Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Coming soon.....Snow Mountain on the lakefront!

Bid to save Lucas Museum relies on complex financing plan which will leave taxpayers on the hook as bought off politicians try to please Mr. Lucas. This proposal has got to be the ugliest building I ever saw. 

My only question is why?

A rendering of what Lucas Museum would look like at a proposed new site at McCormick Place East.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Hail Mary plan to demolish and replace McCormick Place East to make way for the Lucas museum relies on legislative approval of a complex financing scheme that calls for extending the life of entertainment taxes and having the movie mogul write a $743 million check.

The Illinois General Assembly, still embroiled in a marathon budget stalemate, would be required to do some heavy-lifting to keep the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago — and so would Chicago taxpayers.

The General Assembly would be asked to:

• Authorize $1.5 billion in new financing for a Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority that maxed out its credit card to build a new hotel and a basketball arena for DePaul University that would double as an “event center” for McCormick Place.

That would allow the McPier Authority to issue $1.165 billion in new debt that includes the $665 million Lucas Museum and the $500 million McCormick Place expansion over Martin Luther King Drive, connecting the two newest McCormick Place buildings. The “bridge building” would include 250,000 square feet of space.

George Lucas would start things off by writing a $743 million check that would be placed in an escrow fund and used to make the first 15 years of debt payments.

The upfront grant would cover the cost of building the museum on a site that currently houses Arie Crown Theater as well as $35 million for in-kind services” to compensate McCormick Place for the use of Lakeside Center’s underground heating and cooling systems and the use of 1,000 subterranean parking spaces.

• Extend for six more years a 2.5 percent hotel tax increase due to expire in 2060 and similarly extend tax increases on downtown restaurants, rental cars and airport departures. All of those taxes were used to bankroll previous McCormick Place expansions.

• Transfer the 2 percent hotel tax increase that financed construction of U.S. Cellular Field from the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority to McPier and extend the life of that tax increase from 2033, when the stadium bonds are due to retire, until 2066.

• Authorize changes to the 2016 and 2017 “incentive payments” that McPier agreed to pay under terms of a 2011 settlement with the state. Lawmakers would then be asked to authorize a “continuing appropriation” to cover those incentives payments for 2018 through 2023, then end the obligation.

Deputy Mayor Steve Koch acknowledged that it’s a lot to ask from a General Assembly still embroiled in a marathon budget stalemate between Democratic legislative leaders and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner over Rauner’s demand for pro-business, anti-union reforms.

Deputy Mayor Steve Koch | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times
But he argued that the deal is worth it to keep Lucas’ massive investment in Chicago and use the site change necessitated by a legal challenge as a vehicle to demolish Lakeside Center, open up 12 new acres of lakefront park space and create 1.5 million square feet of contiguous floor space at McCormick Place.

“The Lakeside building is 45 years old. It’s an architectural issue sitting on the lake, and it’s an old building. At minimum in the next five or so years, it’s going to need a $100 million-plus roof. It’s going to need $225 million or so over the next 15 to 20 years to keep it alive,” Koch said.

“This is an alternative to that. . . . Take advantage of the fact that the Lucas’ are willing to put up this money upfront. That gives us debt capacity for the next 16 years, which we otherwise wouldn’t have. Use that money to go do this bond issue that will finance both MPEA and Lucas. Then we can build this new campus” for McCormick Place.

Koch noted that the Lakeside Center is used for just six or seven shows a year, but they happen to be the city’s biggest, most important shows.

“We need to replace that space. You can’t just knock it down and forget about it. People have advocated that. That’s not realistic. It’s not going to happen. If we want to replace the Lakeside Building, you have to have alternative space. This allows us to replace it with a modern building that would be the largest single contiguous exhibition space on earth,” Koch said.

McPier CEO Lori Healey | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

McPier CEO Lori Healey said the north end of Lakeside Center could remain in use until construction is completed on the “bridge building.” Lucas could begin construction on the south end immediately by demolishing Arie Crown Theater.

McPier also intends to forge ahead with construction of a new parking garage at 18th Street and Lake Shore Drive.

The original deal to build the Lucas Museum on Soldier Field’s south parking lot called for the Park District to build that garage to replace lost game-day parking for Bears fans.

Now the McPier authority will take over those plans with Lucas someday adding a “more decorative pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive.

Convention “customers will just be over the moon if this could actually happen because the space is contiguous. You’re not running back and forth between different buildings all the time. It’s a more efficient cost for them. This is much easier for contractors to set up and take care of when you’re putting a show together than going back and forth and moving product,” Healey said.

The deal also includes compensation for the Chicago Park District, which owns the land beneath the Lakeside Center and is due to receive roughly $50 million in rent from a lease that runs through 2042. Annual payments range from $871,000 this year to $3.2 million in the final year of the agreement, records show.

To make the Park District whole, the agreement calls for revenue from 1,000 of the 2,000 parking spaces beneath McCormick Place East to go to the Park District.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported exclusively last week that McCormick Place East — denounced by former Mayor Richard M. Daley as a “Berlin Wall” along the lakefront that destroyed the Chicago skyline — would be demolished to make way for the Lucas Museum and 12 new acres of lakefront park space under a mayoral compromise in the works.

