ULI Chicago News

Young Leaders Share Lunch and Conversation with Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer

On Thursday, November 13, 2014, twenty young leaders gathered for a “Brown Bag Lunch” to listen to and dialogue with Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer at the offices of Related Midwest.  Bridget Gainer has served as the 10th District Cook County Commissioner since April 2009. She also works in the private sector as a Vice President of Global Public Affairs for Aon Corporation.  During the Lunch, Commissioner Gainer briefly highlighted the many responsibilities of the County but primarily focused on the real estate responsibilities of the County, an issue that is important to all Urban Land Institute members.

In the wake of an increased inventory of vacant residential, industrial and commercial property in Cook County, Commissioner Gainer led the charge to establish the Cook County Land Bank Authority (CCLBA). The Land Bank derives its power from the County and partially operates on funds from the $4.5M Foreclosure Settlement Fund. The Land Bank is intended to address a wide range of issues that prevent real estate markets in certain areas to work properly, by bringing scale to the problem.  Learn more about ULI Chicago’s role in the formation of the Cook County Land Bank Authority

Commissioner Gainer provided many insights into how the Land Bank can help with development and she discussed current initiatives the Land Bank is presently enacting including:

  • Using GIS data and county tax records to better understand how tax liens may advert development
  • Working with Fannie Mae, the largest holder of foreclosed property in Cook County, to adjust property pricing and to obtain funding for demolition of severely dilapidated properties
  • Working with The PrivateBank to organize a $10M financing program to renovate vacant properties by using a Mortgage Loan to take out Purchase/Working Capital Loans that are used to rehabilitate properties and provide permanent financing to the buyers of the property

Commissioner Gainer is interested in the thoughts, ideas and innovation of Chicago’s real estate industry, especially those of Urban Land Institute members because she knows that the Land Bank is only as successful as the interest it engenders in the private sector.  She presented immediate opportunities to work with the Land Bank, including:

  • On December 1, 2014, Fannie Mae will release a significant amount of properties at a lower price point via the National Community Stabilization Trust
  • The PrivateBank is presently seeking qualified developers with experience rehabbing residential homes in Cook County

Overall, Commissioner Gainer’s talk covered many topics but the overarching theme was how the public sector and private sector can work together to create a Chicago that works for the Chicago of “Now.”

Authored by Sayiddah McCree, Koenigsberg Engineering, P.C.
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