State lawmakers voiced support Thursday for the proposed One Central project near Soldier Field but made no promises about legislation its developer wants passed during the current session.
Robert Dunn, president of Landmark Development Co., wants a law authorizing a public-private partnership that would let him proceed with a $3.8 billion transit hub to support the project. Dunn has said he’s taking the financial risk and the state can pay part of the cost only after the hub starts generating tax revenue.
Dunn outlined his plan during a hearing of the House Revenue and Finance Committee. He emphasized the fiscal gain for the state if the hub helps him begin building a cluster of high-rises over Metra tracks. “What this creates an opportunity for is the most connected transit hub in the United States,” he told the committee.
He said the 34 acres produces just $23,000 in annual tax revenue now versus $120 billion projected over 40 years if his plans come to fruition. His high-rise plans remain subject to Chicago zoning approval.
Dunn said legislation authorizing the state partnership is needed quickly. A federal program, Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing, could provide up to $1 billion in financing but is set to expire in December.
“It’s a major economic advantage that may be captured if we can pursue the RRIF funding,” Dunn said.
It’s unclear if the project will get its legislation in a session dominated by tax and budget issues, legalization of marijuana and other big topics. The General Assembly is due to adjourn May 31.
MORE ABOUT ONE CENTRAL
House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said the project “is something that’s being talked about with the governor and the leaders.” One Central, he said, has a lot of positives but there are questions to resolve.
“I’ve heard there may be a version of a bill coming from leadership but I haven’t seen it yet,” said state Rep. Kambium Buckner, D-Chicago, whose 26th District would include One Central. He said any action should come only after analysis and community engagement, adding that constituents have expressed concerns to him about traffic and density.
House Speaker Michael Madigan has been briefed about the project but has not taken a position on it, spokesman Steve Brown said. He said a main issue is whether the developer needs state legislation or if some other action would suffice for a federal funding application.
Jordan Abudayyeh, press secretary for Gov. J.B. Pritzker, said, “Administration officials, including Deputy Governor Dan Hynes, have met with the developers to understand their proposal. The administration is reviewing the plan, and we look forward to continuing discussions.”