It should have been a joyful occasion. After years of uncertainty and delays caused by situations ranging from the economic downturn to threats of a lawsuit, the Wheeling village board Monday approved a contract with Urban R2 for a $100 million redevelopment called Town Center.
The village will contribute the land -- formerly home to Wickes Furniture just west of village hall on Dundee Road -- and up to $8.6 million in tax increment financing district funds after the project produces the added property taxes.
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The development will feature 275 luxury apartments and retail space anchored by the first Flix Brewhouse in Illinois -- a combination eight-screen cinema, restaurant and brewery. And there will be a town center, a parklike spot for Wheeling residents to gather and stage events.
Village President Dean Argiris was obviously impatient with contract terms demanding a groundbreaking for Flix Brewhouse by August 2015 and the start of apartment buildings by April 2016 with completion a year later.
He asked Brad Friedman, executive vice president of Urban R2, when the developer would have plans ready for village approval.
"I don't want to wait two years; I don't want to wait one year," said Argiris.
Friedman said he expects the village plan commission and board to approve the final plans for the development within three months. Groundbreaking should be in the spring, he said.
Argiris' response was to insist the village staff keep elected officials up to date on any progress.
Trustees also voiced concern about the village's costs if the development fails.
Village Attorney Mallory Milluzzi told the board that if the developer defaults on the contract the village could repurchase the land for the $1 that Urban R2 is paying for it. However the village would also have to reimburse any lending institutions for money borrowed for the project or those banks could foreclose.
By agreeing to share tax revenue with four local governing bodies, the village avoided a lawsuit over its establishment of a new 23-year TIF district with similar boundaries to one it closed early. One major provision of the settlement will give local taxing bodies 80 percent of the new taxes generated by the Town Center development after Urban R2 receives its $8.6 million. That is expected to be in about 12 years,
In a TIF district all the increased property taxes go toward development inside the district unless the village agrees to share. The four boards that threatened to sue were Northwest Suburban High School District 214, Wheeling Township Elementary District 21, Indian Trails Library District and Wheeling Park District.