Daley Praises West Rogers Park, Extols Tax Increment Financing

CHICAGO (CBS) — Residents of the West Rogers Park neighborhood honored Mayor Richard M. Daley Thursday, as the mayor called the area “a ward that truly represents the entire city as a city of immigrants.”

Daley also extolled the benefits of the Tax Increment Financing program to small business owners who might not be able to get started otherwise. The program affects property taxes in districts where it is enacted, and has been widely criticized.

The mayor gathered with business and civic leaders in the 50th Ward in front of the J.K. Kabab House, at 6412 N. Rockwell St. just off Devon Avenue.

“To all the people that reside in the 50th Ward, this is a ward that truly represents the entire city as a city of immigrants – our past, present and future,” Daley said, “and when immigrants come here, they become part of this great American mosaic. That strength and vitality of the city is to always have immigrants coming in. At the same time, we have young people coming in from around the country and around the world. When we have that, we really have a dynamic energy to build the city.”

He pointed out the many immigrant communities have given bustling Devon Avenue its culture and flavor.

“We’re very proud of this community – both the Jewish community and the Indian community, the Pakistani community – all of these communities that truly make up Devon street, which has really represented the great history of our country, and a commitment to moving forward,” Daley said.

Daley said through the establishment of a Tax Increment Financing district in the area, the city has been able to give a boost to the J.K. Kabab House in particular.

“At the J.K. Kabab House, a great small business, the city of Chicago has been able to assist this business with TIF funds,” Daley said. “This business is a perfect example of a small business improvement fund, which is funded by Tax increment Financing, (that) helps small businesses grow and prosper.”

The fund assists small businesses with lighting, cooling systems, masonry, walk-in coolers, and interior reservations that would be costly to a business owner starting out otherwise, Daley said.

Tax Increment Financing is a source of longstanding controversy. In a TIF district, property tax dollars for schools, parks, and other taxing districts for at least 23 years, so that all property tax increases afterward to go into a fund to improve struggling neighborhoods.

Critics, most notably Chicago Reader columnist Ben Joravsky, say TIFs amount to a slush fund for the Daley administration. Joravsky has been writing articles criticizing the TIF program for several years.

But Daley said Thursday that a TIF ensures property tax money stays within a community. He said TIF funds have been used for improvements in senior housing, affordable housing, large and small businesses, parks, schools, lighting, police and fire stations, and libraries.

“And that is essential, because things always must change in the city,” Daley said. “If it doesn’t change, then you live in the past, and no one wants to live in the past. You always want to live in the present and future.”

Daley also pointed out many improvements that have transformed the neighborhood over the years, including the construction of a new elementary school, the modernization of the Lincoln Village shopping center, and rehabilitation efforts at several parks, including the popular Indian Boundary Park and zoo at Lunt Avenue and Rockwell Street. He also pointed out the new canoe walk along the North Shore Channel alongside Lincoln Village.

In the 50th Ward, residents will not only have a new mayor, but also a new alderman. The City Council meeting Wednesday was the last for Ald. Bernard Stone, who lost a runoff election last month to incoming Ald. Debra Silverstein. Stone had been in office since 1973.

  • Eleni Pappas

    I, as a resident of W.R.P., would of liked to know about this event AND I do not like that our property taxes keep going up but we see NO changes! TIFs? Weren’t they part of that monstrosity at NE corner of Rockwell & Devon? What do the W.R.P. residents get? Thank God we no longer have Stone!

  • JSmCo

    I live in West Ridge (the correct name), but also didn’t heard of this event. Vitality? In an earlier ethnic-group incarnation, there were no pigeons here, because there wasn’t enough food improperly disposed of for them to eat. And there weren’t hordes of people treating Devon like a pedestrian mall, making it one of the slowest streets anywhere to try to drive down. I’d like to see vigorous enforcement against the brazen jaywalkers, litterbugs, and those adults who ride bicycles on the sidewalks. This Community Area is a foreign country now.

  • Native Chicagoan

    Here we go again…He can’t say this or much about the poor immigrants or the many generation families of Chicagoans down on their luck and still living in the Pilsen or West Pilsen area and where that wonderful but poor family of Arturo Santana had to live among gangs. He doesn’t visit Back of the Yards, or the further West side or other blue collar neighborhoods and talk up and to the wonderful, down on their luck people there where empty factories bldgs out of existence abound. No fancy parks in those neighborhoods or tree lined streets. Libraries are few and far between (note the ruckus in PIlsen about that old park building being used by the desperate people as a library). He only opens his gob about the so called wonderful immigrants in specific sexy Northside neighborhoods, or talks up Hyde Park, UIC area, Downtown, Bridgeport, Lakefront. I am so dissapointed in Mayor Daley and think he has been out of touch with long term Chicagoans for a very long time. Also, not too much surprises me, but I was very disappointed and surprised at his brazen request for two cars to be at his disposal and a 24/7 police protection team under his fingertips and to learn he’ll get $184,000 yearly in paid retirement. All these years and he never took lessons on how to protect himself? Why is that? All his chlldren are grown, so why again does he say his family needs protection also? If true, it is hypercritical of him to have ever attempted to disallow people to own guns in city, while he gets a full time security team! Will the new mayor get it and halt the blatant favoritism of certain specific neighborhoods over and over again and ignore the needs of Chicagoans in less rich or sexy neighborhoods? Somehow, I doubt he can rise above this trench.

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