Will Chicago’s Incoming Mayor Really Disrupt the City’s Real Estate Market?

Chicago’s latest mayoral election pitted two Democrats at opposite ends of their party’s political spectrum against each other to replace incumbent Lori Lightfoot, and the ensuing fight left the real estate industry on the edge of its seat. Most of the noise around the race emanated from the stark ideological divides between former Chicago Public Schools CEO (and centrist) Paul Vallas and the unapologetically left-wing Cook County commissioner Brian Johnson. However, speculation that a Johnson administration would drive away precious property investment activity grew louder as election day loomed. It became clear that Vallas was the industry favorite as the bulk of his support (and campaign dollars) came from the real estate community, but it was Johnson who pulled out ahead. 

Johnson’s win is largely seen as a victory for Chicago’s teacher’s union and reproductive healthcare advocates, but developers and investors appear to be on edge about Johnson’s policy proposals once he steps into office. If Johnson manages to salvage Chicago’s crumbling public transit infrastructure, real estate players may have reason to rejoice instead of looking for greener pastures elsewhere.

Penny-pinching and number crunching

Johnson is bringing in a laundry list of objectives when he officially steps into office on May 15. The first of which includes a full-scale efficiency review of Chicago’s government (which Johnson believes will yield half a billion in savings), developing a long-term budget projection with detailed timelines in the name of budget transparency, and, the kicker, implementing strategic tax increases that affect corporations and wealthy individuals—not Chicago’s average

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