Chicago Protesters: "Take TIFs Off the Menu!"
Some unusual offerings were on the menu Tuesday at the Chicago restaurant Fulton’s on the River:
“River Point Plaza: A generous portion of useless private space, drizzled with the sweat of working families. Served with a side of your tax dollars.” Price: $29.5 million.
“United Airlines: A flight of public money reserved to shift 350 jobs from the suburbs to downtown." Despite the $30 million price tag, "peanuts and beverages are not included with this flight."
The mock menu was handed out by members of the Grassroots Collaborative in protest of public TIF (tax increment financing) money being used to finance private developments. Among those private projects is the new River Point Plaza, to be built on land owned by real estate developer Larry Levy and his family, who preside over a “vast restaurant kingdom” that includes Fulton's.
TIFs are meant to revitalize “blighted” areas and create jobs by allowing a portion of property tax funds to subsidize development. But in Chicago, the program has long been surrounded by scandal. Wealthy areas like the downtown riverfront are designated TIFs, allowing taxpayer funds that otherwise would have gone to parks and schools to be turned over to private developers.