2 Investigators: Chicago Still Paying For Failed Olympic Bid

(CBS) — The Michael Reese Hospital was a key part of Chicago’s plan to transform the city into an Olympic site.

That plan hit the skids, though, when the International Olympic Committee picked Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Summer Games.

That was nearly eight years ago but, where the Reese site is concerned, taxpayers are still paying the price, the 2 Investigators found.

Chicago agreed to pay $91 million for the South Side site in 2009. It would have served as the Olympic Village, had Chicago prevailed with the IOC.

Since then, taxpayers have shelled out more than $50 million, but the city still owes over $72 million because most of the payments went toward interest on the loan.

“It’s a significant cost that they should work to get out from underneath,” says Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, a Chicago-based tax policy and government research organization.

He adds, “It’s the most significant financial hangover” of the failed Olympic bid.

The city has solicited proposals from developers and hopes to pick one by April 6. The expectation is that proceeds from the sale will pay off the loan.

Pastor Chris Harris, who grew up in the area, says the Bronzeville neighborhood will benefit from a redeveloped Reese site but the community wants to have a say in the process.

“I’ve heard that some of the developers that are interested — they are already saying we want to talk to the community,” says Harris, of Bright Star Church. “That’s the right approach, because that doesn’t always happen. In Bronzeville, we’re going to make sure that happens.”

A City Hall spokesperson notes the Reese site was acquired before Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office. His administration recently refinanced the loan to save taxpayers money, the spokesperson says.

The next payment is due at the end of the month – a quarterly interest payment of $785,000.

 

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