The mayor’s original plan to give the “Star Wars” creator 17 acres of lakefront land near Soldier Field has been embroiled in a legal challenge filed by Friends of the Parks.

The lawsuit was kept alive by a federal judge who has made it clear he sympathizes with the group’s central argument: that a 99-year lease “effectively surrenders control” of prime lakefront property to a museum that is “not for the benefit of the public,” but would “promote private and/or commercial interests.”

Although the same legal issues could be raised about that site, Koch and Healey are hoping that, by removing an eyesore of a building and opening up 12 new acres of green space, they can negotiate a settlement with Friends of the Park that averts a legal challenge.

Healey argued that the creation of 12 new acres of lakefront park land and the fact that the Lucas museum would be constructed “within the footprint of an existing building” creates a “compelling story” that would make it “difficult to challenge.”

Koch urged Friends of the Parks to “think very carefully about what their goals are” and not look a gift horse in the mouth.

“The man committed to do this here. He and his wife are . . . deeply committed to this community. . . . It is incumbent upon us to try to help them give a gift. At some point, they will lose patience. I can’t predict when that is,” Koch said. “But any rational person at some point would say, `If the people of Illinois don’t want my gift and somebody else is making it incredibly easy for me to make a gift, at some point, they’re going to give up.”

Chicago businesswoman Mellody Hobson has made it clear that her husband is determined to build and enjoy the legacy museum project in his lifetime and is not willing to wait out a protracted legal challenge.

Pressed on how long the couple was willing to wait, she said, “I want this to be in Chicago. I’m going to try to press to give it as much time as we have. There’s no date. That’s not how we have dealt with this. . . . We’re just trying to get this as far along as we can and hope it works.”

Despite the complex approvals needed, she said, “I’m very hopeful. I’m doing everything I can to make it happen. . . . I wouldn’t be spending this time and energy if I thought it was a lost cause.”

While his top aides were briefing reporters on the complex financing plan, Emanuel was telling reporters, “There’s going to be no change in the sense that no taxpayer support for this effort.”

The mayor can say that he’s holding fast to that promise only because the five tax increases he wants to extend would be used to expand McCormick Place. Never mind that the expansion would not be necessary if he wasn’t planning to tear down MCormick Place East to make way for the Lucas Museum.

“This is a win, win, win. You get about 12 acres of open land you never had before. You have the largest convention floor space continuous in the world, which will allow Chicago to compete and win against Orlando and Las Vegas. And you’d have a cultural enrichment that continues to attract people to the city from around the globe,” he said.


  1. Anonymous4/19/2016

    Rahm is out of his mind, proposing a project like this when it can't even pay its bills.

  2. Anonymous4/19/2016

    It looks like a pimple, put some Clearacil on it and it might go away.

  3. Anonymous4/20/2016

    Why are we pandering to an uber rich guy like Lucas? The museum would likely attract people, but for how long and at what cost? Why should we fund this guy's ego?

  4. say, isn't that Lucas a Jewish fellow and his wife a negress???

    1. Anonymous4/30/2016

      Yes to both questions but they are not from the University of Chicago.

  5. Anonymous4/21/2016

    off topic, but I liked this one.

    Why men shouldn't write advice columns

    Dear John, I hope you can help me. The other day, I set off for work, leaving my husband in the house watching TV. My car stalled and then it broke down about a mile down the road, and I had to walk back to get my husband's help. When I got home, I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in our bedroom with the neighbor's daughter! I am 32, my husband is 34 and the neighbor's daughter is 19 We have been married for 10 years. When I confronted him, he broke down and admitted they have been having an affair for the past six months. He won't go to counseling, and I'm afraid I am a wreck and need advice urgently. Can you please help? Sincerely - Sheila Dear Sheila, A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking to make sure there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clean, check the vacuum pipes and hoses to the intake manifold and also check all grounding wires. If none of these approaches solves the problem it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the injectors. I hope this helps. Regards - John

    1. Anonymous4/22/2016

      Off topic - but that is a good one !!

  6. Anonymous4/22/2016

    Off topic
    Will some one please explain this Republican c'tee. mess. Who's telling the truth?

    1. Anonymous4/22/2016

      I don't pretend to know everything but here is what I do know. Madigan has engaged in a sneaky tactic in prior elections of trying to put Democrats into Republican positions. Once elected - these "Republicans" do nothing. Therefore they control all aspects of the political game. DEms have so many voters in Chicago/Cook Cty that they can basically assign a certain percent to go and pull Republican primary ballots and vote for their fake Rep candidate. Now- this year we had a guy Steven Graves who has been a Democrat precinct Captain in the 19th Ward for decades. Has donated money in the past - only to Democrats. Now he claims to have had some Republican conversion. The Republican Party has decided to fight back against those "candidates" they fairly believe to be fake Republicans - by refusing to seat them in their positions. Democrats are complaining. Why? The other candidate Danny Carbol is pretty clearly a Republican and has been active for years. You tell me. I think even if Graves did have some sort of conversion (I doubt) - maybe he should get involved a little before he tries to run the Party. My guess is that he will beat this drum for awhile (to embarrass Republicans) - but will get nowhere. Lookup Kristen McQueary the political writer and google this. Just when you think the Democrats wont go lower, well they do.

