McCormick area concerns: traffic, parking, security, Gazette Chicago
June 02, 2014
SPRINGFIELD - State Senator Andy Manar and state Representative Sue Scherer will be in Springfield Monday to sign an agreement that would increase pressure on stakeholders to honor that agreement. The signing will be held at the Old Lincoln Depot at 1:30 p.m.
The Rail Community Benefits Agreement was developed by the Faith Coalition for the Common Good early on in the rail consolidation planning stage. The Illinois Department of Transportation, the city of Springfield, and other key partners have already signed on.
The agreement's 5-point platform includes local jobs with equal opportunity for employment, assistance for those who will be relocated by the rail project, economic development, funding for job training, and citizen-led monitoring of transportation infrastructure projects.
The agreement would ensure jobs and job training opportunities for residents most affected by this project, such as people living along the rail corridors and in the East Springfield community.
By Dolly Duplantier
June 6, 2014
More than one year ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Metropolitan Pier Exposition Authority (MPEA) announced plans for a McCormick Place entertainment district as part of Emanuel’s Elevate Chicago program. Since that time, the City has worked to acquire property to build a 10,000 seat sports arena and event center, a headquarters hotel, and a boutique hotel in the 3rd Ward’s Prairie District neighborhood.
Third Ward Alderman Pat Dowell has worked with City officials and neighborhood groups to keep area residents involved. The Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance (PDNA) recently held a community meeting to provide details regarding the McCormick expansion and DePaul arena development.
Tina Feldstein, PDNA president, said residents are reconciled to the development and feel there now is more transparency over details of the City’s plans.
“More of an attempt was made to soften the transition of the expansion for the neighborhood,” Feldstein said. “The development and ordinances have been approved, but there are still a lot of unresolved issues involving parking, traffic, and security.” Feldstein said an advisory committee is working on behalf of the neighborhood with the MPEA, the City, and Dowell. “They need to look at [plans] very seriously,” said Feldstein. “Smart and sensible decisions need to be made. They can’t skip over the issues of parking, traffic, and security. Decisions made will affect the reputation of the area and the city. It will have an impact on the South Loop and the city as a whole. They want people to come. If it’s just gridlock, then no one will come.”
“I continue to work with the residents of the South Loop community and MPEA to address concerns regarding parking, traffic, and security near the event center and headquarters hotel,” said Dowell. “My goal has been to make this a win-win for all parties involved.” According to Dowell, the City Council and the MPEA board officially approved a community benefits agreement. Peter Strazzabosco, deputy commissioner for Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development, said the agreement’s framework will receive further fine tuning but provides basic parameters for hiring goals and other issues, including traffic, parking, and security.
He said the agreement calls for a traffic and parking study as well as a security plan. The security plan would involve heightened coordination between Chicago police and MPEA security during McCormick Place events, shows, and conferences. In addition, the agreement establishes hiring goals, including employing no less than 25% minority and five percent women-owned businesses. It also establishes other opportunities for community residents with appropriate skills to participate in the project during and after construction in both permanent and temporary jobs. “The project will increase Chicago’s convention business by an additional $123 million a year,” said Strazzabosco. “It will also generate 3,600 permanent jobs and 10,400 temporary jobs.”
Mary Kay Marquisos, MPEA spokesperson, said the City expects to break ground in early 2015, with the headquarters hotel and event center completed sometime early 2017. In March, the City Council approved $55 million in tax increment financing to be allocated toward the headquarters hotel. Initially, the hotel was to be located at the southeast corner of Cermak Road and Michigan Avenue. The current site is now 300 E. Cermak Rd., the northeast corner of Cermak and Prairie Avenue.
“It will incorporate the ABC [American Book Company] building, and the complex will now be closer to the event center and McCormick Place,” said Strazzabosco. The event center will occupy the north side of Cermak between Indiana and Prairie Avenues. Strazzabosco said negotiations are continuing for the property at the southeast corner of Cermak and Michigan. A portion of that site now is being targeted for the 500-room boutique hotel.
“The alderman has made an effort to bring wins for the community, including keeping the Harriet Rees house,” said Feldstein, noting Dowell said she is proud to have secured a new park at 21st Street and Prairie Avenue for the area as well.
Workers will relocate the historic Harriet F. Rees house to make way for the event center. Currently located at 2110 S. Prairie Ave., the Chicago landmark was built in 1888. Marquisos said the Commission on Chicago Landmarks approved the move in April; the house will be relocated to a vacant lot at 2017 S. Prairie Ave. this summer.
Feldstein said officials would hold follow-up meetings for the community.
