To the Editor:
Herald readers who do not also follow Crain’s may have missed last week’s profile of the University of Chicago’s Jim Hennessy (Oct. 2, “Hyde Park’s real estate catalyst”). According to the article, Mr. Hennessy “believes the market still is too soft to support a lot (of residential housing)” and he admits that the condo tower that was to be the second phase of the TIF-subsidized Harper Court development “may never get built.” Yet the article closes by quoting Mr. Hennessy as saying, “we need to get … more new apartments and attract more people to live here.”
As plaintiffs in the lawsuit opposing the university’s oversized Vue53 development on the so-called McMobil lot (see our website at save53rdstreet.org), we would like to know what the real story is. The Harper Court development has already received $23 million in TIF subsidies, and now we are told that the next phase of that development is suddenly infeasible because the residential market is too soft to support it. At the same time just a few blocks away, the university is pushing a residential development that we think is far too large and claims it is infeasible to build anything smaller. Are these two developments not subject to the same market forces? Why is the university backing away from building Phase 2 of Harper Court as too large for the housing market while refusing to consider a more reasonably sized development on the McMobil site?
James Des Jardins