Senior White House adviser and long-time Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett’s role in a number of controversial Chicago housing developments has garnered her investments worth millions of dollars while highlighting the administration’s extensive business ties to presidential donors.
Before joining the Obama administration in 2009, Jarrett was president and chief executive officer of the Habitat Company, a real estate development firm founded by major Democratic donor Daniel Levin. Before that, she served three years as commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development under Mayor Richard Daley.
Jarrett currently owns an 11-percent equity interest in Kingsbury Plaza, a 46-story luxury apartment complex developed by Habitat between 2005 and 2007 at a cost of more than $100 million.
She valued the investment at between $1 million and $5 million on her 2011 financial disclosure form, up from $250,001 in 2010. A Jarrett spokesmantold the Washington Times that the investment was “a direct result of her 13 years working for Habitat.”
Cook County records show the Kingsbury property is worth around $27.2 million, but thanks to a series of legal appeals beginning in 2003, the land and building are assessed at a much lower value for tax purposes. Since 2008, the property has been designated a “special commercial structure” and is taxed at a value of just $6.8 million, or 25 percent of the actual value.
Asked how such a property could enjoy such a low taxable value, an official with the Cook County Assessor’s Office told the Free Beacon that the property’s owners “must have good attorneys.”