Elk Grove Village is home to the largest contiguous business park in country, hosting some 3,500 companies that employ about 80,000 people.
The 62 million-square-foot industrial area, adjacent to O'Hare International Airport on the village's east side, is also what Mayor Craig Johnson calls the "golden goose" for village coffers, providing 82 cents of every dollar the village collects in taxes.
But it's also home to aging buildings, streets and other infrastructure.
That's why Johnson and village officials say they're proposing a Tax Increment Financing district for a portion of the business park. The proposed TIF would help fund redevelopment efforts, in hopes of keeping the area an attractive place for businesses.
"We want to make sure we keep it strong, shiny, and producing those golden eggs for our schools, park district, library, village and county," Johnson said. "We've got a huge tax base here. We want to make sure it stays strong and vibrant."
Officials want to implement the TIF district in a 917-acre area throughout the Busse Road and Elmhurst Road corridors. The setup would allow property taxes paid to local governments to be frozen at their current level for as many as 23 years. Property taxes above that level collected within the area will then go into a special fund controlled by the village. That money would be funneled back into public and private improvements.
Johnson said "all options are on the table" as to how the funds could be used, from helping fund the redevelopment of substandard, obsolete or vacant buildings, to paying for roadway construction and repaving. The funds also could pay for public utility improvements, demolition and site preparation, environmental remediation, marketing, relocation, and job training costs.
A 2011 update to the village's business park master plan approved by the industrial/commercial revitalization commission recommended $250 million in infrastructure improvements and other redevelopment projects throughout the park. One of the ways to fund the work, according to the report, was to establish a TIF district.
Johnson said reinvestment is needed to compete with new business parks that are popping up in Will County and areas west of Elgin.
More than three-quarters of buildings in the proposed Elk Grove TIF district are older than 35 years. Many have outdated designs and standards, such as low ceilings and loading docks that front main streets, leading to traffic jams.
"We've got to find a way to make sure we stay viable for those businesses to want to pick Elk Grove over other locations," Johnson said. "It's difficult when you have those old outdated buildings to service them."
Elk Grove Village has had only two other TIF districts, both of which resulted in new retail developments at old shopping centers: at the Elk Grove Town Center near Biesterfield and Arlington Heights roads, and a shopping center near Devon Avenue and Nerge Road.
The village is working with Camiros, Ltd., a TIF consultant, to prepare a TIF eligibility study that should be available on the village's website by Dec. 8. The village board will formally consider approval of the study on Dec. 17. A joint review board of all taxing bodies within the proposed district will convene between Jan. 2 and Jan. 16. A public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 11, and the village board could vote to approve the TIF district on Feb. 25.