Parts of AT&T campus redevelopment project could get tax incentives

Hoffman Estates officials Monday established a joint review board to evaluate the possible use of a special tax district to provide an economic incentive for the nonresidential parts of a planned redevelopment of the former AT&T office campus.

Mayor Bill McLeod said he believed excluding the residential areas of the proposed City Works development of businesses, apartments and townhouses from the tax-increment financing district would help ensure that other taxing bodies like Barrington Unit District 220 would experience no reduction in property taxes on the parts of the site that would accommodate the new residents and students they would serve.

A TIF district works by freezing the amount of property taxes local governments receive at the level of the district's first year. But as the property is improved and values rise, the increase in the taxes goes to a fund earmarked for public improvements of the site. TIF districts expire after 23 years or when all public improvements are paid off.

A still pending state bill regarding incentives for the redevelopment of "Big Empties" like the AT&T buildings has been eyed by both Hoffman Estates and District 220 officials as a potentially better fit for the project. But there is no guarantee the bill could become law in time.

District 220 Superintendent Brian Harris said village officials are well aware of the district's concern that the number of new students not outweigh the additional taxes from the redevelopment.

District 220 school board President Brian Battle added that the school district still seeks more information to make its own analysis, but it is not objecting to this early step in the TIF district process.

New Jersey-based Somerset Development has agreed that the potential TIF district should exclude the 375 apartments and 175 townhouses planned for the 150-acre site.

The plan also calls for the redevelopment of the former AT&T buildings themselves into 1.2 million square feet of offices, 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and 80,000 square feet of conference space.

The joint review board, made up of all affected taxing bodies, will meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, at village hall, 1900 Hassell Road in Hoffman Estates. A public hearing on the project is set for 6:50 p.m. Monday, Jan. 7.

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