Daley pal gets lucrative development deal — despite unpaid taxes

SHARE Daley pal gets lucrative development deal — despite unpaid taxes

Nine months ago, Jack Higgins — a longtime friend of former Mayor Richard M. Daley — had to walk away from his winning bid to develop nine-acres of government land on the West Side because he didn’t disclose his federal tax liens totaling nearly $2.8 million.

On Tuesday, the Illinois Medical District Commission selected a new development team for the $300 million project — and Higgins is part of the team.

“We had asked Higgins to withdraw his proposal when we learned of his tax problems” last November from a Chicago Sun-Times reporter, commission spokeswoman Heather Tarczan said.

Higgins’ tax problems forced the commission to seek new bids earlier this year, and the commission picked the Higgins team over three competitors, according to Tarczan, because they would develop the hotel, offices, residences and stores simultaneously.

And the commission no longer has concerns over personal income taxes that Higgins and his wife Martha have owed the IRS dating back to 2005.

“He has a payment plan in place with the IRS,” Tarczan said. “Our legal team has seen the payment plan.”

Higgins Development Partners is part of Gateway Real Estate Development Project, which will fund the development for the Illinois Medical District, run by City Hall, Cook County and the State of Illinois.

Ninety percent of the funding will come from Harrison Street Capital, headed by Christopher and Michael Galvin, whose family created Motorola. The remaining 10 percent will come from Higgins and his three development partners:

■ Thomas Samuels Enterprises, a Chicago company that was involuntary dissolved last month by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White for failing to file corporate papers or pay its filing fee. “That’s not true,” Samuels told the Sun-Times before hanging up.

■ East Lake Management & Development Corp., headed by Elzie Higginbottom, a prominent African-American businessman who was one of Daley’s top financial supporters.

■ Isiah Real Estate LLC., owned by Isiah Thomas, the retired basketball star who played for the Detroit Pistons.

Higgins, 68, who lives in a Gold Coast townhouse, built Chicago’s police headquarters for Daley. And he teamed up with the Pritzker family to build the FBI’s offices on the West Side near the nine acres he will develop for the commission.

Higgins’ children grew up with the Daley family, playing on the shores of Grand Beach, Mich., where they all own summer homes.

Higgins’ daughter, Bridget, and her husband, Kevin McCarthy, were with Daley nephew Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko, the night Vanecko punched David Koschman in the face during a drunken argument outside the late night bars of Division Street a decade ago. Koschman later died from brain injuries, but the case remained unsolved for years, until the Sun-Times published a series of reports about Koschman’s death.

Vanecko pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter earlier this year following his indictment by a special grand jury. Bridget Higgins and her husband testified before that grand jury after they were granted immunity from prosecution.

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