A stagnant plan to redevelop the northeast corner of Arlington Heights and Golf roads with a new Target store may have new life next year if Arlington Heights can secure a 12-year extension for a tax increment financing district encompassing the site.
A TIF district was created for the area in 2002, but years of lawsuits and the recession caused the original developers to drop the project, stalling redevelopment of the 35-acre parcel that includes the International Plaza Shopping Center. A deal to build a SuperTarget on the property fell through in 2007.
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With the litigation now settled, the village is looking to extend the life of TIF 4, which is set to expire in 2025, for 12 more years. That would allow the project to reach completion and collect enough money to pay back developer incentives, Village President Tom Hayes said.
An extension would need to be approved by the Illinois legislature, where state Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights already has agreed to be a sponsor.
But it also will need the support of all taxing bodies within the TIF. Hayes said he has been encouraged by meetings between village representatives and the boards of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, Arlington Heights Park District, Elk Grove Elementary District 59 and Northwest Suburban High School District 214.
If the village wins their backing, it or a developer would then need to acquire the rest of the land needed for the project. Hayes said he hopes it won't turn into an eminent domain battle.
Target may be interested in coming back into the project, but there is no agreement yet, officials said.
"We're not limiting ourselves to that," Hayes said. "We'd like to entertain developers who have an interest and would provide a quality development there, so we are still pursuing that. There's no agreement in place, but by early next year we hope to get this extension through and have a willing developer on board."
Charles Witherington-Perkins, Arlington Heights director of planning and community development, said the village has three choices: Let the TIF expire and drop the redevelopment, create another TIF, or extend the current TIF to 2037. The village has chosen the third option.
"We do have a developer that's interested," Perkins said. "But the estimated project costs are pretty significant. There would not be enough revenue in the remaining life of this TIF to cover those costs and get the developer to invest here." Village officials discussed the issue earlier this month with the school board in District 214.
"I know 'TIF' is probably the only three-letter word that's worse than 'tax' because you rely so heavily on tax dollars to do all that you do," Hayes told the school board. "We at the village board utilize TIF on a very cautious basis. We've seen some very good fruits of this economic tool, especially in downtown Arlington Heights."
Under a TIF, property taxes distributed from properties in the district are frozen at current levels. Any additional tax dollars generated by development of the site are redirected to pay off development costs or other improvements on the site.
But Arlington Heights officials say they are willing to see that other government bodies receive a share of any tax revenue increase during the 12-year extension.
District 214 board members were cautiously supportive of the idea.
"I grit my teeth when I get something like this because I live in the district and I pay taxes in the district and I don't want my taxes to go up," said District 214 board member Mimi Cooper. "But I know sitting on this board I have to find balance. It's helpful to me that there's going to be some concept of sharing in the interim."
The District 214 board will vote on the TIF extension at its Jan. 9 meeting.