Target store on target for fall 2010, despite lawsuit

The construction of a Target store and a new housing development is proceeding at the Wilson Yard site, even as a lawsuit threatens to derail the project and opinion is split on whether the plan will be good for the neighborhood.

The development, located on Broadway and Montrose in Uptown, has been the subject of intense scrutiny ever since a fire destroyed a CTA facility there in 1996.

In 2001, the area was designated a tax increment financing district, or TIF, which enabled property taxes to help fund the redevelopment. 

Fix Wilson Yard, a group of neighborhood residents opposed to the development, filed suit against the city in December 2008 to halt construction.  A court hearing in the case is scheduled next week, and the group is holding a fundraiser on Saturday.

Meanwhile, plans for the Target store continue. Delia McLinden, Senior Communications Specialist for Target, confirmed that the store is scheduled to open on site in the fall of 2010.

And debate continues on everything from the scope of the development to who would live in the proposed housing.

Residents involved in Fix Wilson Yard did not return phone or email messages.

But the group's website alleges that the redevelopment plan "centers on a failed housing model, funded in part by a whopping $52M in tax increment financing dollars, that will erase our past progress and become a new slum for Uptown." 

The website also references changes made to development plans over time, stating that the original plan included mixed-income housing, a movie theater, a Target and a $35 million TIF commitment from taxpayers.

Now, the plan has changed to "178 units of 100% low-income movie theaters, and no confirmation that Target is coming," the group states.

Alderman Helen Shiller (D-46) disagrees, claiming that Fix Wilson Yard has mischaracterized the development. 

"They're vehemently opposed to affordable housing," she says, arguing that the definition of "low-income" housing cited by Fix Wilson Yard is set to the metropolitan area median income. In fact the threshold for eligibility at the development would include almost half of city residents. 

Shiller claims that Fix Wilson Yard has described the development like (public housing development) "Cabrini Green, with thousands of units."  In fact, she says, the development will consist of two apartment buildings, six or seven stories high, and will also include the Target and an additional 25,000 square feet of retail space. 

Some neighborhood organizations welcome the development at Wilson Yard.

Jamiko Rose, at the Organization of the NorthEast (ONE), says that the development is a "model of what good development in a community looks like," and that there was an "extensive process developing Wilson Yard." 

Mark Kaplan, from Northside Action for Justice (NAJ) also voices support, citing a referendum held last November in which 65 percent of voters supported the use of tax increment financing funds for affordable housing.

"Any position that gets that kind of a mandate shows that a clear majority of the community's residents support it,"  he says.

Kaplan also says, "In 2000, there was another TIF proposed at Broadway and Lawrence to convert Goldblatt's into high-end condos... The same people [at Fix Wilson Yard were] almost unanimously in support of that Lawrence TIF."

The hearing in the Fix Wilson Yard lawsuit is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 19, at 50 W. Washington, Room 2308. It is open to the public.




WILLIAM FORD, 05-13-2009

Wow, great journalism. Ha.

FRANK EDWARDS, 05-14-2009

Via Uptown Update (

From the May 13, Fix Wilson Yard Newsletter:
Yesterday, we received the judge's ruling on the defendants' motion to dismiss. Fix Wilson Yard is reviewing its options after learning about an unfavorable outcome. While we are disappointed by the judge's ruling, we remain committed to our cause. We are in the process of conferring with our attorneys and weighing our options, including filing an amended complaint and/or an appeal. Once a course of action is determined, we will communicate it to you.

Crain's: Residents' suit against Wilson Yard project thrown out (


If you live in Uptown, you quickly learn that if you want to get at the truth, it's important to be critical of what's not said.

It's true that the housing for WY would qualify 50% of Chicagoans. What wasn't said is that developer Peter Holsten filed a report to IHDA stating that 79% of the housing is for people with extremely low and very low income. The remainder is for people with low income. Of the 21% of housing that fits the qualifications for 50% of Chicagoans, displaced CHA residents have first priority.... so none of it will really qualify as housing for 50% of the residents of Chicago. There is nothing wrong with affordable housing. There is something wrong with affordable housing that doesn't meet the same standards used throughout the rest of the country. It doesn't even support HUD's standards.

The "clear mandate" voted by residents was in a few precincts and voters were not informed of the issues involved... a frequent tactic used by Marc Kaplan. By the way, the other TIF that provided market-rate housing also provided 10% CPAN housing and an additional 50 units of housing for people with both mental illness and untreated alcohol/drug addiction at 1207 W. Leland, which was also a part of the TIF.

As far as Ms. Rose's observation that WY had community input, community input was obtained. No one is arguing that. The argument is that community input was not followed... a huge difference.

Ald. Shiller will sometimes mention the WY Task Force made up of community residents. She's right, there was such a task force. What she doesn't say is that the role of the task force was to disseminate information only. They met during the business day but the meetings were often canceled with less than 24 hours notice. People with jobs had an extreme difficulty going to these meetings where their voice didn't count anyway. The Aldi with its main entrance in the back of the store is a clue to the bad urban planning involved. No resident was aware this was happening until the walls were going up.

There is a consistent theme of supporters of this development that anyone against it must be intolerant of people living in poverty. I am a licensed clinical social worker who is a recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award from the University of Chicago Medical Center, co-founder of a homeless shelter for people with HIV, and a former Franciscan friar who took in the homeless in Cincinnati. My entire adulthood has been spent as an advocate for the disenfranchised and I am against this development. It doesn't have the support of affordable housing experts; urban planners have said the plan is awful; real community input has been lacking; and the promoters used divisive tactics to push through their own agenda. The fact that 2,400 people signed an online petition and this is the 2nd lawsuit filed against Ald. Shiller's actions in less than 12 months says there's more to this story than what was reported.