Friday, March 23, 2018 | 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Rachel Weber

Sidney Smith Hall – SS5017A (100 St. George Street)

Real Estate Speculations: How Fast Money Overbuilt Chicago

Looking at the case of Chicago’s downtown during the 2000s, I show how novel financial instruments, such as commercial mortgage backed securities, boosted liquidity in global capital markets and set off a chain reaction of building acquisitions and construction despite anemic economic growth. Because financial markets cannot impose new spatial orders on their own, I highlight the intermediating practices of local real estate brokers, investment advisors, and property appraisers who guided capital surpluses toward specific sites and building types. By stabilizing meanings and fueling aspirational consumption, these professionals helped construct occupant and investor demand for these assets and shuffled tenants from marginally older buildings into the new towers lining the historic core. They were aided by tax benefits and planning changes that removed the detritus left over from prior waves of expansion.


Rachel Weber is a Professor in the Urban Planning and Policy Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she teaches courses and conducts research in the fields of economic development, urban policy, and public finance. She is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning and her latest book, From Boom to Bubble: How Finance Built the New Chicago, was recently published by the University of Chicago Press. In addition to her academic responsibilities, she has served as an advisor to planning agencies, political candidates, and community organizations. She was appointed to then-presidential candidate Barack Obama´s Urban Policy Committee in 2008 and by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the Tax Increment Financing Reform Task Force in 2011 to provide recommendations to his new administration for reforming this financing tool.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s