  7. Anonymous4/22/2016

    I really wish you'd dump that Guy Fawkes mask at the top of your page.

  8. Anonymous4/22/2016

    And your guy Rahm is privatizing the engineers of CPS. So, now that you have that, you have just about 500 more residents leaving the city. If he continues with his unspoken quest to privatize the teachers (hint: the strike and turning everything into a charter), what you have is a city that will lose probably 20,000 more taxpaying residents. I know it's hard for police officers to fathom, but teachers work hard, and they are doing the same job many of you do, but a bit earlier on (before they become hardened criminals)...nonetheless, what we have is 20,000 teachers (give or take, of a 27,000 person union), leaving.

    What a lot of you whining cops don't get (and I get that you are whining) is that you are falling prey to Emanuel and his ilk's desire to pit union people against one another.

    Divided we fall (but united, we stand)...

    1. Anonymous4/22/2016

      Wow. This is a textbook example of how to influence people. Insult them. Call them whiners. (I rarely hear cops "whine"). I do hear CPS teachers constantly complaining about their jobs. In my head I am thinking - if it is so bad, why don't you quit. After all you are all so well educated. I see endless examples of mentally deranged teachers on television and on Facebook hurling insults and attacking the character of individuals. Calling people Scabs on Facebook and threatening them by letting them know "you know" who they are. Your post perfectly exemplifies why people are getting sick of the CTU and their leftist allies. Stop proselytizing and start teaching. I urge anyone reading this to google what the average ACT scores are for teachers nationally and in Chicago. I believe Chicago it is a 19. It reminds me of an old adage....those who can....DO! P.S. - not a cop and don't work for the city or any governmental agency. Relentlessly terrible test scores...and yet they want raises. In the real world if you were screwing up at work and then demanded a raise from your boss - she would give you a pink slip instead. And who said cops are all for Emanuel? Or this blog for that matter?

    2. Anonymous4/22/2016

      A perfect example of why our school system is continuing to churn out worthless kids who know nothing.

    3. Anonymous4/22/2016

      You teachers don't give a crap about anyone else and you expect us to care about you? Your incomes are well above people in the private sector who have similar IQs ie ACT tests. Look it up. Go to that website I like to call "LETMEGOOGLETHATFORYOU"

  9. Anonymous4/24/2016

    These teachers are making too much$

  10. Anonymous4/24/2016

    I believe it was the CTU leftist leadership who thought it would be just great to add the far left actual Communists to come out and agitate with you. Add to that the rest of the "hate the police" fringe nut jobs like the Black Lives Matter low lifes to the mix - and you pretty well pissed off most normal people, but especially CPD. P.S. - Your VP Sharkey is an ardent Socialist (which probably means he is a Communist). If you studied up on leftist ideology they have historically targeted unions as just a means to an end. In this case the overthrow of our way of life. And don't pretend you don't realize this....their signs were all woven into yours at your agitation rallies. P.S.S. - If you want people to sympathize with you, don't insult them. Also don't intimidate them. Also don't tie up main roads and screw up their daily lives.

  11. Anonymous4/25/2016

    The my way or the highway approach Rauner is taking is going to make him a one term governor. Whether he's right or wrong on the budget issue has become almost a non-issue. What's getting the headlines are all the state agencies, facilities and programs that are shutting down or cutting back. People are viewing him as someone who can't get anything done. And with the financial woes and economy it appears only hedge funders like himself are the only ones in the state doing well. On the other hand, Rahm is whoring himself out and throwing the police department under the bus to curry favor with the black community who despise him regardless of what he provides and how many ghetto lotteries the city pays off. And Dart releasing videos of corrections officers fighting with inmates at the jail, if you're going to release videos, maybe you should include the incidents that precipitated the fights, like inmates throwing feces and glasses of urine on the corrections officers. Seems he's pretty far up Preckwinkles arse. So who does that benefit besides Dart? Just asking.

  12. Anonymous4/27/2016

    What exactly does a Star Wars museum contribute to the overall betterment of the city? We're broke, the city hasn't made pension payments in 30 years. The president of the teachers union and the mayor are at each others throats with the students bearing the ultimate brunt of the outcome. So while we're wondering if this school year will be completed or whether parts of the curriculum will have to be made up in subsequent years, the Mayor and all the west coast glitterati, including his Hollywood agent brother are pushing a project, whose cost overruns will surely be dropped in the taxpayers lap. Anyone here banking on Rahm running for re-election....successfully? The carcass that was once Chicago has been picked over and fleeced so many times in the last 50 years and yet the vultures continue to circle to see what's left for them. The only thing I can see holding it together is the will of the people who refuse to cave in to the outlandish demands of local activists groups.

  13. Anonymous4/30/2016

    is that FRAN HURLEYS photo or a guy in drag????

  14. Anonymous5/04/2016

    This project when completed, will attract over 200,000,00 tourist to our city each year. If each one spends $2,250, thats the end of our fiscal crisis.