* Back in 2000, the Cook County Board approved a new law designed to help “mom and pop” business owners who had an apartment or two above their storefronts. The break was for smaller buildings (under 20,000 square feet). Under the new law, the buildings were taxed based on 10 percent of their assessed value (the residential rate) rather than 25 percent (the business rate). That’s turned out to be just swell for some Wrigleyville businesses, including rooftop bars owned by the Ricketts family…
The Sun-Times examined the property taxes of 65 buildings with bars, restaurants and other businesses around Wrigley Field. The newspaper found that the assessor has classified 32 of them as residential because they include at least one apartment — which doesn’t even need to be occupied to earn the tax break.
Collectively, those 32 properties paid $1.6 million in taxes this year. That’s about $2 million less than they would have paid if they were taxed as commercial property, the Sun-Times found.
A caveat: Had the law never been passed, it’s unlikely the properties’ owners would have paid that full $2 million, as they’d undoubtedly argue that some parts of their buildings should be taxed as commercial and others as residential. Still, those so-called split assessments would generate more tax revenue from those buildings than are currently paid, experts say.
The properties include 13 apartment buildings along Sheffield and Waveland avenues where fans flock to rooftops to watch the Cubs play. Over the past few years, the Ricketts family has bought 10 of those buildings, paying $872,933 on them in property taxes this year — about $1.3 million less than they would have paid if they were classified as commercial real estate.
Go read the whole thing. Sheesh.