CCAC eNews
September 2019
CCAC eNews is the monthly newsletter of the Chicago Central Area Committee. For more information about the CCAC or to inquire about membership, please contact Kelly O'Brien at (312) 602-5148 or
Download the 2019 Meeting Calendar (PDF)!
The CCAC 2019 Meeting Calendar is ready to download in PDF format. The Calendar lists this year's dates and locations for our popular luncheon speaker series, hosted each month by a different CCAC member organization.
(NOTE: Locations subject to change--see website for newest calendar. Meetings open to paid members and guests, only.)

Download the CCAC 2019 Meeting Calendar (PDF)
Forward eNews to a Colleague!
CCAC is growing! Don't hesitate to forward this newsletter to someone you think might be a good fit for membership. Just use the "Share This" email button above the masthead.
Share Your News with Us
Let us feature your newsworthy organizational stories here in CCAC eNews. Send them to Kelly O'Brien at (312) 602-5148 or
Cook County Assessor Kaegi Briefs CCAC on Plans for Assessing Property 
CCAC would like to thank Donald Resnick, Partner, Jenner & Block for hosting the September CCAC meeting while overlooking stunning views of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan.  The membership heard from newly sworn-in Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi regarding his plans for reform to his office. After being introduced by Resnick, Kaegi commented on the size of the crowd and joked about the enormous interest in what he believed should be an obscure office by saying, “I really wish I wasn’t such a great draw.  That is a part of the problem.” When explaining his role, he said, “Our just is to do just a basic function which has been overlooked: estimate the market value of properties…while imparting favor to no one.”
Kelly O'Brien, Executive Director, CCAC, and Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi
In his opening remarks he commented, “Our neighborhoods and our downtown are as inseparable as our heart and lungs.  We work together; you can’t split one from another; we are part of an important ecosystem that we all love and care about.  I’m trying to do my part to clean it up against what is a very difficult backdrop with the economy.”  

He explained that when he first walked into the County Building after being sworn-in he faced a work environment that looked like a scene from the movie “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark” where there were hallways of boxes stacked to the ceiling and filled with appeals.  He explained how finding files were difficult, and the opportunity for loss was high. He explained his approach to bringing in talented people, changing processes, and making the office more transparent through technology.  


Kaegi spoke glowingly of bringing in a broad base of talent from the private sector to fill open positions to perform residential and commercial assessments, as well as creating an entire new department for data science.  At the top of the chain of command he recruited a Chief of Staff who had worked for former County Clerk David Orr.  


“It was important to bring people comfort with the process so people know we are not injecting favoritism into it,” said Kaegi.  That includes an Executive Order to ban political contributions from people who practice before the office as appraisers and lawyers.  He also made the appeals process blind by asking lawyers to remove their names or their firm’s name on their appeal paperwork. He also brought in outside experts to audit the office and make recommendations for new controls.  He said, “All this process work is designed to make us more efficient but also to build people’s confidence in our office.”


“Our office was probably the least transparent office when we came in and we’ve flipped that,” beamed Kaegi.  That includes publishing data that the office generates, explained Kaegi. “We’ve released all our assumptions because it is important that we be transparent in how we’re doing our valuations so we can be held accountable,” he said.  


“Many developments in technology are giving us a tail wind… a model is only as good as the data that does into it,” said Kaegi.  He explained new technologies and tools - such as aerial photos and third-party data - that are being integrated into work processes.  

Kaegi reminded the audience that increased assessments do not translate into additional tax revenue for local governments because in Illinois taxing bodies institute tax rates upon neighborhoods based on their budgets.  He also pointed out that two-thirds of property taxes are for schools. He encouraged CCAC members to use their financial expertise to help their local schools with their financial decisions.  

He advised the CCAC membership who are anxious about downtown rates by saying, “We have no preconceived notions for what assessments should be for downtown properties.  Injecting preferences into the process is what got us in trouble. I’ve told my staff to make market value their north star.” He also acknowledged that uncertainty can be scary but pointed out that there is a system that did not work well for people, but he is looking forward to hosting more public events and analyst days for people to learn how the office is performing its duties.  

Before his closing remarks he discussed SB 1379, a proposal before the General Assembly to amend state law to allow property owners to provide his office with information as his assessors are doing their work, instead of forcing them to wait for the appeal process to start.  He said waiting for an appeal is time consuming and costly, both for the office and the property owners, but having better data at the start of the process can greatly increase the accuracy of the assessment. He said the legislation has passed the Illinois Senate on a bipartisan basis, but has yet to receive a hearing in the Illinois House of Representatives.   He said, “The key is to make our assessment system more predictable.”

He closed by saying, “We’re going to show our work here, we’re going to be held accountable.  We’re going to make mistakes but we’re going to own them. We have to back up our work with good work.”  
The CCAC Membership listened intently as Assessor Kaegi talked about bringing reforms to his office.
Corridor Revitalization Initiative Update 
As announced in the July newsletterCCAC is partnering with World Business Chicago “WBC” (the City's public private partnership organization that drives inclusive growth and job creation) to lead a corridor revitalization effort in five neighborhoods that includes local community organizations. 

The area of focus include:
In August, CCAC and WBC organized a bus tour of the five corridors.  The community partners greeted the members, led walking tours and shared insights about the history of the neighborhoods.  In September, participants joined a “Meeting of the Whole” and heard from guest speakers, Lyneir Richardson, Chicago TREND, and Maurice Williams, Vice President of Economic Development, Chicago Community Loan Fund.

