Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Main Street or Main Problem

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I admit, I haven't spent a lot of time analyzing Mayor Dan McLaughlin's Main Street plan. And while I have confidence int he abilities of some of his advisers -- the Village Manager Paul Grimes for one has done a great job over the years and is an asset to the village -- I just can't fall in  love with this latest development plan.

It's called Main Street. Or "Ninety7Fifty on the Park." It's supposed to be the Park Place of Orland Park. It's supposed to attract the really rich, and I assume their money to Orland Park. It's supposed to be financed by the Village. Officials say it doesn't involve tax dollars but that's not really true. Every dollar that government spends is basically a tax dollar that comes out of our pockets. And that is the first red flag. Why is the village and McLaughlin using village funds to build an upscale apartment complex for the rich? Can't they afford to do it themselves?

I understand the argument. The developers want help to get it done. Every developer wants help to get their projects done but we don't help them all. And we certainly haven't helped developers to the extent that the village and Mayor McLaughlin want to help "Ninety7Five on the Park." That's a lot of money we're going to be floating for the developers. They say it will work. Maybe. And maybe not.

And who gets stuck with it? The taxpayers.

But I have a concept problem with the whole deal, besides legitimate concerns about the financing plan Mayor McLaughlin has developed for the developers.

To put it simply, the Village of Orland Park is going to put up $62 million to help build this project, expensive luxury apartments that will be bought by the wealthy -- I assume these are people who don't already live in Orland Park and have pots of gold stashed away in their 6,000 square foot homes that haven't fallen to the mortgage banker robber barons for foreclosure. 295 units of luxury apartments -- why not call them expensive condos? That are supposed to "anchor" the new Orland Park downtown. Downtown. My family fled Chicago specifically to get away from "downtown." Maybe Mayor McLaughlin has been working downtown too much to see the pitfalls of a downtown.

Anyway, seriously. Some rich dude with loads of cash is going to move to Orland Park to live in a luxury condominium which is supposed to be the anchor of a yet unbuilt "downtown?"

I don't think so.

Worse. They are going to drop how many hundreds of thousands in today's crappy real estate market where condos are the last to sell and the first to go in to foreclosure?

I don't think so.

And even worse. The idea that some rich dude is going to buy a luxury condominium apartment next to a train station -- the METRA train station?

I don't think so.

Didn't Tinley Park try to build a bunch of expensive condos near their train station and didn't that fall through specifically because rich people don't want to live near train stations?

We just finished an ugly debate a few years ago about giving seniors free CTA transportation because Gov. Quinn and others said that rich seniors shouldn't get free public transportation. They can pay for it. So some rich guy will millions is going to take the train from Orland Park's "downtown" where he moved to, in order to go to Chicago's "downtown" which everyone is trying to escape from?

I don't think so.

Mayor McLaughlin has a few good advisers. And he has a few goofs, like his buddy on the planning commission who has run-of-the-mouth disease on the Orland Park Patch hate board. Or the District 230 idiot who thinks she can be five things at one time, who also publishes here stupid comments on the Orland Patch hate board. (I love the Patch but I think its chat board is too filled with viciousness and hatred.)

I think there is a tinge of pre-election jitters involved here. McLaughlin knows that he is in for an election fight this next go around. The last few elections have been a breeze. The candidates were good people who couldn't get their acts together. But this next election, I think, the mayor is going to have a serious challenge. And I think he wants this to work so bad to help him get re-elected.

I could be wrong. But, I don't think so.

-- Ray Hanania

1 comment:

  1. I suggest everyone with an interest in this project take a look at the report prepared by the consultants the village of OP hired to evaluate the McLaughlin Triangle before the meeting on the 6th. At a minimum, read the Executive Summary. It can be found on the Village website at the following link http://www.orland-park.il.us/DocumentView.aspx?DID=3593 in the newly formed Citizen Info Center.

    In it, you will see that they concluded the market for these types of apartments is "thin," the financing is unconventional and comes with enormous risk to the village, and that under the CURRENT plan, the project VALUE is LESS than the project COST.

    The OP Trustees can't say they weren't aware what a money pit this project is going to be for the residents of OP...they've been told. You have too.