Open Letter from 6th Ward Alderman Dave Baker regarding University Village proposal


University Village concerns

100% section 8 is foolish.   They would have no market incentive to keep up maintenance.  It will become a slum faster than it did this time.

30% of the apts should be at market rate -not section eight This is exactly what will force them to keep the place cleaned up forever.  This is what our city could live with.  Seven million in soft costs on 20 million investment to cure deferred maintenance is over 3 to 4 million in blue sky lining someone’s pockets.

The skim money of 3-4 million should go to the City of DeKalb for paying for social services. Only $500,000 going to social services is inadequate to cover costs and should be considered a slap in the face  They want to provide a police sub station- they should provide the $100,000-$200,000 per year to staff it with police officers Otherwise it is a
bad deal for the city.

Why reward the current investors for milking their project creating a depreciated – poorly maintained and run down, high density place that those living there have had to endure? And force the city to pay for increased social services!

Let’s send the inspectors in and fine them into submission to clean it up, fix it up and maintain it properly. That is what the city is doing everywhere else- why do these (45 investors group) get a free pass? No special zoning means they just get the finance money from another source.

Any contractor could remodel and upgrade this for a lot less than what they claim and without the phony soft costs. There are numerous professional national apartment management companies that can manage this project much better!

The Crane investment partnership appears to have milked this project for over forty years.  They are probably netting 3.5 to 4 million in cash flow right now.  This is unfair to the current tenants. By letting it run down to a value of $10 million, they should now only be taking about a million out as profit — while reinvesting the balance of income into upkeep and remodeling. The deferred maintenance is their responsibility to cure now. Simply put, they need to put about $8-$10 million back in now to restore the units up to the standard that the current tenants have the right to enjoy.

This was simply a business decision on their part.  Obviously they are hoping the city council might be swayed into a stupid decision allowing them to keep a windfall.

This is an investment and big boys game!

Why reward the current ownership for what I personally would define as being slum lords.  They obviously will 1031 upon sale into a new investment and not pay taxes and get to keep all their unfair profits and equity. They should either sell at current market or fix it up to get the price that they are trying for.

If the city plays into their game which makes them millions extra, we are foolish as it is an obvious bad deal for social services and the city long term.

Let the free market determine the outcome of this place.  This is worse than if the city was rewarding Shodeen for boarding up all the houses at  pearl and Lincoln just to be eligible for TIF.

The developers refused to answer any of my questions at the podium because they know that by doing so, they will have to admit just how much money they are making and what they really could be giving to social services

Bottom line, the current tenants are stuck living in squalor.

It is a sad state for humanity that city officials might reward investors for milking the rents instead of maintaining their properties.  What kind of message would this send to all landlords in the city of DeKalb?

Submitted via text by Alderman David Baker, 6th Ward, DeKalb

Editor’s note: This letter was submitted via text message. A copy was sent to Mayor John Rey and City Manager Anne Marie Gaura. The City Council will likely discuss the University Village proposal at its August 24 meeting. It is expected that the matter will be presented as an action item.


  1. I raised my daughter in UV. I was a single mother. With Christine Orland we Started the University Village Association after Amber manor was closed temporarily and crack moved in. We affectively started a neighborhood watch, a parents group, had the league of women’s voters come in and register voreds( high turn out) and insured our kids had a say in what went in the park the park district built. It’s called community, it’s what you do in a complex that size , it’s what you do w/ a degree in Social work/social services. I now live in TN, but am still friends w several of my former neighbors and kids from the village. And thank you kris polvson and Ben Gordon for the grant you dropped in our laps, it paid for after school activities, etc for our kids.

  2. Ok, so was perusing some local politics and came across this. Normally would read, and move on. Problem is I took the time to read the FB comments and one of them was really disturbing. It relates to the CHANCE program at NIU. CHANCE allows students from disadvantaged neighborhoods to attend college. The students are bright but due to poverty and mostly urban failing schools may not otherwise be eligible for admission. The program has been in operation for decades. One key component is the intensive work instructors in the English Department do with CHANCE students. As a departmental secretary in English I had the good fortune to get to know the teachers, some of the CHANCE staff, and a few of the students. What I saw? Hard working teachers, staff, and students striving for what many students thought was impossible, a chance to learn, grow, and succeed in a world where for many of these kids the deck was stacked against them from day one. More importantly, I saw them do it. I saw the successes. I saw what the CHANCE program accomplishes. Is it 100%? No. But for even one it is worth it. For the number of successes they have? More than worth it. I was privileged to get to work with the folks who work tirelessly to ensure those students get their chance. And I was privileged to see some of the many ways those students take that chance and run with it into a future made brighter and more secure with an education.

  3. Section 8 has nothing to do with it. Your precious little angels buying drugs are the reason the gangs move in from the city. They’re not out here peddling fresh vegetables for nothing. I happen to live by Section 8 townhomes in Dekalb. There is never any riff-raff. The tenants are either working or disabled but they keep their place clean and are overall great neighbors. Stop blaming everything on them and look at the REAL reason crime is up; especially the heroin epidemic.

  4. If you want to help stop the problem, the first thing that MUST be done is the removal of the chance program. You are bringing in students from the inner city that have zero interest in schooling, and they drop out and make dekalb their permanent residence. Get rid of chance to stop the flow of more crime, and remove the people that are there now. NIU is trashing Dekalb

  5. As I understand it the property receives a substantial discount on property taxes and has since inception. Property taxes finance schools. I’ve heard 11% of District 428’d enrollment comes from that complex. Why should local residents and the local schools subsidize a federal program. No property tax discount.

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