* The Sun-Times initially broke the story about a mega-project near McCormick Place that would house DePaul’s basketball team, two major hotels and possibly a new casino…
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to announce this week plans for a $300 million 12,000-seat arena for DePaul University at McCormick Place — a proposal that will call for millions in taxpayer dollars, sources tell the Chicago Sun-Times.
The mayor will also announce plans to build two mega hotels on McPier property in the hopes of aggressively growing convention and meeting business in Chicago. […]
“If I was a betting person, I would say McCormick Place is where you’re going to find a Chicago casino,” said an official who has taken part in development discussions. “I would guarantee you that’s where it’s going.” […]
A source with knowledge of the proposal said one of the mega hotels is slated for the site directly north of McCormick Place between Indiana Street and Prairie Avenue. The other would be on the north side of Cermak Road, which is owned by Centerpoint, a huge industrial real estate property owner, sources say. The west side of McCormick Place, near Cermak, is the area tentatively being considered for the arena.
Sources familiar with the plan said the city would attempt to sell the proposal as not just a basketball arena for DePaul but as a place to attract mid-size convention shows that are too small for McCormick Place and too large for Navy Pier. […]
Gov. Pat Quinn is ruling out any direct infusion of money from the state budget.
“We’re not discussing any scenarios where there would be direct state support. That’s not something the state can afford right now,” said Brooke Anderson, a Quinn spokeswoman said.
* Deets from the Trib…
The facility would be partly funded with $125 million in public money — $55 million in special taxing district funds and $70 million in McPier bond funds supported by hotel taxes, a second source familiar with the deal said. DePaul University would chip in another $70 million, the source said. […]
Emanuel spoke with Illinois House GOP leader Tom Cross and told him the project would require state legislation so that McPier bond funds and city tax increment financing funds could be directed toward it, a spokeswoman for Cross said.
House Speaker Michael Madigan said he’s talked “a little bit, not a lot” with the mayor about the proposed project and said it’s uncertain what action the legislature might need to take to make it happen.
“It is certainly worthy of consideration because it’d be a huge construction project, but we’d like to get the details,” Madigan said.
Chicago will phase out its 55 percent subsidy for retiree health care by January 2017 but continue that coverage for the oldest retirees, under a mayoral plan that will free taxpayers from a $108.7 million a year burden. Thirty thousand retired city employees will be forced to switch to Obamacare.
“With an increasing retiree population, earlier retirement ages and longer life spans, the ability of the city to continue to provide these benefits is totally untenable,” City Comptroller Amer Ahmad told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday.
“It’s far too expensive and could have an adverse impact on our credit worthiness and add a significant long-term liability to the city’s financials,” he said. “This is just a number that continues to grow over the years. We have to be financially responsible.”
*** UPDATE *** From AFSCME…
“AFSCME is gravely concerned that the Emanuel Administration has offered no details except to say non-Medicare retirees will have to seek private insurance through an exchange that hasn’t yet been launched. This uncertainty will cause anxiety and fear for tens of thousands of seniors who gave their working lives to public service—men and women whose retirement savings are already under attack in the name of ‘pension reform.’
“Our union will be working to get answers to our many questions, to ensure the City Council closely oversees the administration’s proposals, and to protect access to affordable health care for city retirees now and in the future.”
* Other stuff…
* Quinn on new FedEx facility: Best way to help people is with a j-o-b
* Illinois adds tech jobs ahead of national rate
* Mexican official pitches business in Chicago
* Illinois passes law to make Busch divest beer distributorship
* Craft beer’s conundrum
* Illinois House Passes ‘Homeless Bill of Rights’
* Voluntary school merger bill goes to Quinn: The measure comes out of Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon’s Classrooms First Commission, which studied ways for schools to save money by reducing duplicative practices and combining educational offerings.
* Allegedly drunk limo driver prompts House bill to boost DUI penalties: The proposal, sponsored by House Republican leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst) comes in response to limo driver Richard Madison taking 23 Oswego East High School students to their prom in Glen Ellyn last weekend while allegedly driving with a blood alcohol level that was three times the legal limit.
* Senate OKs bill for arrested 17-year-olds to be sent to juvenile court