Wheeling Town Center moves forward

Updated 8/27/2013 5:56 AM
  • This is an artist's rendering of the proposed Wheeling Town Center. Developer Friedman Urban R2 expects to break ground in the summer of 2014.

    This is an artist's rendering of the proposed Wheeling Town Center. Developer Friedman Urban R2 expects to break ground in the summer of 2014. Courtesy of Friedman Urban R2

The proposed Wheeling Town Center took a step forward Monday night when the village board approved terms for the agreement to redevelop the property that housed the Wickes store on Dundee Road west of village hall.

Flix Brewhouse, a Texas-based movie theater that brews its own beer and serves food will anchor the project, which will include almost 100,000 square feet of restaurants and retail, 300 luxury apartments in a five-story building and a village green where officials envision farmers markets, art fairs and festivals.

Village President Dean Argiris said it has been a three-year struggle for the village and its exclusive developer, Urban R2 Co. of Chicago.

The village purchased the site, which is also close to the Metra station and Heritage Park, for $3.7 million in 2008. Officials will give the land to Urban R2 in three phases, according to the preliminary agreement. The village will also give the company $8.6 million in tax increment financing funds for infrastructure expenses, but only as the area produces extra property taxes. The agreement also limits building permit fees to $300,000. With a $100 million project the fees could be as high as $1.65 million, according to a statement by Mark Janeck, director of community development.

Argiris said any development this huge has risks, but appreciates the opinion of Michael Mondschain, the village's director of finance, that the draft agreement will not hurt the village.

Argiris said he hopes the project will spur other economic development in the Dundee and Lake-Cook Road corridors.

"We should all be proud of that," he said. "We have started working together. We were hard on you, and I am serious about the timelines."

After the meeting, Argiris said there is still a lot of work to do, and the next hurdle will be resetting the TIF for 23 years. Funds that go toward development within the TIF district rather than to local taxing bodies are based on the amount that assessed valuation increases, and the village and developer need today's current, lower assessment to start from, he said.

The village board can reset the TIF without the approval of affected taxing districts, including school districts, but would rather they agreed, said James Ferolo, village attorney.

Argiris said he had given John Melaniphy, the village's new director of economic development, and Brad Friedman, executive vice president of Urban R2, a deadline to produce an agreement.

Friedman credited Melaniphy with making the agreement possible, and said the improving economy helped. He said issues that stood in the way before included how the land would be conveyed. The company has letters of interest for tenants in almost 70 percent of the retail property, he said.

Friedman Urban R2 expects to break ground on the Wheeling Town Center in the summer of 2014.

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