Two appointments for the Community Development Commission (CDC) and several tax breaks for businesses moved quickly through the Committee on Economic, Capital, and Technology development Tuesday.
Attendance: Chair Howard Brookins, Jr. (22) Joe Moreno (1), Leslie Hairston (5), Patrick Daley Thompson (11), Toni Foulkes (16), Gregory Mitchell (17), Willie Cochran (20), Jason Ervin (28), Gilbert Villegas (36), Emma Mitts (37), Michele Smith (43), John Arena (45), Ameya Pawar (47)
Acting Department of Planning and Development Commissioner David Reifman and affordable housing developer Eileen Rhodes’ appointments to the CDC were approved by the committee in less than 10 minutes. Reifman has been working for DPD for a little over a month, and Rhodes has been working on affordable housing in the city’s South and West Sides as CEO of East Lake Management for more than 15 years. The Community Development Commission is a 15 member panel that issues recommendations on TIFs, redevelopment areas, and membership to Community Conservation Councils.
“I’ve worked in many communities on consensus building and working with different interests, stakeholders, and I think that skill set will serve me extremely well,” Reifman told the committee of his time in the private sector at the land use law firm DLA Piper, “I think it’s really the adaptability of that skill set and the experience with those issues that will give me the benefits of representing the City.”
Reifman’s appointment as DPD Commissioner is still awaiting approval in the Zoning Committee.
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5) praised Rhodes, whose company operates in Hairston’s South Side ward. “She has a good understanding of what it takes to develop in underserved communities and I think it’s a great addition to the CDC.”
“Thank you, Alderman. Go Cubs,” Rhodes said to Hairston, a Sox fan who wore an Arrieta jersey to meetings yesterday.
Ald. Emma Mitts (37) told Rhodes she hoped she could help cut through red tape to help underserved communities who haven’t yet bounced back from the recession. Rhodes agreed, saying she hoped to put TIFs to good use, “[At Eastlake,] we do as much as we can to help the fabric of the community instead of just building a house and leaving it because we understand that it’s not enough.”
The committee also quickly approved a class 7(c) tax break for construction of a new Toyota/Scion dealership in the 40th Ward. A 7(c) tax break reduces the property tax assessment level to 10% for the first three years, 15% in the fourth year and 20% in the fifth year. The dealership is moving from its Edgewater location to expand in West Ridge–it would retain 120 jobs and add 25 new full time jobs.
The committee also approved the renewal of a 6(b) break for a commercial building that houses Comcast and the Illinois Department of Human Resources employees on the far South Side. The Class 6(b) tax classification lowers the Cook County tax rate for eligible projects over a 12-year period. The property owner, Rich Raffin, used the original tax break to expand its existing parking lot to accommodate a request from Comcast, who threatened to move operations to the south suburbs, according to Marilyn Engwall of the Department of Planning and Development. The extension of the break will save Raffin $279,000 and offset the costs of the $789,000 parking lot.
Committee members slowly trickled out of the meeting, until just six were left by the end. Those remaining voted in favor of a series of 6(b) tax breaks for construction of a $40 million package sorting and distribution facility for FedEx Ground operations on the Lower West Side and to support the shipping company’s recently built $10.8 million 55,000-square-foot warehouse in the Pilsen Industrial Corridor.
The Committee held one 6(b) tax incentive for Eli’s Cheesecake Company at the request of the local alderman, Nick Sposato (38). Eli’s applied for a tax break for the proposed construction of a roughly 38,000 square foot manufacturing industrial facility at 4350 N. Normandy Ave and 6701 W. Forest Preserve Dr., the site of the existing Eli’s Cheesecake World.