October 5, 2011

City Council Approves Tax Incentive, Landmark, Open Spaces and TIF Developments

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

LANDMARKS

An original White Castle restaurant, the Kenwood United Church of Christ and a former Schlitz Brewing Co. tied house were designated as official landmarks today by the Chicago City Council.

“These structures have served their communities for decades and their designations as official Chicago landmarks will preserve them for years to come," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

Each structure was previously recommended for landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

White Castle #16

Built in 1930 at 43 E. Cermak Road, the one-story structure was operated by White Castle System of Eating Houses until 1944. It remains Chicago's oldest known fast food restaurant building.

The turreted, castle-like structure reflects the pioneering use of programmatic architecture by White Castle, considered "the father" of U.S. fast food chains. The design was intended to advertise the purity and permanence of the business of selling hamburgers which, until then, was largely considered by the public as a "carnival food" of questionable quality.

The 150-square-foot structure was restored to its original appearance in 2010. It continues to be operated as a fast food restaurant.

Kenwood United Church of Christ

The 124-year-old, Richardson Romanesque-style church at 4600 S. Greenwood Ave. was built in 1887. Designed by early Chicago architect William W. Boyington, the building features a 70-foot-high bell tower, large arched windows, and medieval-influenced foliate ornament. Wood trim and wooden trusses adorn its 1,700-seat sanctuary.

Boyington's few surviving works also include the old Water Tower and Pumping Station and the Rosehill Cemetery gatehouse.

Schlitz Brewery Tied House

Located at 1944 N. Oakley Ave. the German Renaissance Revival style tavern was commissioned in 1898 by Edward Uihlein of the Milwaukee-based Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. As a tied house, it exclusively sold Schlitz products. 

Schlitz was the most prolific builder of tied houses in Chicago, constructing at least 57 taverns from the 1890s to the early 1900s. Like many Schlitz tied houses, the facade at 1944 N. Oakley features a distinctive relief of the belted Schlitz beer globe insignia.  

Still used as a tavern, the structure is the last of a group of nine Schlitz tied houses that the Landmarks Commission has forwarded for landmark designation by City Council.

PROPERTY TAX INCENTIVES

A trio of property tax incentives approved by City Council today will help three businesses complete neighborhood investment projects

“By supporting tax measures that reduce business operating costs, the city can provide the certainty and encouragement that employers need to make new investments and help grow our economy,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. 

4330 S. Racine LLC

A Cook County Class 6(b) incentive will finalize the rehabilitation of a vacant industrial building at 4330 S. Racine Ave. on behalf of two new tenants.

The $257,000 rehabilitation of the 169,000-square-foot structure will be completed on behalf of Sunshine Supply Co., a distributor of plastic containers, and New Premier Metal Recycling, which specializes in scrap metal recycling.

The New City project will result in 40 full-time and three part-time jobs. Both tenants had considered locations in Will County before signing leases in the building.

The Class 6(b) incentive encourages industrial development by offering a reduced property tax assessment rate for 12 years.

Total tax savings for the property owner, 4330 S. Racine LLC, are estimated at $177,000. 

Modern Processing Equipment

Another Class 6(b) incentive will help Modern Processing Equipment, a family-owned manufacturer of food processing tools, to finalize a 15,000-square-foot addition to its facility at 3125 S. Kolin Ave.  in South Lawndale.

The $1.3 milllion expansion will be used as light assembly and storage space and enable the 49-person company to add seven jobs.

Total tax savings is estimated at $293,000.

Shops at Kingbury Square LLC

A Class C property tax incentive will support the already-completed cleanup of a contaminated industrial site at 1550 N. Kingsbury St. on the Near North Side.

The $2.8 million cleanup project by the Shops of Kingsbury Square LLC resulted in the 2009 development of an 85,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market that employs 526 people.

The Class C incentive encourages the cleanup of contaminated industrial, commercial or vacant sites by lowering the assessment rate for 12 years. 

Total tax savings is estimated at $2.9 million.

OPEN SPACES

The City Council today approved plans that will enable the development of a North Side nature preserve, a South Side urban farm, and a West Side community garden.

"Chicago's natural areas, whether they're used for growing food or for recreation, are essential to neighborhood health and well-being. These proposals will help reinforce the City's commitment to improving and expanding these local assets," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

Rosehill Nature Preserve

The nature prserve will be developed on 21 acres of woods and wetlands that will be purchased by the City on the northwest corner of Rosehill Cemetery at 5900 N. Western Ave.

To be acquired for $7.8 million, the property will eventually be transferred to the Chicago Park District for public use.

The site was never developed for cemetery purposes. It includes mixed woodlands and a seven-acre pond that are identified in Chicago's "Nature and Wildlife Plan" as forming part of a unique, natural landscape within the Lincoln Square community.

Tax Increment Financing and tax exempt bonds will be used to purchase the property and dredge the pond.  Future enhancements will involve new trails and wildlife viewing platforms.

Honore Street Farm

The urban farm will be created through the sale of 10 pacels of City-owned land for use by Growing Home, an organic farming business that provides transitional job training to homeless and low-income individuals.

The parcels, located on the 5800 blocks of South Wolcott and Honore streets,  will be used by Growing Home to raise organic produce that will be sold to community residents and at farmers markets. The proposed sale price is $1 for all 10 parcels.

The NeighborSpace land trust will own the land and Growing Home will manage the property as Honore Street Farm, which will serve as an extension of its nearby Wood Street Farm.

Ujima Garden

The community garden will be developed on one parcel of City-owned land at 545 N. Central Park Ave., which will be used to grow vegetables in raised beds. Plans also call for a walking path, shed, compost bin and rain barrel.

The City will sell the 5,900-square-foot site for $1 to the NeighborSpace land trust, which will provide liability insurance for the local Humboldt Park residents that will provide day-to-day upkeep. Residents have named the garden "Ujima," a swahili term for collaboration.

The City’s GreenCorps program will fund the installation and maintenance of the garden as part of an initiative aimed at unifying the community and promoting healthy living.

TIF

Gateway Plaza

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) assistance approved today by the City Council will support the development of a new retail center on the Near West Side.

The $42 million Gateway Plaza planned for the northwest corner of Halsted and Monroe streets will receive $7 million in TIF financing. The 1.5-acre site has historically been used for surface parking.

The 95,000-square-foot, three-story structure will include a 71,000-square-foot Mariano's grocery store, parking for 220 vehicles, and additional commercial spaces for a variety of tenants.

An estimated 200 permanent jobs and 250 temporary jobs will result from its construction, according to the developer, CD-EB/EP Retail JV, LLC.

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