Sacramento News Review
By Nick Miller
May 22, 2014
On Monday, the Sacramento Kings and Mayor Kevin Johnson kicked housing, environment, local business and fair-wage advocates to the new arena’s curb. Since March, a group called the Sacramento Coalition for Shared Prosperity has been trying to negotiate a deal with the Kings. Its members want to secure things like well-paying jobs and traffic mitigation as part of the arena deal.
They argue that this is more than fair, since the city is forking over a public subsidy north of $300 million. Just like many city leaders, the group also points to the Staples Center and L.A. Live down south, where developers have given millions of dollars and more to neighborhood groups as part a “community benefits agreement.”
But during a press conference on Monday at the footprint of the forthcoming new Kings home, team officials and the mayor announced the formation of a different group, Sacramento First, to execute and oversee its own community-benefits agreement. Not only were SCSP members not invited, they also didn’t even know about the new group or the event until that morning.
“They’ve sort of not been talking to us,” says SCSP member Tamie Dramer, who also staffs the Sacramento Housing Alliance, a group advocating for fair and affordable housing. Even though SCSP wasn’t standing behind the mayor at the press conference, Dramer went anyway to distribute material to attendees.
Her fliers explained SCSP’s goals: fair labor practices and sustainable wages for arena and new-development workers; 380 affordable-housing units and grants for more subsidized light-rail and bus tickets for arena employees and money to pay for game-time transit costs; environmental development; small-business loans and compensation for lost revenue during construction; and other community-preservation assurances.
That may seem like quite a list of demands. But SCSP says it’s common. Down south at the Staples Center, a neighborhood group’s CBA with its developer included $1 million in parks-and-rec improvements, living-wage contracts, an agreement to hire residents within 3 miles of the project and $100,000 for hiring programs, a 20 percent affordable-housing requirement, $650,000 in interest-free loans to build more affordable housing, and many other benefits.
On another Los Angeles project, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy worked with a different neighborhood group and got the University of Southern California to agree to a CBA worth tens of millions in 2012. “We’re not even asking for close to that,” Dramer says. The 30 Los Angeles-based neighborhood groups who negotiated the L.A. Live deal are also part of an oversight committee to ensure follow-through by the developer.
SCSP says this is needed here in Sacramento, too, so that Kings officials hold true to any promises. But the mayor’s new Sacramento First group is weighted heavily by a narrow swath of business and development interests with ties to the Kings, plus pro-arena City Hall insiders.
Councilman Allen Warren, who’s voted yes on all the arena financing, plus a Kings lawyer, are Sacramento First’s chairpersons. The group’s members include arena architect firm AECOM, labor unions working on the project, pro-building group and unofficial mayoral-office attack dog Region Builders, chamber of commerce groups, and even Johnson’s chief of staff Daniel Conway.
Will this K.J.-Kings friendly coalition keep other groups like SCSP from achieving any sort of meaningful CBA like the one in L.A.?
“That is not broad community representation,” worries Dramer. “That is them conducting oversight on themselves.” She remains hopeful, however, that the Kings will listen, even as they were set to increase their negotiating leverage with Tuesday’s council vote.
Sacramento First announced two CBA goals on Monday. For instance, the Kings would up the number of apprentice jobs in high-need communities from 60 to 70, and the new arena would bring over Sleep Train Arena’s existing employees and labor contracts. Both of those are positives, Dramer says, but they represent relatively minor concessions that fall far short of CBAs negotiated in other cities.
Paulina Gonzalez with the California Reinvestment Coalition, and who also worked on the USC project, says the Kings and the mayor’s move to create a separate CBA group is typical. “That’s one of the tactics I’ve seen time and again,” she says. “It’s a way of addressing the issues when you’re really not.”
A Kings contact for Sacramento First wouldn’t discuss with SN&R why SCSP was not invited to be part of the coalition. Kings vice president of strategic initiatives and former Johnson chief of staff Kunal Merchant did not respond to SN&R’s email. The mayor’s office also did not respond to an email.
Nationwide, CBAs are common for sports arenas. The development of arenas often impact local businesses (read “Not OK on K Street” by Cosmo Garvin, SN&R Bites, page 15, to see how this is already happening on K Street). Poorer neighbors, parking and traffic also change in unexpected ways because of arena projects, and this costs money to the city and residents. That’s why CBAs exist.
Groups sometimes sue developers using the California Environmental Quality Act to get them to negotiate. Dramer’s coalition recently hired local environmental attorney Don Mooney—who recently litigated over the Cordova Hills sprawl project to no avail—in the hopes of encouraging the team to communicate with it.
The group could sue the Kings using CEQA, but its ability to do so will be hindered by a special, eleventh-hour law passed last fall by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. “We’re researching our avenues, legal and otherwise, for making the Kings talk to us,” Dramer says.