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April Fool! Ald. Joe Moore goes out with humor, spoofing Lincoln Yards

A non-existent project at Howard and Ashland, dubbed "Howard Yards," was announced by Ald. Joe Moore on April Fools Day. | Provided rendering

Say what you want about outgoing Ald. Joe Moore (49th). Never say he lacks a sense of humor.

Moore is the 28-year incumbent alderman sent packing on Feb. 26 by progressive political newcomer Maria Hadden. It wasn’t even close. Hadden got 63.4 percent (7,820 votes) to Moore’s 36.6 percent (4,514 votes).

On Monday, Moore poked fun at the recent furor over the $6 billion Lincoln Yards project in a final April Fool’s Day email to his constituents.

Moore jokingly invited 49th Ward residents to attend a community meeting Monday night for “Howard Yards,” a project at Howard and Ashland that’s the brainchild of “Russian developer Boris Badenov.”

Moore’s email said the mega-project supposedly includes: a 20-story, 330-rental-unit high-rise that would be Rogers Park’s first “super-tall skyscraper”; a Live-Nation entertainment complex (like one proposed and scrapped at Lincoln Yards); a rooftop garden to be rented out for “corporate events, weddings, bar mitzvahs and funerals” but free to all political fundraisers; and a rooftop “cannabis farm” in anticipation of the state soon legalizing the “production and sale” of recreational marijuana.

“Instead of a 20,000-seat soccer stadium, Badenov and Live Nation are proposing for the first floor of the development a 2,000-seat indoor roller derby rink. The rink will serve as the new home of the Chicago Outfit, Chicago’s all-female flat track roller derby rink,” Moore wrote.

The second floor will include “an indoor, 400-seat music venue” that will serve as “the new home for a re-born” Biddy Mulligan’s, where the Rolling Stones once played while on tour in Chicago,” Moore wrote. “Rumor has it Live Nation is negotiating with the Stones to perform at Biddy Mulligan’s grand re-opening,” the alderman said.

The “transit-oriented development” will have no on-site parking. Instead, Badenov plans to enter into a joint- venture with visionary billionaire Elon Musk to build a “scaled-down version” of his hyperloop.

“The high-speed transit system will whisk passengers from the development to the Howard Red Line station in less than three seconds through a tunnel bored under the Howard Theater building,” Moore wrote in a spoof on the now-defunct O’Hare Express project.

As for affordable housing, Badenov has agreed to set aside 10 percent of the units on site and build the other ten percent “on Astor Street” in the Gold Coast, Moore said.

Unlike Lincoln Yards, no tax-increment-financing subsidy would be required at Howard Yards, according to Moore. Instead, Howard Yards will be bankrolled by “a tried and true financing method: a 50/50 raffle.” Tickets will be sold to investors at $100-apiece. The winner gets 50 percent of the take. The other half goes to Badenov, Moore said.

Following Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s lead on Lincoln Yards, Moore said he has placed the project on a “fast track to lock it in before the end of my term as alderman.” Badenov will be represented by the law firm of “Dewey Chetham and Howe,” Moore said.

“It will be heard by the Plan Commission tomorrow morning, the City Council Committee on Zoning tomorrow afternoon and voted on by the [full] City Council Wednesday,” he wrote.

It’s not the first time Moore has spoofed his constituents on April Fool’s Day.

Last year, he sent a similar email noting that Jarvis Beach — a rock-strewn postage stamp of a lakefront refuge — had been named one of the top ten beaches in the nation by Trip Advisor.

WBBM-TV (Channel 2) reported the story as if it were true.

By poking fun at the Lincoln Yards and O’Hare Express controversies, Moore said he’s trying to send a message about the state of Chicago politics.

“It’s important that we not take ourselves so seriously. Humor has become a lost art in politics. One of the funniest presidents of all time was also one of our greatest leaders and that’s Abraham Lincoln. We’ve kind of lost that these days,” Moore said.

“I felt like, what the heck? Go out with humor. Play with some of the issues going on.”

The retiring alderman didn’t miss a beat when asked what he plans to do next after leaving office on May 20.

“Comedy,” he said.