The [Tuesday] Papers
"The city of Chicago expects to net about $16 million from the sale of the Malcolm X College site to the Blackhawks and Rush University after paying roughly $8 million to tear down the building, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration said Monday," the Tribune reports.
Well, if that's what they say . . .
"The details of the deal came four days after the mayor said the Near West Side parcel would be developed into a Blackhawks practice center and a Rush University expansion. At the time, Emanuel would not provide specifics of the deal's finances, saying only that the buyers would be 'paying market rate.'
"The hockey franchise and Rush will pay $50 per square foot for the 11-acre parcel - slightly below the $55 rate that the city's appraiser determined the land is worth, Emanuel spokeswoman Elizabeth Langsdorf said."
So not market rate, but $2,395,800 below market rate.
"[Langsdorf] declined to provide a copy of the appraisal, saying the Tribune would need to file an open records request to obtain that information."
Oh, for fuck's sake!
"The lower rate is the result of a 'community benefits' package offered by the team and university, Langsdorf said. The Emanuel administration, however, has declined to say what those benefits entail and how the value of them was determined, other than to say they will be worth more than $2.4 million. Langsdorf said the Blackhawks and Rush are handling such calculations, and did not respond when asked whether the city will do its own analysis."
Oh, for fuck's sake!
Pro tip to the Blackhawks/Rush: Ask for free Wi-Fi.
"On 4 acres of the parcel, Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz said the team would build what he called the Chicago Blackhawks Community Center. The building would cost the team $50 million."
That may be the cost, but the city is providing the Blackhawks with an opportunity to make a tidy profit. Earlier from Crain's:
"For the Blackhawks, the new facility stands to be a moneymaker through rentals to youth and other hockey leagues. The team also stands to get a financial windfall from selling naming rights to the new building. Their fellow United Center tenant, the Chicago Bulls, opened a new practice facility east of the arena last year after selling naming rights to the building to Advocate Health Care for an estimated $1 million per year."
This is not a charitable endeavor.
"Cash-strapped Chicago will net $16.3 million from the deal that will bring a Blackhawks practice facility and new academic buildings for Rush University Medical Center to the site of the soon-to-be-demolished Malcolm X College," Fran "Steno" Spielman "reports" for the Sun-Times.
Okay, let us pause here to note that both papers used the $16 million net figure in their headlines, which is misleading, as we shall see, and both led with the official claim by the city, which is standard newspaper convention, even though, as we saw in the Tribune article, the claim doesn't contextually stand up to scrutiny.
Of course the city will net a relatively large figure for the sale of the land - it's selling an 11-acre parcel! It will naturally "net" millions. The question is whether the city is netting all the millions it should or whether it's made a sweetheart deal.
In addition, both papers seem to forget that the city is destroying the old Malcolm X College - and it's a perfectly reusable building that another buyer might have preserved, saving the taxpayers $8 million in demolition costs, because we're gifting that to the Blackhawks - and spending $251 million to build a new one. I'm not saying that's wrong; I'm saying that all the figures need to be taken into account when figuring out the "nets" and "grosses" instead of just amplifying the mayor's spin.
Note, for example, how Spielman begins her story with "Cash-strapped Chicago" to make it seem like Rahm Emanuel is bringing a desperate city much-needed relief. An alternate lead might look like this:
"City officials dribbled out a few more details of the new Blackhawks practice facility project on Monday, but also remained secretive about how the latest financial figures were determined."
Instead, we get what we got, followed by this:
"After playing it cagey for days, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration finally came clean with the fine print of an agreement that, City Hall insists, is a good deal for Chicago taxpayers and a boon for the Near West Side."
First, it doesn't appear the administration "came clean" at all, or else it wouldn't have advised the Tribune to file a FOIA for a document clearly in its possession (unless non-existent).
Second, if this is such a good deal for Chicago taxpayers, why has the mayor played it "cagey" for days?
"Together, the team and the hospital will pay $26.7 million for the 11-acre site at 1900 W. Van Buren, including 4 acres for the Hawks and 7 acres for Rush.
"But only $24.3 million of that money will be paid in cash. The rest will be a credit for 'community benefits' provided by both parties."
And how was that credit determined? Quod tibi necesse erit FOIA - you'll have to FOIA that!
Of course, if the Blackhawks and Rush determined that for themselves (!), you can't really FOIA them.
"City Hall also put an $8 million price tag on the city's cost to demolish the old Malcolm X and prepare the site for construction. That leaves Chicago taxpayers with a bottom line of $16.3 million from the deal.
