In the last week of June, a group of students from Big Picture attended "One Week, One Neighborhood," sponsored by DePaul Universitiy's Chaddick Institute. They learned about neighborhood planning by taking a close look at Back of the Yards. If you haven't seen Ben Joravsky's piece this week about what they learned, check it out here.
There's a suggestion in the piece that the city use some Loop TIF money to pay to buy the Goldblatt's building at Ashland and 47th and turn it into a community center. I believe I wrote a year or two ago about an effort to get the Chicago Public Library to buy it and use it as a branch. (That didn't get far, obviously.) I thought I heard a rumor that some big chain was going to move in there, but I haven't seen any evidence of that. Also, on the TIF point--Back of the Yards does have its own TIF. From what I've heard, there's not much money in it (surprise, surprise), but I just wanted to observe that it does exist. Some day I could write a long post on TIFs and how they've been abused, but Ben does that so much better than I do, I'll leave it to him. I would guess that a Back of the Yards TIF could be one of the better examples left in the city of what a TIF was supposed to be: a pot of money pulled from the general tax pool to help revive a struggling neighborhood. I don't know which alderman or aldermen control this TIF, either, which would be good to know.