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Activists Slam Use Of TIF Money For Park At West Loop Tower

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Dozens of protesters rallied at the site of a new West Loop office development along the Chicago River on Tuesday, upset that taxpayers' money is supporting the construction.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports members of the Grassroots Collaborative — a coalition of several community groups — gathered at the site of River Point, a 45-story office tower planned on the Chicago River -- at Lake and Canal Streets, where the river splits into its north and south branches..

The plan for the skyscraper includes a $29 million tax increment financing (TIF) subsidy to assist in construction of a 1.5-acre riverfront sculpture park that will be open to the public, but Collaborative Executive Director Amisha Patel said that's not right.

"What this really amounts to is a very expensive corporate plaza, with $29.5 million of taxpayer money that's being used to put some grass and then some trees over the Metra tracks, and to make it pretty for downtown," Patel said. "We're here today because we've got young people and parents from across the city who have been fighting for green space, and for parks in their neighborhoods."

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports


Patel said people in neighborhoods need parks, and they are told there's not enough money, but the city is using tax increment financing to put a public park over Metra tracks next to the River Point site.

"TIFs are meant to help low-income communities to get a leg up, to get more resources, to spur economic development. Why is there a TIF on LaSalle Street downtown? Why is that money being used for gleaming skyscrapers, for corporate plazas? That makes no sense." Patel said. "That's not gonna help address blight in our communities. In fact, it just makes it worse, because it's taking resources away that could be going to our neighborhoods."

After rallying at the construction site, the group then marched to City Hall to deliver a letter to the Mayor's office, calling for an end to the LaSalle Street TIF District.

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