ULI Chicago Redeems My TIF Experience

Small miracles pop up in the most unlikely places at the most unexpected times.

Take two weeks ago, when I sat through a discussion on Tax Increment Financing.

Years ago, I thought maybe, just maybe I had left TIF-related matters in my rear-view mirror. I figured I’d paid my penance, having covered TIF issues for years as a reporter, from controversy over the formation of TIF districts to egghead discussions about their nuanced features and benefits. You can see one sample here, from my time covering Cicero for the Chicago Tribune.

But no—to paraphrase Michael Corleone, the Al Pacino character in Godfather III, just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!

Somewhat surprisingly, not only did I endure the experience, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Held on November 3 at Drinker Biddle & Reath, the event was called “Perspectives on TIF and TIF Reform in Chicago and Beyond: ULI Chicago Policy & Practice Forum.”

I should hasten to note that this pleasant turn of events is no indication of self-actualization; more accurately, it’s that the people discussing the issue did so with an historical insight and forward-looking intelligence not typically in ample supply at City Council or Village Board meetings.

The moderator was Alicia Berg, Vice President, Campus Environment, Columbia College Chicago. She was joined by panelists Paul W. Shadle, partner at DLA Piper LLP; Helen Shiller, Former Alderman, 46th Ward, City of Chicago; and Dr. Rachel N. Weber, Associate Professor, UIC College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs.

You must be a member of the Urban Land Institute to read my report, though other summaries I have written for ULI are available at its website.

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