A property that has stood vacant for years next to the Warrenville Public Library is expected to become the focus of redevelopment efforts now that the city has a new tax increment financing district.
City council members on Monday night approved the creation of the TIF district to help rejuvenate the Civic Center near Butterfield and Batavia roads and the Old Town section near the confluence of Warrenville, Batavia and River roads.
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In a TIF district, the assessed value of land is frozen for the purpose of calculating how much property tax dollars local governments receive. As property values increase, the difference between what the governments collect and the higher taxes the land generates is put into a fund that helps pay for certain improvements within the TIF district, such as roads and other infrastructure.
"This is a tool to help us do economic development," Mayor David Brummel said of the TIF district. "There are a number of sites that we know are going to redevelop. We want to be in a position to help that as best we can and make sure that it happens in a positive way."
Community Development Director Ronald Mentzer said the first project he expects to benefit from the TIF district is a planned redevelopment of the former Musselman Lumber site along Manning Avenue next to the library.
"It's a good site," he said. "It's a city-owned site. It makes sense to get something happening on that sooner than later."
After spending $2.2 million to acquire the land in 2006, the city demolished a warehouse that once stood there. Now it's working with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the 4.25-acre site. That work is scheduled to be completed this summer.
Officials then are hoping to find a developer to buy the land and construct townhouses or some other type of residential development. Mentzer said the city already has been contacted by three developers who have expressed interest.
"There seems to be some market support for redevelopment of that property," Mentzer said. "The fact that it's in a TIF district gives us some more flexibility on how that might play out."
Officials said the city is planning to get back the money it spent purchasing the site and preparing it for redevelopment. It's anticipated that most of those dollars will come from the TIF district, which will be in place for up to 23 years.
If done properly, Mentzer said, transforming the former lumber site can become a catalyst for other redevelopment projects within the Old Town and Civic Center areas. Officials, for example, have said they would like to see a mix of condominiums, small shops and restaurants along Butterfield Road.
"The TIF (district) is going to help us attract good development," Brummel said, "and hopefully put Warrenville on the track for a better future."