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updated: 11/19/2013 11:33 PM

Batavia proposes $1.14 million in aid for new Walgreens

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  • Walgreens would like to build a replacement store to the east in downtown Batavia. The city council has tentatively agreed to $1.143 million in financial aid.

       Walgreens would like to build a replacement store to the east in downtown Batavia. The city council has tentatively agreed to $1.143 million in financial aid.
    Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

 
 

Keeping a Walgreens in downtown Batavia is worth $1.143 million to Batavia officials.

The council agreed to use $850,000 -- a sum equal to the increased property tax expected from a new Walgreens -- to help pay for building the store, which in total will cost more than $5 million.

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It also agreed to rebate up to $293,000 from the expected increase in sales taxes from the replacement store, or supply the money from the site's property taxes if the city can extend the life of the tax-increment financing district in which it sits to 12 years.

It also agreed to throw in a city parking lot for $1.

The official vote will come once redevelopment contracts are written. Of course, it also depends on whether the developer, Batavia Enterprises Inc., agrees to the proposed terms.

BEI had estimated that it needed about $1.5 million in city help to make the project financially viable.

Aldermen Alan Wolff and Lucy Thelin Atac voted against the proposal. Wolff said he did not want sales tax used. Alderman Steve Vasilion, an architect, recused himself and left the room for the discussion, because BEI is one of his clients.

The property at 122 W. Wilson St. is in a tax-increment financing district, in which property taxes above the amount collected when the district was established in 1988 are devoted to increasing the value of property in the district. It was extended once, to 2027.

Aldermen agreed with BEI that there are more than $900,000 worth of extraordinary expenses associated with redeveloping the site. It will need to have 5 feet of fill added to level it, a storm sewer that runs under the current building will have to be moved, and the building will have to be built on piers due to poor soils.

The former hardware store was built more than 50 years ago over a man-made channel of the Fox River that was filled in with debris.

Under the proposal presented by assistant city administrator Jason Bajor, half of the $850,000 would likely be paid upfront. The rest would come over four or five years.

A TIF extension would have to be approved by the state legislature.

"You are only going to have a strong community if you have a strong downtown," Mayor Jeff Schielke said, saying that Batavia Enterprises has been a good partner in developing downtown Batavia for more than 50 years.

Schielke also said the city may seek an extension of the TIF district for other possible projects.

"I would suggest this is a project that we should prioritize and give some importance too," Schielke said.

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