Chicago infra trust passed in council vote

The Chicago Infrastructure Trust won approval in city council following a 41-to-7 vote. The trust was launched under current Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and has enlisted backing from Citi, JP Morgan and Macquarie.

The highly touted Chicago Infrastructure Trust (CIT) – developed to attract private investment into Windy City infrastructure – has been green lighted by the city council by a vote of 41-to-7.

The trust, created in March, is a city run infrastructure bank/fund championed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and backed by former President Bill Clinton. Billion-dollar CIT is partnered with Citibank, Citi Infrastructure Investors (CII), Sydney, Australia-headquartered Macquarie Group and JP Morgan Asset Management.

Emanuel, a trusted Clinton operative and former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, became mayor of Chicago in 2011.

The approval of the trust came as part of the passing of a larger $7 billion spending plan. Emanuel has said he planned to use part of the $7 billion to improve the Chicago subway system as well as its water and wastewater management. 

He has also voiced his intent to entice private sector capital to improve Chicago’s infrastructure. His finance director, Lois Scott, co-headed Scott Balice, a consultant that has advised Chicago, Los Angeles, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh and New Jersey Transit to privatise parking.

The first prospective project CIT has earmarked is ‘Retrofit Chicago,’ a programme designed to better energy efficiency citywide.

Chicago is a pioneering US city in regard to infrastructure investment. In 2004, the city debuted the first-ever toll road concession in the US, leasing its Chicago Skyway to a consortium teaming Cintra with Macquarie.

By 2008, the city had embarked on the first-ever on-street parking privatisation, leasing its downtown parking meter system to Morgan Stanley Infrastructure. A year later, Chicago tried to lease its Midway International Airport to CII, but that would-be deal fell through when Citi failed to come up with enough capital.

The concept of establishing an infrastructure bank has become a part of the political dialogue in Washington, D.C., as well as on a state government level. President Obama in a 2011 speech before a joint session of Congress outlined his idea for a National Infrastructure Bank.