601W Companies cooperating in Burke criminal probe: report

Developer’s overhaul of Old Main Post Office is ensnared in investigation of alderman charged with attempted extortion

Jan.January 25, 2019 09:00 AM

Alderman Ed Burke (14th) and the Old Main Post Office (Credit: Brian Crawford and David Wilson via Flickr)

601W Companies is cooperating with investigators in the corruption case against Alderman Ed Burke (14th), which has put its redevelopment of the Old Main Post Office in the spotlight.

Federal agents raided Burke’s office in November and removed a number of items, including files related to the post office project.

Now Harry Skydell, longtime director of acquisition and development for New York-based 601W, is cooperating with authorities, though it’s not known to what extent, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Burke is facing criminal charges alleging he tried to shake down owners of a South Side Burger King to hire his private law firm for property tax appeal work in exchange for his support of their city permit requests.

Last February, the City Council Finance Committee chaired by Burke voted to give 601W a property tax break on the post office redevelopment that could save it $100 million over the life of the project. Burke, who two days later joined the full Council in approving the tax break, has denied doing anything improper regarding the project.

The post office property is in the 25th Ward of Alderman Danny Solis, who at the time of the tax-break vote was working as an FBI mole and secretly recording Burke and others.

In addition to the Old Main Post Office documents, agents in November also removed documents and computer files regarding tax increment financing districts in Burke’s ward and businessman Perry Mandera, who just sold his North Side strip club and who recently opened a medical marijuana dispensary, according to the Sun-Times. [Chicago Sun-Times] — John O’Brien

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