  • Congress Theater TIF, term limits: sensible schemes?

    8 July 2018

    In an interview by Ben Joravsky with Dave Glowacz on WCPT-AM's Ben Joravsky Show, Ben and Dave discuss a Logan Square TIF subsidy, the arguments for term limits, and more.

  • Mr Bike: winter tips, and Emanuel's "cocktail train"

    26 December 2017

    In an interview by Ben Joravsky with Dave "Mr Bike" Glowacz on WCPT-AM's Ben Joravsky Show, Dave and Ben discuss Mayor Emanuel's plan for an O'Hare express "cocktail train," winter cycling tips, and more.

  • Audiobook: Joravsky on tax-increment financing

    6 June 2017

    This first-in-a-series audiobook features years of in-depth discussions by Chicago Reader columnist Ben Joravsky and journalist Dave Glowacz about tax-increment financing.

  • Red Line TIF district could suck in $5B in property taxes

    8 December 2016

    A new transit taxing district surrounding the Red Line on the North Side could generate at least $5 billion in revenue—far more than the city had previously claimed.

  • We goofed on reporting TIF revenue for RPM Phase 1

    21 November 2016

    The original version of our Nov. 17, 2016 interview with Ben Joravsky, "Trump and transit: Rahm railroads Red Line appeal," contained an error.

    Reporter Dave Glowacz said that the city's consultant estimated that the Red Purple Modernization Phase 1 TIF district will generate $17.6 billion in tax-increment revenue. That was incorrect.

    The consultant's report says that the district will create a total increase in properties' equalized assessed valuation (EAV) of about $17.6 billion over 35 years.

    To calculate the amount of tax revenue associated with the total EAV, multiply by the county's current tax rate, .0687 (6.876 percent), by the EAV in each year of the district's 35 years.

    That yields a very rough estimate, as the county's tax rate changes year to year.

    We've corrected the audio tracks for the interview.

  • Trump and transit: Rahm railroads Red Line appeal

    17 November 2016

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on the Emanuel administration's scramble, after the presumed election of Donald Trump as president, to secure federal funding and TIF designation for Red Line reconstruction.