Currently, the Lightfoot administration has proposed spending about $188 million to support the construction of 318 affordable dwelling units in three office and hotel buildings that would accomplish a couple of goals. The housing would reduce the segregation of downtown living, and it would increase the population of downtown which could use more people to support all of the businesses and infrastructure that already exist.

The building at 111 W. Monroe St. From Block Club Chicago: “This proposal by Prime/Capri Interests, LLC, will create 349 apartments, 30 percent affordable, plus a hotel on the lower floors and 130 spots of underground parking. The hotel would be created without city funding, developers said.”

How should that money be spent

Let’s see how much money the LaSalle Central TIF district has.

  • $196 million (at the end of 2021) – read the annual report
  • it generated $151 million in 2021
  • the city projects it will generate $120 million in in 2022 (source)
  • the city spent $76 million in 2021 ($63 million was surplused and the rest was spent on plans, studies, and “Costs of construction of public works or improvements”)

That’s a lot of money that the mayor’s office gets to choose how to spend!

It’s unlikely that the Lightfoot administration can rally the necessary approvals to dedicate the money before Brandon Johnson and a new city council is sworn in on Wednesday, May 15.

If the Johnson administration wanted to review the alternatives to that proposal, what would those be?

The alternatives

  1. Spend $188 million to support the construction of 318 affordable units 
  2. Surplus the money; if the city did this, it would receive $44.81 million into the general budget. 
  3. Spend the same or less money on…something else. This could include beautifying the street or attracting residential development through another strategy that doesn’t spend the money on buildings construction (according to suggestions in a Crain’s article).
  4. Do nothing. The money would stay in the account, grow, and generate interest.

What are other ways to spend the money?

With the cash flow shown in the “how much money” list above, it seems that the city could accomplish alternatives 1 and 2.