Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot requests delay on City Council Finance Committee's Lincoln yards vote

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot has requested a vote by the City Council Finance Committee on the Lincoln Yards development project to be delayed, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he is honoring her wishes.

The committee was set to move forward to sign off on two new tax-increment financing (TIF) districts. The proposed TIFs would open the door to two huge projects, including the $6 billion Lincoln Yards project along the North Branch of the Chicago River, and a $7 billion vision for a mixed-use campus known as The 78 between Roosevelt Road and Chinatown.

Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot asked the Finance Committee to hold off on the vote so the council can take a hard look at the plans and the use of public funds for the projects to find out how much affordable housing will be funded, how much business would go to minority and women-owned businesses, and impacts on population density and traffic.

Lightfoot released a statement saying, "I'm calling on Finance Committee Chairman Patrick O'Connor to make tomorrow's Finance Committee meeting a subject matter hearing to address major concerns about Lincoln Yards and The 78 on the record and in public view.

"From day one, I have raised concerns about these deals and the deeply flawed process that has led us to this moment. That's why I'm calling for the committee meeting tomorrow to be a transparent and fulsome subject matter hearing to address questions including consequences for other TIF districts, affordable housing options, plans for minority- and women-owned businesses, and impacts on diversity, population density, schools, traffic, and other factors. For major development projects to drive equitable economic growth, they must be coupled with community input and a transparent, informed decision-making process."

Monday morning, Mayor Emanuel released a statement saying he would support the delay.

"In our first meeting, as well as in subsequent conversations, I made it very clear to the Mayor-elect that I would not move forward on these projects if she wanted to delay the process," Emanuel said. "While I firmly believe in the value of these projects to the entire city, out of respect for her wishes and request, I will honor my commitment and delay the vote. I am hopeful that under the mayor-elect's leadership of the new City Council these critical projects will move forward and bring the kind of investment and job creation that has been a hallmark of the past eight years."

Mayor Emanuel supports the project as well as the TIFs, which gives more than $800 million in future property tax revenue to pay for infrastructure improvements around the development.

The announcement of the delayed vote came as some aldermen and aldermen-elect joined community members for a rally protesting the development.

"They did it! We got the job done you'all," said 40th Ward Alderman-elect Andre Vasquez.

But the political maneuvering continued during the finance committee meeting. Chairman Patrick O'Connor said a vote should be put off until just before the City Council meeting on Wednesday, but 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins said there was no reason to wait.

The Lincoln Yards Development Project already passed through the Planning Committee. Mayor-elect Lightfoot wants to share her concerns through a public forum.

The committee was hearing testimony on the project and could still vote on the projects.
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