The Real Deal Chicago

Sterling Bay, Related Midwest fire Burke’s law firm after alderman’s criminal charges

Klafter & Burke helped Sterling Bay save $328K in property taxes in 2017: report
January 18, 2019 09:00AM

From left: Sterling Bay managing principal Andy Gloor, Alderman Ed Burke, Related Midwest president Curt Bailey and renderings of Lincoln Yards (Credit: Sterling Bay, Wikipedia, Related Midwest, and Lincoln Yards)

Related Midwest and Sterling Bay cut ties with Alderman Ed Burke’s (14th) property tax law firm, Klafter & Burke, after the alderman was charged with attempted extortion.

Both developers were retaining the services of Burke’s firm as recently as last year, when federal agents monitored Burke’s phone calls and then raided his political offices, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Sterling Bay had been a client for 10 years.

Klafter & Burke filed 29 appeals on behalf of Sterling Bay in 2017, and either Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios or the Cook County Board of Review agreed to lower the assessments on seven of those properties, saving the company about $328,000 in property taxes. Burke filed another five appeals for Sterling Bay last year.

Burke’s law office was also “one of many firms” that represented Related Midwest, a company spokesperson told the Sun-Times. Klafter & Burke led an unsuccessful effort to lower the assessed value of the 62-acre The 78 mega-development property.

A criminal complaint released earlier this month alleged Burke used his role as alderman to try to generate property tax business for his firm from the owners of a Southwest Side Burger King by holding up approval of their driveway permit, an example of the wide powers aldermen can flex over even mundane city approvals. [Chicago Sun-Times] — Alex Nitkin