Mayor Emanuel and the CTA have approval for their Transit TIF funding. Now watch them waste millions on an unnecessary and neighborhood-crushing project.
The idea is that residents and businesses near CTA lines will benefit from the modernization of the rail system, so property values will rise. Projected property tax revenue increases become TIF funding used to fund needed improvements to aging CTA stations, rails, and supports.
Makes sense generally. But in Central Lakeview, just the opposite is true.
Here, the CTA plans to build what it has called a “Signature Project,” a $570+million Brown Line “Flyover” just north of the Belmont station. It means constructing a Jane Byrne interchange-style curvy skyway in the middle of Lakeview. The purpose is to lift the Brown Line tracks up and over the Red Line tracks to shave a mere 20-30 seconds off 40% of Red Line trips downtown.
To do this, they plan to tear down 16-21 buildings, many right on historic Clark Street. Putting a railway in the sky above the heart of this thriving entertainment-theater-restaurant district will turn much of this popular neighborhood into a permanent under-El wasteland. Increased property values? Just the opposite.
Artistic renderings of a post-Flyover Central Lakeview the CTA has presented are filled with fanciful buildings that couldn’t possibly fit on the lots left after construction. Lovely to look at, but not at all related to the ugly, empty future we will face.
Who cares? Everyone should. It’s our money they will waste, a part of our city they will strip of its character and charm.
Whose name on it?
Before the Mayor and the CTA waste $570+ million to destroy Central Lakeview for this “Signature Project” Flyover, they should consider: Who will want to put their signature on this?
Who will want their name on the Belmont Flyover in 10 years when Central Lakeview – a major restaurant, theater, entertainment district – has been gutted?
Who will want their name on this curving ride up and over other elevated tracks after 20 years of what would most assuredly be poor maintenance?
And isn’t there something sickeningly familiar about this new “Signature Project”?
Remember all the excitement and rush to create the “Super Station” under Block 37? Now we have a cavernous hole deep under Block 37 – a $400 million Super Station that connects to nothing, and we’ll be paying for it for years.
How about the bold O’Hare Express plan – happily now on hold – to construct a second Blue Line track high above the existing Blue Line, to create a thrillingly expensive, exclusive, super-fast ride to O’Hare for executives?
Let’s stop and think this time. Let’s not rush to ruin Central Lakeview with another dramatic, expensive idea we are bound to regret. Instead, focus Transit TIF funding where it’s desperately needed – updating tracks and stations and expanding CTA service to reach more neighborhoods all around Chicago.
No more “Signature Projects,” please.