• Jordan Larson
  • Teachers and activists protested the use of TIF funds in the construction of a Hyde Park hotel.

Wednesday evening a group of teachers and activists protested the use of tax increment financing funds in the construction of a Hyatt hotel in Hyde Park. Dozens of Chicago Solidarity Teachers Campaign (CSTC) members and other activists carried signs with sayings like “Rahm let our people go” and a check made out “to Penny Pritzker, billionaire.”

Part of the University of Chicago’s Harper Court redevelopment plan to bring more businesses to the area, the hotel received $5.2 million in TIF funds to help offset the $28.6 million construction cost. The Harper Court redevelopment project, which also involves a 12-story office building and other businesses dotting 53rd Street, will sprawl over 1.1 million square feet.

Though TIF funds have gone to other parts of the Harper Court plan, the CSTC has taken aim at Hyatt and a member of its board in particular, Penny Pritzker, for allegedly misusing the funds. Pritzker, as a member of both the city’s (unelected) school board and the Hyatt’s board of directors, presents a serious conflict of interests, the CSTC argues. However, it’s unclear whether the Hyatt Corporation has directly received TIF funding.