Reifman’s remarks touched on several areas of interest and included:
Over 77 million people travel through O’Hare Airport each year. Mayor Emanuel is committed to the “O’Hare Airport Modernization,” and recent progress includes two completed runways with a third one opening in 2020, 13 new gates, 9 of which contain international terminals, and a new ground transportation multimodal facility. Reifman explained that the Mayor launched a two-year effort in the spring of this year to pursue express train service between downtown and O’Hare. The RFQ has been released and this will help the City compete on a global level with cities like Toronto, London, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Reifman stated, “Coupled with Chicago’s second international airport, Midway, our transit gives us a unique competitive advantage in the global economy.”
During the Mayor’s first term, one of his priority projects was the Red Line South Reconstruction. Over $425 million dollars in investment was spent in refurbishing the Red Line in order to cut travel time up to 20 minutes and servicing the 9 districts running to Cermak. Reifman told the audience, “In 2016, we passed the first transit TIF in Chicago and Illinois for the CTA’s first phase of the Red and Purple Line Modernization. The red line is the backbone of the entire CTA system. We will be putting new tracks, signals, rehab stations in Lawrence, Argyle, Bourbon, and Bryn Mawr.” Continuing his remarks, Reifman detailed, “The transit TIF is a $600 million dollar match of a $1 billion dollar Federal core capacity grant which plans to expand the capacity of the Red Line and Brown Line, allowing more trains through the system and getting more people downtown more efficiently. Beyond that, we’re extending the Red Line south to 130th Street which is another $2.3 billion dollar project that we are in the process of undertaking.”
Union Station has over 125,000 passengers per day. Stating that this project is key to the transit economy, Reifman mentioned CCAC member, Riverside Investment Development, was selected by Amtrak for a $1.5 billion dollar residential and commercial project.
Roughly 18 months ago, the City of Chicago revamped the downtown bonus system. Reifman stated, "The new system replaced the old system and it now requires a single financial payment, which is allocated into three separate funds: 80% of the payment goes to the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, 10% of the payment goes into a City-wide adopted landmark fund and 10% goes into the local infrastructure fund.”
For the Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus, the City expanded the geography of downtown Chicago. Reifman explained, “Part of this was the natural evolution of the downtown roads, but as a planning department, we looked at the data and those areas where additional density made sense. Based on expanding the downtown zoning district geography by 22%, there is access to mixed use corridor development, multiple transit lines and proximity to tens of thousands of jobs. To this point we have more than a dozen projects valued at $1.4 billion dollars.”
According to Reifman, to date, developers have committed more than $44 million dollars to the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund from various projects. Some of the key projects include McDonald’s Headquarters and the new project proposed at 110 N. Wacker. McDonald’s moving its headquarters from the suburbs to the City generated $4 million dollars in bonus money and $3.2 million of that money went into the bonus fund. The Riverside Investment Development project located at 110 N. Wacker will generate more than $20 million dollars to the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund. Reifman emphasized, “The Neighborhood Opportunity Fund is a critical way that we help level the playing fields for our underserved neighborhoods, specifically in terms of commercial resources.”
One of the Mayor’s priorities for his second term was to update industrial corridors and implement a modernization plan. Reifman explained, “We wanted to be sure that we align our land use with our industrial policy and goals, specifically in terms of advancement in manufacturing, high-tech research and logistics. The key goals of this plan include potential boundary changes to ensure we’re positioned for mixed-use development in select corridors to accommodate central area expansion for 21st century jobs and to make sure that we create value for the parts of our city that are very strong, i.e. the southwest corridor and the northwest side.”
The City of Chicago anticipates this initiative will generate billions of dollars in investment, hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue, tens of millions of dollars in new revenue, city-wide economic development, tens of thousands of jobs as well as unprecedented open space and transit improvements.
Reifman stated the planning department carefully thought about the North Branch area and how best to “accommodate the size of developments with plans that have short, medium and long-term improvements including vehicular bridges, pedestrian bridges, trail connections, a possible light rail corridor system, as well as 60 acres of open space including 10 acres of recreational fields.” He suggested that the poster child for this kind of redevelopment is the Finkl site. Finkl moved from Lincoln Park, a dense population center near downtown, to Burnside, a neighborhood more appropriate for their logistical needs.
Referencing the Kinzie Industrial Corridor, Reifman discussed the partial repeal of the planned manufacturing district (PMD) east of Ogden Avenue. “Owners and developers would have to pay a fee into the industrial corridor system that will allow us to create resources to support the other industrial corridors that are still viable. We are able to balance the industrial corridors throughout the city to attract additional development. We can see the increase in value of one area while supporting the other parts of the city — something we can’t do in traditional financing,” noted Reifman.
As the City moves forward and creates this fee on the industrial corridor, it will provide support for projects in East Garfield Park, like the Hatchery, and in Pullman, like the Whole Foods Distribution Center and the Method Soap factory. Recent development in Pullman includes over $225 million dollars in public-private investment and the creation of 4,700 jobs in that area.
Moving into the realm of affordable housing, Reifman shared, “The five-year plan to create $1.2 billion dollars of investment into affordable housing includes 40,000 units and the creation of tens of thousands of job opportunities. Reifman told CCAC, “The pilot is already seeing a lot of growth along the southern part of the industrial corridor near Cabrini-Green and it is rapidly picking up in investment areas such as Logan Square and the Milwaukee Corridor to capture additional affordable opportunities.”
Another one of the Mayor’s top priorities includes how to implement Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) projects as smartly and quickly as possible. Currently, there is $200 million worth of projects underway at the CHA. Of special note is the combination of CHA housing with Chicago Public Libraries. Commissioner Reifman gave a shout out to CCAC members, Perkins+Will and Skidmore Owings and Merrill, who were selected to design 2 out of the 3 libraries.