No tiffs over TIF


At Monday evening's public Hyde Park TIF Advisory Council meeting at Kenwood Academy, associate vice president for community and civic affairs Susan Campbell brought 50 community members, developers, and the 12-person council up to date about the University’s plans for Harper Court, the deteriorating shopping complex at 53rd and Harper purchased in May. “Our focus as the University—admittedly the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” Campbell said, “is to change this marketplace somehow. That’s why we’ve made the choices we have” to develop the complex.

University administrators terminated an agreement with a developer whose proposal they had recently selected, Campbell explained, “for a number of reasons,” and are back in the request-for-proposals phase of planning. “We decided it’s best to wait for everything to work in concert,” she said. Many proposals were rejected for requiring too much subsidy, such as the one-screen movie theater that requested $1 million.

Earlier in the meeting, Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, AB’69, MAT’77, said that the chosen developer may request TIF money—tax increment financing, a tool intended to enable development in poor areas through public subsidies—for creating public parking spaces.

“We still don't have a concrete plan,” Campbell concluded, but “we're hopeful that with the development of 53rd Street, that corner can regain its prominence as a vital retail area.” Howard Males, AM'77, PhD'81, the council’s chair, said they expect to see Campbell again soon.

“Yes,” responded Campbell, who plans to return in November with another Harper Court update. Another face at that session, Campbell said—“to get her feet wet”—will be former Chicago Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski, hired this week as the U of C’s vice president for civic engagement.

Shira Tevah, '09

Photo: Hyde Parkers gather at a development meeting.

September 10, 2008