Just released by Save Grant Park:
Fight over Children’s Museum Far from Over
City Council vote only Round One in a 15 Round Fight
CHICAGO – While expressing disappointment over the City Council’s decision to provide over $539 million in taxpayer subsidies for a children’s museum in Grant Park, opponent’s of the move say the fight is far from over. In addition to the current lawsuit against the city and several more that are planned, Save Grant Park says they will continue grassroots efforts to block construction of the Children’s Museum at Allstate Place.
“We’re obviously disappointed that City Council members have chosen to abandon their oath to uphold the law and allow for the illegal construction of a children’s museum in Grant Park, sweetened with over a half-billion in taxpayer subsidies,” said Peggy Figiel, co-founder of Save Grant Park. “That’s before you even consider the potential millions that taxpayers will now have to pay to defend the museum from the numerous pending lawsuits, thanks to Mayor Daley and this City Council. But for us, this fight is far from over.”
Save Grant Park says that in addition to supporting pending lawsuits, they are encouraging the public to visit their website at http://www.SaveGrantPark.org to join upcoming efforts to block the museum’s move in the coming months. Save Grant Park says they won’t reveal their strategy publicly, only that they will continue to criticize the Mayor and City Council members who supported providing the museum with an estimated $539 million in taxpayer subsidies just months after Mayor Daley and the City Council approved a $277 million increase in property taxes and fees.
Taxpayer subsidies for Children’s Museum at Allstate Place include:
$51 Million – Value of the 1.75 acres of parkland the museum will control (1)
$99 Million – Taxpayer subsidies from the Museums in the Park Fund (2)
$36 Million – Replacement cost of 400 demolished parking garage spaces (3)
$353 Million – Value of free rent in Grant Park (4)
Park District agreement allows museum to transfer ownership of building
Opponents are also criticizing a provision of the museum’s secret agreement with the park district that allows them to transfer their 99-year lease to another private corporation without any oversight from the City Council. That agreement between the museum and Park District Superintendent Tim Mitchell allows the museum to transfer the building with only the Chicago Park District’s approval:
“CCM may not, without the prior written consent of CPD, which may be withheld or conditioned in the sole discretion of CPD, assign all or any rights under the Use Agreement, provided that CPD’s approval shall not be unreasonably withheld, conditioned or delayed if the proposed assignee intends to continue to operate the project as a children’s museum.”
Navy Pier is the museum’s third home in as many decades, and the museum still hasn’t paid off loans for construction at Navy Pier issued in 1994. Opponents also argue that the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, with one million visitors per year, is four times larger than the proposed Chicago museum, yet CCM officials hope to reach one million visitors in the near future. That makes it likely that CCM will have to abandon its Grant Park location long before their 99-year lease runs out.
“The Chicago Children’s Museum is already in its third home in as many decades, and it’s clear they’re already making plans to move out of this building before it’s even built,” said Figiel. “The inclusion of a liquor license in their zoning application means that this could be a 100,000 square foot restaurant and mini-mall just in time for the 2016 Olympics.”
*Calculated across museum’s 99 year lease.
1 – $668 per sq. ft., cost of similar land nearby for the Chicago Spire
2 – Based on Crain’s Chicago Business article, 7/24/07
3 – Based on construction and financing costs of Millennium Park garage, $96,000 per parking space
4 – Based on value of museum’s rent subsidy at Navy Pier, $35.66 per sq. ft. per year