For more than a decade, Mundelein residents and merchants have wondered when someone was going to fix up the shopping center on the northwest corner of Route 45 and Hawley Street.
The Hawley Lake Plaza has seen better days. Several storefronts have been vacant for years, most notably a Walgreens drugstore that closed in 2000. The parking lot is crumbling, too.
Well, the time for a facelift may finally have arrived.
The village board on Monday approved a deal with the site's owner, TH Commercial Services, that calls for the company to receive a portion of sales-tax and property-tax revenue in exchange for improving the shopping center.
A new facade, new landscaping and new lighting are among the proposed changes.
Trustee Ray Semple believes the deal will help turn what he called "a very visible and very blighted property" into a thriving shopping center.
"This is an exciting one," Semple said before Monday's vote. "Hopefully it'll lead to new tenants."
Under the pact, the village will reimburse the company for half the cost of any improvements, up to $750,000. No money will be given out ahead of the necessary construction work. If the work is finished by a spring deadline, the company will receive 75 percent of the village's share of sales tax revenue generated by businesses in the plaza for five years. The company also will receive 75 percent of the village's share of property tax money generated by the center for five years. After that five-year period, the developer will receive 50 percent of the taxes generated by the site.
If the businesses don't generate enough sales, the owners won't get the full $750,000, officials have said.
The payouts will not exceed $40,000 annually. The deal will last no more than 20 years.
The tax-sharing deal first was publicized in May. Few details have changed since the original proposal. The biggest change gives the developer until April 30, 2016, to complete the work. The original target was Dec. 31, 2015.
Tax-sharing agreements are rare in Mundelein. Semple thinks this one is good for the village because the property owner won't see a dime until after the improvements are made. Additionally, it encourages the owner to find tenants that will generate the sought-after tax revenue, as opposed to a doctor's office or another type of business that doesn't sell a physical product.
"We're not just cutting a check for them and saying good luck," Semple said. "They have to perform."