Chicago Chinatown Residents Conflicted on Beautification Taxation Plan
There are members on both sides of the fence when it comes to the Chinatown Special Service Area Tax and beautification plan. According to the Gazette Chicago, the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce led a push last year to create a Special Service Area (SSA) to help attract tourists and other Chicagoans to the neighborhood. The United Chinatown Organization say the SSA is just another way to tax residents and business owners in the community.
A Special Service Area is a designation intended to help commercial districts fund beautification projects, marketing, and other improvements through an additional property tax. Chinatown’s main business and entertainment corridor is the city’s only major cultural destination to not have a special service area.
According to DNAinfo, residents are concerned that the tax will just create more problems. Others believe the SSA will help make Chinatown a better place. City Council approval and the support of 25th Ward Ald. Danny Solis are needed for the SSA. Solis is on board.
The SSA would cover Chinatown Square at 2133 S. China Place down to Wentworth Avenue and Cermak Road. It seeks $160,000 per year, which comes out to about $860 per year for each property owner within the area’s boundaries.
Ernie Wong, a board member with the Chinese American Service League, wrote an open letter to business owners in the community stating, “It’s not unreasonable for the city to ask for a sustainable system in which to maintain their investments.”
The funds would be used for landscaping, power-washing, garbage cans and collection, and other beautification plans. Proponents of the SSA say that it would strengthen the positive economic impact of community improvements such as the 30,000-square-foot park field house and $20 million library, which have both been built within the past five years.