Wheeling hopes renewed TIF revives industrial area near airport
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Wheeling will try to bring more business to Industrial Lane on the village's southeast side by restarting the tax increment financing district first put in place in 2008.
The Southeast TIF, as it is called, has lost $10 million in equalized assessed value in the last five years, and the TIF itself is in danger of going into deficit by 2014, officials said.
To jump-start development, the Wheeling Village Board will re-establish the Southeast TIF district for up to another 23 years starting in January, and begin stricter code enforcement on businesses already there.
Village officials believe the area can attract more business than it has because of its proximity to Chicago Executive Airport and Milwaukee Avenue.
"We are looking for the proper solutions to build on the asset that is the airport and the entrance to our community, and what is the right thing for us economically," said Village Manager Jon Sfondilis.
When the TIF was first set up in 2008, it was the peak of the real estate bubble and — unknown to officials at the time — the worst time to establish a TIF.
"The main difference between the plans for this new TIF and the TIF set in 2008 is financial," said Sfondilis, pointing out the lower EAV will help the new TIF get going.
The new TIF will include two parcels of land that the airport owns. The current TIF is bounded by Milwaukee Avenue on the east and Dean Avenue on the west. It goes north of Hintz Road and south to the end of the Wheeling property line.
The new TIF will have a $6.5 million investment by the village to redevelop Industrial Lane. The $6.5 million would come from other TIF funds, or from a bond sale, officials said.
Two other proposals presented by consultant Teska Associates calling for at least $20 million from the village were rejected by trustees.
Teska Senior Associate Todd Vanadilok said the village's $6.5 million will pay for infrastructure improvements including a stoplight at Sumac Road and Milwaukee Avenue, road and utility improvements and stormwater detention.
Vanadilok said the plan for Industrial Lane should include a restaurant, gas station with a convenience mart, retail strip center, coffee shop, office buildings, a flight school and other possibilities for some land to be used by the airport.
The private sector costs for redeveloping the area would be $40.1 million, Vanadilok estimates.
Tax increment financing districts are considered good development tools by municipalities because as property taxes generated by the land increase due to redevelopment, the extra money is siphoned off to be put back into the development. Other government bodies — schools, libraries, park districts, and others — that normally get that additional tax revenue are put on hold for the length of the TIF, in this case 23 years.
"The other taxing districts aren't being impacted right now because no increment is being generated," said Michael Mondschain, Wheeling's director of finance and administrative services. The only property generating revenue in the Southeast TIF is a town house development, currently declared a surplus by the village and given to the taxing bodies because it is a residence.
In addition to resetting the TIF, the village also agreed to heighten code enforcement for the businesses that were once in unincorporated Cook County, Village President Dean Argiris said. The businesses were annexed into Wheeling in 2002 and are now located in the Southeast TIF, but up until now the village has not enforced code on them.
Among the codes that have gone unenforced is a parking ban, said Village Planner Andrew Jennings. Some businesses have been parking on the street during the day and even overnight. The village will draft a letter to tell businesses of the restriction, and will be in communication with them throughout the redevelopment process.
Current business owners on Industrial Lane and in the Southeast TIF may wish to move, Sfondilis said, and the village will help them find other locations in Wheeling and provide moving expenses.
"The village wants to be more proactive with how they deal with property owners," Vanadilok said.
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