Bad parking deals continue to saddle Chicagoans with more Daley-debt

Posted: March 28, 2013 in Chicago, Government, Illinois, Local, Parking
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In what is sadly becoming routine for Chicagoans, the Windy City was hit with yet another $60+ million parking bill at the end of February. As some may recall, a few weeks ago I talked about the mounting parking issues in Chicago including a recent dispute with Chicago Parking Meters LLC over an alleged overbilling of $22 million to the city. Well, on February 25 the city was told to pay $57.8 million to Chicago Loop Parking LLC as part of an arbitration agreement due to a breach of the city’s contract with the LLC committed under the Richard M. Daley administration.

As bad as that sounds, the silver lining is that the $57.8 million that was decided upon in arbitration is a far cry less than the $200 million that Chicago Loop Parking LLC originally demanded. The issue goes back to the deal that Mayor Daley signed with Chicago Loop Parking in 2006 giving them a 99 year lease on all parking garages at Millennium Park, Grant Park North, Grant Park South, and East Monroe Street for $563 million. As part of the deal, the city agreed to not allow new public parking garages to be opened in a designated area surrounding the CLP properties. Yet within months of inking the deal, the Daley administration approved the Aqua tower, which included a 1,288 space parking garage, in the off-limits area and subsequently granted a license to operate the parking garage to Standard Parking.

Not surprisingly, Chicago Loop Parking initiated private arbitration (as outlined in their contract with the city) which took place last October. Originally, the LLC had demanded $200 million, breaking it down as a combination of lost revenue, increased operating expenses caused by the Aqua facility and interest. Arbitration brought that amount down to $57.8 million ($50 million for lost revenue plus $7.8 million in interest), but was also supposed to be “final and binding”. Despite that, the city is trying to appeal the decision.

While already reducing the tab by almost 75%, the settlement is still a big hit to the city budget. The city is already in a dispute with Chicago Parking Meters LLC over a $25 million bill, and recently lost a job discrimination lawsuit dating back to 1995 that cost them nearly $80 million. And how much did the city have budgeted for settling lawsuits this year? $27.3 million, barely 15% of the City of Chicago’s legal tab so far this year. Hopefully for Chicagoans, the Daley administration hasn’t left any more fiscal time bombs to further cripple the city’s budget.


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