Grossinger Auto Gets $8.5 Million

From Crain’s Chicago Business:

Panel OKs TIF money for auto mall near North-Clybourn

By Eddie Baeb – Jan. 09, 2008 – Crain’s Chicago Business

(Crain’s) — A proposed Grossinger auto mall near the North-Clybourn intersection was approved Tuesday for $8.5 million in tax-increment financing by the city’s Community Development Commission.

The project would redevelop the former Home Depot Expo Design Center at 1500 N. Dayton St. into a four-level auto mall run by Grossinger Auto Group with three to five car brands, including Toyota, Scion and Cadillac.

The development is expected to cost about $39 million, which includes gutting the interior of the 300,000-square-foot building and punching holes in the exterior for new windows. Grossinger is moving its dealership at 1233 N. Wells St. to the new location, and is to ulimately increase employment to 125 people from 67 currently, according to documents filed with the city.

Gary Grossinger didn’t return calls seeking comment.

The TIF money would come from the new “Weed/Fremont Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Project Area,” which is being created specifically for this project and includes only this building.

The city Planning Department supports the TIF agreement. A spokesman for the Planning Department says the city has created such one-building TIF districts in other instances when the property is antiquated and difficult to redevelop. “The building has been a white elephant the last three years,” he says. “It’s a hulking, concrete structure.”

The former Expo, owned by Crate & Barrel founder Gordon Segal, was built in the 1960s as a jukebox factory. The building later became a Homemakers furniture store before Expo opened there in 2002. The building has stood vacant since Expo closed in 2005.

Mr. Segal says he has signed off on the sublease between Grossinger and Home Depot, which still has another 13 years left on its lease. Mr. Segal says the new auto mall could open as soon as late this year.

The planning department spokesman says the new dealership, which could add two additional brands that aren’t yet determined, is projected to generate $1.6 million in annual sales tax revenue for the city.

Grossinger filed a zoning application last fall for the Dayton Street site, after dropping plans to expand its dealership at 1233 N. Wells into an auto mall amid complaints about potential traffic congestion from residents in the Old Town neighborhood.

The TIF agreement needs City Council approval.
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So how did this extremely successful and prosperous business get a promise of almost $9 million of our taxes?

From Ben Joravsky’s January 17 Chicago Reader column

“The CDC also recommended giving $8.5 million to Grossinger Auto Group to help build a car dealership in the vacant Expo Design Center near the congested intersection of North, Halsted, and Clybourn. Lobbyist Terry Teele, a former deputy chief of staff for Mayor Daley, was so persuasive on Grossinger’s behalf that the CDC recommended making the site itself a TIF district, the Weed/Fremont TIF, with funds to be devoted exclusively to the project. No one from the city’s environmental department felt compelled to explain why the city would want to subsidize a multimillion-dollar auto dealership when it can’t find funds to alleviate the CTA meltdown. And no one from the planning department bothered to explain why one of the north side’s hottest real estate markets, where privately financed development fills almost every lot, merits a subsidy intended to eradicate blight.”

The comments after the article go on to reveal another in a series of seemingly endless conflicts-of-interest…

“Grossinger TIF is in Vi Daley’s 43rd ward … ”

Teele, Terry
1306 West Ardmore,Chicago, IL 60660
Occupation: Consultant,Employer: Self

$1,500.00 2/21/2007 – to: Friends of Vi Daley – http://www.elections.state.il.us/CampaignDisclosure

Further, that this same Teele was a lobbyist for Terry Rezco.

From 2003-2006 Teele registered as a lobbyist working for Tony Rezko’s lobbying firm.

http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/general/search_results.html?keyword=Lobbyists

Teele bio on Rezmar’s website –

His bio: “TERRY TEELE, VICE PRESIDENT

Terry Teele serves as special advisor to Rezmar Corporation with an emphasis on governmental policies and practices. He has the knowledge and expertise to offer advice and facilitate communications with or between governmental agencies as well as advise, expedite and resolve infra-structure issues. Drawing on his background and talents, Terry will continue to play a significant role in the development of Rezmar’s exciting 62-acre Riverside Park development. With more than 15 years experience in city and state government, Teele recently served as First Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley, focusing on urban planning development and neighborhood revitalization. Teele holds a degree in public administration from Eastern Illinois University.”

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