The Arlington Heights village board on Monday approved a new tax increment financing district for the Hickory-Kensington area near the downtown in spite of concerns from residents and local business owners.
More than 30 residents attended Monday's meeting, and many expressed fear that their businesses would be forced to move to make way for redevelopment.
Contact information ( * required )
While nearly all trustees said they don't want the area to turn into an eminent domain situation, the village staff said nearly all businesses may eventually have to move.
The Hickory-Kensington TIF district is a proposed redevelopment of 35 acres east of downtown. It is north of Northwest Highway and bounded by Dryden Avenue, Miner Street and Belmont Avenue. The site is near Mariano's and the new Walgreens and primarily has older, industrial buildings.
According to the Hickory-Kensington Area Plan approved in 2012 by the village board, redevelopment would create "a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood which complements the downtown area, providing new housing and commercial opportunities in a walkable, pedestrian-friendly environment."
But several speakers at Monday's meeting asked trustees to allow the area to develop on its own.
Several generations of the Heller family attended the meeting to show their opposition. Heller Lumber is a fourth-generation Arlington Heights business that has been in the village for 91 years.
"We have always supported the village whenever we have been asked to do so," said owner Winifred Heller. "Heller Lumber has survived two recessions. We are still trying to recover from the last one and we do not have the means to relocate at this time."
Aside from the finances, Heller said the building at 24 N. Hickory has nearly a century of value in the village.
"Our building has such history. People love that we are a neighborhood lumberyard," she said. "You can't move that."
There are 24 businesses in the TIF district, which is proposed to be the future home of three-story to five-story buildings housing a mixture of residential and commercial properties.
The TIF district budget had allocated about $12 million for land acquisition and relocation. A TIF district limits property taxes that go to local governments and funnels the rest into redevelopment.
Bill Enright, deputy director of planning and community development, said there might be an opportunity for some businesses to redevelop within the new plan, but not all.
"We don't want to misconstrue this and say that these businesses can all stay here because that's not the intent of the plan," he said.
Trustees said while they were sympathetic to the business owners, the area has seen decline in assessed value over the past five years. They said the TIF district will be beneficial to the community overall.
"This is something our board takes very seriously. We are committed to retaining our businesses one way or another," said Mayor Tom Hayes. "We will look for ways to do that within this district and around the village. This is by no means a death sentence for any of these businesses."