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Friday, December 7, 2012

My translation of a Wolf Point letter from Alderman Reilly

Posted By on 12.07.12 at 04:31 PM

Alderman Brendan Reilly
I read the public letter from Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd) explaining the latest events surrounding the controversial Wolf Point development deal.

Here's the full letter, if you want to read it.

I thought I'd translate it from City Hall Spin into plain English. Just another public service from your friends at the Reader . . .

Letter: "As you know, last week I had this project removed from the Chicago Plan Commission's November 27th Agenda. I made this decision after previously undisclosed details were revealed by the Developer just one day before the November 27th public hearing."

Translation: We spent all summer negotiating with those motherbleepers and they never told us they were about those 1,800 hotel units.

Letter: "To make matters worse, the Filing did not include the long list of previously negotiated changes and improvements to the proposal."

Translation: They really hung me out to dry.

Letter: "Since deferring this item from the November Plan Commission Agenda, I have spent the past week [evaluating] the new details recently released by the Developer that call for a hotel use and the potential for additional residential units on the site."

Translation: Considering all this, you're probably wondering why I waste my time with these people at all.

Letter: "Although Hines/Kennedy have been aggressively lobbying for a process that would allow them to secure all necessary city approvals by the end of 2012, in light of the recent events, I have informed the development team that their preferred timeline is simply no longer feasible."

Translation: That's Kennedy as in the Kennedys!

Letter: "As a result, I have again requested that the Chicago Plan Commission defer this item from its December 20th Agenda, for the purpose of vetting new information."

Translation: So that should answer your question.

Letter: "We expect to receive an updated traffic study next week, at which time I will dissect that study with the traffic engineers at CDOT to ensure the proper data and methodology were used to provide us with a realistic forecast of the revised traffic impacts."

Translation: I know you don't trust traffic studies by developers, but this is the best I could do.

Letter: "You will note that we have dramatically reduced the maximum allowable hotel rooms on the site from the 1,800 rooms the Developer attempted to incorporate into their plans last week—down to a maximum potential number of hotel keys on the site to no more than 450 rooms."

Translation: You're getting 450 hotel units, whether you like it or not.

Letter: "It is important to note that we are also requiring the Developer to memorialize a commitment that any potential hotel on the site will be a Limited Service Hotel (not a full service hotel) that does not include any conference or ballroom space. This is quite significant because a Limited Service Hotel has far less impact on parking needs and traffic circulation than a full service hotel does."

Translation: Hey, it could be worse.

Letter: "In the interest of providing full transparency, I will also be co-hosting a third public meeting in conjunction with the River North and Fulton River District associations on the date the Developer had otherwise hoped this project would be approved by the Chicago Plan Commission: Thursday, December 20th."

Translation: Notice, I didn't mention Friends of Wolf Point.

Letter: "Based upon the piecemeal manner in which information and important project details have been shared . . . I have determined that this third public meeting is absolutely necessary . . ."

Translation: One more time: I had nothing to do with the 1,800 units!

Letter: "It is important to me that you have adequate time for review and comment on the revised proposal."

Translation: Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Letter: "I want to also inform you of the additional, extraordinary layers of process that I will require of the Developer for Phase II and III of the project, moving forward."

Translation: Brace yourself for more meetings.

Letter: "Requiring these additional hearings before the Chicago Plan Commission is uncharacteristic of how we process all other planned developments downtown and throughout the City of Chicago."

Translation: Usually, we just whiz the stuff through.

Letter: "Phased developments are usually only required to submit plans for a Site Plan Approval which is processed administratively by city staff and is entirely hidden from public process."

Translation: The good stuff usually happens behind closed doors.

Letter: "I have directed the Developer to memorialize those mandatory trips to the Plan Commission in their revised planned development documents."

Translation: But not in this case—I swear!

Letter: "I have also insisted upon an additional layer of transparency and review that is not typically required in phased developments . . . This will ensure consideration of new or unanticipated development in the area that exists at the time of Site Plan Review."

Translation: Maybe this time they won't spring any last-minute surprises on us.

Letter: " . . . [B]ased upon the uniqueness of this site, the complexity of this proposal and the track record of the Development consultants, I feel obliged to require these additional layers of accountability on behalf of the constituents I was elected to represent."

Translation: One more time, people—I didn't know about those hotels!

Letter: "By deferring this item from the December 20th Plan Commission Agenda, you will have more than a month . . . to review and digest the sixth revised traffic study that contemplates the 'worst case scenario' of potential uses on the site for Phase II and Phase III."

Translation: Trust me, had I known this deal was going to be such a royal pain in the ass, I'd have asked the mayor to remap Wolf Point into Alderman Fioretti's ward.

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