"Mayoral spokeswoman Elizabeth Langsdorf said the $26.7 million price tag matches the value placed on the 486,526 square feet of land by the city's third-party appraiser.
"But the appraiser's price of $55 per square foot was for a 'clean site' after demolition. The Hawks and Rush will end up paying $50 per square foot after the city's demolition and site preparation costs are deducted.
"It was not known how the city arrived at the $2.5 million value placed on 'community benefits.'"
That says to me the city left $10.5 million on the table - or about .02 percent of Rocky Wirtz's net worth.
"The Hawks' contribution to that figure stems from the practice facility having two ice rinks instead of one.
"That'll be enough to accommodate the explosion of youth hockey in Chicago triggered by the Hawks' three Stanley Cup championships in the last six seasons and still allow Blackhawks Charities to oversee year-round programs and clinics for underprivileged youths."
Oh, please. The Blackhawks are going to profit from that extra rink, as shown.
"Chicago needs every dollar it can get to solve the $30 billion pension crisis that has dropped the city's bond rating to junk status.
"That's apparently why Emanuel was so skittish about revealing the fine print of the Malcolm X deal."
Huh? If this was a good deal for taxpayers, why would he be skittish about revealing the fine print? Because Chicago needs every dollar it can get and didn't get it?
"Chicagoans will now have to make their own judgment on whether the mayor is following through on the promise he made last week.
"There is no public support, financial support for this endeavor. They'll be paying market rate for the facility. Our job as a city will to obviously make the land available, which means taking down the old Malcolm X," Emanuel said then.
Nooooooo! It's not up to Chicagoans to "make their own judgement* on whether the mayor is following through on the promise" - it's your job to determine that and tell us! But clearly, even Spielman has her doubts.
* I insist on spelling "judgement" this way and I'll explain why some other time.
"It appears City Hall is getting a good deal for the site of the old Malcolm X College, which it's selling to the Chicago Blackhawks, for a training facility and youth hockey center, and Rush University Medical Center, for an expansion of its West Side campus," Greg Hinz, a Rahm voter and supporter, writes for Crain's.
Appearances can be deceiving! That's why we're in the business we're in.
"For some reason officials were a little shy about releasing numbers in the original announcement, saying only that the land was being sold for its appraised value and that the city would pay the cost of demolition and land clearance for the 11-acre project."
For some reason!
"Spokesmen for the team and medical center confirm the figures and suggest that, if anything, the price is a high one."
Even though it's less than the appraised value.
More important, so does an outside party with no interest in the matter: Eric Feinberg, senior vice president and Chicago co-head of Savills Studley, a real estate firm that has been involved in multiple transactions in the West Side Medical District area in recent years.
More important, look at what Eric Feinberg thinks! The one guy who got a call for some reason who has no interest in the matter - besides his numerous business and civic involvements with the city!
Feinberg also contributed $500 to Chicago for Rahm in 2011, which isn't a lot of money but hints at a general political predisposition.
"According to Langsdorf, the total price - cash and the in-kind services - matches the value placed on the land by the city's appraiser, Kelly Appraisal Consultants. Kelly is one of the precertified firms the city uses for such work and was the low-bidder on this project, she said."
I thought it was less than the appraised value - which we have to FOIA to see. Or we could just go by Langsdorf.
Also, just FYI: Kelly Appraisals campaign contribution history.
"Demolition and land preparation will eat up about $8 million of the city's sale price, Langsdorf said. Such costs sometimes are paid by the buyer, sometimes by the seller."
Of course. And in this case, there's no reason why that cost should accrue to the city. Another buyer might have wanted to use the building - it didn't have to be demolished to make the land sellable.
"A Blackhawks spokesman said the team's community benefit will come first from providing a second ice rink in the facility, not just one for the Hawks and visiting professional teams. The second sheet will cost about $20 million. Beyond that, the team routinely, through Chicago Blackhawks Charities, will make the facility and equipment available at no charge to area youth groups that cannot afford to pay costs."
That's nice, but let's not be mistaken: the Blackhawks are not planning to operate that second rink at a loss.
"Rush spokesman John Pontarelli said its community benefits will be detailed later."
Once the PR people figure out what they are.
Here's the best headline on the story, by the way: "Chicago To Internet $16 Million For Malcolm X Website."
Do you even Internet?
"Metropolis expects to internet about $16 million from the sale of the Malcolm X School website to the Blackhawks and Rush College."
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Posted on August 4, 2015
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