Secret grab for $6.5B to fund One Central project gets zapped in Springfield

A secret bid to speed $6.5 billion in state funding for the proposed One Central complex across from Soldier Field appears to have been blocked at the last second—but only after the local state representative started screaming his head off.

The clause was part of a proposed amendment to an unrelated Senate bill. It would take the power to approve the $6.5 billion in state funding away from the governor and instead give it to an obscure agency, the Illinois Finance Authority, which has a close relationship with real estate developers.

Introduced without announcement by Senate Majority Leader Kim Lightford, D-Maywood, early this morning, the measure quite possibly would have sailed through unnoticed.

Instead, it was very much noticed by Rep. Kam Buckner D-Chicago, who represents the south lakefront site on which developer Bob Dunn’s huge transit/retail/shopping/residential complex would go.

“A good old fashioned ‘Springfield Surprise’ greeted me this morning,” Buckner promptly tweeted. The language “essentially weakens the parameters and accountability for this $6.5B in state funding.”

Shortly thereafter, Lightford filed a second amendment removing the language. With the Legislature today set to adjourn for the year, that probably killed the measure.

So who did the deed?

A  spokeswoman for Lightford said the clause was part of a larger omnibus bill that she agreed to carry but which was not the senator’s idea. The spokeswoman referred further calls to a spokesman for Senate President Don Harmon, who had no immediate comment.

Dunn has been beating the drums for his project pretty hard lately. His Landmark Development, in a statement, suggested the amendment amounted to nothing.

"The original legislation contemplated that the P3 agreement would be handled by governor’s office or Management and Budget or an agency designated by the state," Landmark said. "The amendment does nothing more than assign the IFA as the agency to administer the development of the P3 agreement and report to the Legislature on the status in 120 days. The P3 agreement will require approval of governor’s Office of Management and Budget so if anything this heightens ‘transparency’ by having a second agency working on the development of the agreement."

A spokeswoman for Gov. J.B. Pritzker said she does not believe the administration knew about the proposal in advance.

Pritzker originally supported the idea of creating potential funding, but more lately has suggested that, given other state needs, Dunn has not made a compelling case.

Maybe Sherlock Holmes can unearth the complete story behind the caper of the vanishing amendment.

via Crain’s Chicago Business

October 28, 2021 at 01:26PM

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