The Teams, made up with over 30 CCAC member firms, are meeting regularly with the community leads and the following general activities are within parameters of this engagement: 
  • Analyze up to 50 property PINS within a commercial corridor (ownership, tax status, liens, zoning, etc.)
  • Make recommendations that support energy and modernization efforts
  • Prepare architectural renderings for potential improvements to storefronts, vacant property and redevelopment strategies
  • Prepare renderings for cohesive corridor design i.e. signage/ neighborhood markers, streetscape elements, etc.
  • Make infrastructure recommendations (CDOT) i.e. sidewalks, traffic calming features, etc.
  • Research best and highest use for vacant parcels 
For more information and to get involved, email Kelly O’Brien, CCAC, Executive Director, at:
Next CCAC Meeting:
Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at Mastros Steakhouse
Join us at Mastros Steakhouse on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 for the October CCAC Luncheon hosted by Thomas McElroy, Principal & CEO, Level-1 Global Soltuions.  The guest speaker will be Bob Dunn, President & Managing Partnerof Landmark Development, which has proposed the One Central project adjacent to Soldier Field and McCormick Place.  
Dunn has been directly responsible for sports, entertainment and mixed-use commercial real estate development projects valued in excess of $15 billion, including the planning, development, finance, marketing and operation of major sports and entertainment, hospitality, academic, health care and commercial projects throughout the United States and abroad.  
His company has proposed transforming the property just west of Soldier Field and north of McCormick Place into One Central and he will speak to the CCAC membership about his past experience with large and high-profile projects and how that work will help transform this vacant piece of land.
CCAC October Meeting 
Bob Dunn, President & Managing Partner, Landmark Development 
Thomas McElroy, Principal & CEO, Level-1 Global Solutions 
Tuesday, October 8, 2019
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Mastros Steakhouse
520 N. Dearborn St.
Chicago, IL  60654 
Kelly O'Brien at  
Journey to Dubai for World Expo 
January 27 - February 2, 2021
Sign Up Now
During the February CCAC meeting, it was announced that a CCAC delegation would be traveling to Dubai in 2021 to attend the World Expo, and experience Dubai and its many highlights stemming from this global event.  The delegation will attend from January 27 to February 2, 2021 (yes, 2021).  CCAC member Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture was selected to design the Al Wasl Plaza for the World Expo in Dubai and is organizing this special opportunity for our members and their guests.

A preliminary agenda and expected costs can be found by clicking this link. 
Spots are limited, add your name to the confirmed list by emailing
Central City Strategy for All of Chicago Update
Since the release of CCAC's Central City Strategy in May, CCAC leadership has been briefing elected officials and opinion leaders on ways that success in the City's core can leverage success in the City's neighborhoods.  CCAC members are invited to share the briefing documents with their network, and contact Kelly O'Brien at if you would like to schedule a detailed briefing.
Chicago Skyway Loyalty Program
The Chicago Skyway is now offering a rewards program.  By joining the program drivers earn toll discounts by just using the road.  Six trips in one-month will qualify for a 50% discount.  All that is needed is a valid I-Pass or E-Z Pass and e-mail address.
The Burnham Council Update
A subcommittee of the Burnham Council is convening on September 30th at 3 p.m. to discuss proposed descriptions for the Burnham Council Executive Board (President, Vice President for Internal Affairs, Vice President for External Affairs, and Vice President for Programming) and discuss election timeline.   Please watch your e-mail for updates.  For more information, e-mail   
CCAC Issues in the News
The CHICAGO SUN TIMES is running a series of guest columns written by Ed Zotti, CCAC Consultant, that directly speaks to strengthenig the City's competitive edge.  In his August 9th column, Zotti discusses the past, present, and future of where jobs are located in the City of Chicago.  Below are some highlights:
"Where the Jobs are in Chicago:  Downtown, and That's a Good Thing"
"The most effective way to boost struggling neighborhoods is to help those who live in them get jobs downtown.  That’s where most new jobs in Chicago are going to be — and it’s not just people with MBAs or law degrees who will get them."
"And it isn’t only the affluent parts of Chicago that stand to benefit. The emergence of downtown as the region’s chief economic engine offers the best chance to lift people out of poverty that we’ve had in a long time. For most of the postwar era, until recently, the bulk of new jobs could be found in the suburbs, requiring cars. But downtown is readily accessible by mass transit from most parts of the city."
"Economic development efforts in the neighborhoods isn’t futile. But, at best, they generate new jobs numbering in the thousands. Downtown, by comparison, produces new jobs in the tens of thousands."
Burnham Council Coffee Meet-Ups - Last Thursday of Each Month
The Burnham Council will meet on Thursday, October 31 from 8 a.m. - 9 a.m. at The Revival Café Bar located at the Revival Food Hall at 125 S. Clark St. for coffee and networking.  The new monthly meet-ups are being organized by CCAC/Burnham Council member, Matt Cermak, Commercial Account Manager, Chicago Title Insurance Company.  
Members are encouraged to let Matt know if they plan to attend by e-mailing but there is no formal registration.
"Like Us" on Social Media! Connect with CCAC!
CCAC is active on social media including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Please follow us on Twitter with our username @ChicagoCCAC or click the icon(s) below to be directed to our page. Please search for us on LinkedIn or Facebook under the name Chicago Central Area Committee!
Twitter Facebook LinkedIn
(312) 602-5148
powered by emma
Subscribe to our email list.