TagMcCormick Place

How to use Chicago Cityscape’s upgraded names search tool

Search for names of people who do business in Chicago.

I created a combined dataset of over 2 million names, including contractors, architects, business names, and business owners and their shareholders, from Chicago’s open data portal, and property owners/managers from the property tax database. It’s one of three new features published in the last couple of weeks.

Type a person or company name in the search bar and press “search”. In less than 1 second you’ll get results and a hint as to what kind of records we have.

What should you search?

Take any news article about a Chicago kinda situation, like this recent Chicago Sun-Times article about the city using $8 million in taxpayer-provided TIF district money to move the Harriet Rees house one block. The move made way for a taxpayer-funded property acquisition on which the DePaul/McCormick Place stadium will be built.

The CST is making the point that something about the house’s sale and movement is sketchy (although I don’t know if they showed that anything illegal happened).

There’re a lot of names in the article, but here are some of the ones we can find info about in Chicago Cityscape.

Salvatore Martorina – an architect & building permit expeditor, although this name is connected to a lot of other names on the business licenses section of Cityscape

Oscar Tatosian – rug company owner, who owned the vacant lot to which the Rees house was moved

Bulley & Andrews – construction company which moved the house

There were no records for the one attorney and two law firms mentioned.

Why food and drinks cost more downtown

The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority is a quasi-governmental body created by the Illinois legislature, similarly to how it created the Chicago Transit Authority. The authority is also known as McPier. McPier is able to add 1% sales tax to the sale of food and drinks in three areas in Chicago, apparently to support the operations of Navy Pier (a place I avoid) and McCormick Place. I’m writing this post because of an article I read on Crain’s Chicago Business about Chicago having the highest restaurant tax rate that failed to describe the area in question.

The main area is downtown, although the boundaries extend far beyond downtown. I first came encountered the tax as a manager of the Jamba Juice at 1322 S Halsted Street (at Maxwell Street) in the University Village development on UIC’s south campus. The other two areas encompass Midway (MDW) and O’Hare airports (ORD). I haven’t mapped them to see exactly how much land beyond the airports the areas encompass.

The downtown area is described in 70 ILCS 210, section 13, as follows:

(b) (3) that portion of the City of Chicago located within the following area: Beginning at the point 150 feet west of the intersection of the west line of North Ashland Avenue and the north line of West Diversey Avenue, then north 150 feet, then east along a line 150 feet north of the north line of West Diversey Avenue extended to the shoreline of Lake Michigan, then following the shoreline of Lake Michigan (including Navy Pier and all other improvements fixed to land, docks, or piers) to the point where the shoreline of Lake Michigan and the Adlai E. Stevenson Expressway extended east to that shoreline intersect, then west along the Adlai E. Stevenson Expressway to a point 150 feet west of the west line of South Ashland Avenue, then north along a line 150 feet west of the west line of South and North Ashland Avenue to the point of beginning.

View Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority boundaries in a larger map. I created this map by following the directions in the block quoted text above. Do not use this map to determine if your business is required to collect and remit the McPier tax. It’s not an accurate map: I didn’t measure 150 feet from any street line – I guessed.

Also interesting: all drinks (alcoholic and sodas) and food sold on boats that arrive at or depart Lake Michigan shores within the area described above are subject to the tax. And more interesting is that sales at stores whose principal income is from drinks (alcoholic and sodas) and food for off-site but immediate consumption are also subject to the tax. You can supply the Illinois Department of Revenue with your sales tax information.

I like what Bonnie McGrath said in the Chicago Journal last year:

Is this fair? Why should we South Loopers–not to mention the other neighborhoods near downtown–have to pay extra for restaurant food? What exactly are we getting that other Chicago residents don’t get that we have to pay an extra tax?

I’d also like to know why McPier needs additional revenue to supplement the millions (maybe billions?) it revenue it receives from vendor fees, events, rents, and other sources in the operation of Navy Pier and McCormick Place.

McPier also gets a cut of hotel room bookings.

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