Some Glen Ellyn residents want apartments back in TIF district

Updated 9/11/2013 5:51 AM

Some Glen Ellyn residents want the Parkside Apartments included again within the boundaries of a proposed tax increment financing district, but it appears that request won't be granted.

Those who live in the neighborhood adjacent to the eight apartment buildings at 18 N. Parkside Ave. asked village officials this week to reconsider their decision to remove the properties from a redevelopment plan aimed at spurring economic development along the Roosevelt Road corridor.

The decision to remove the apartments was made in late July, following a major lobbying effort by apartment residents and supporters from area organizations, including World Relief DuPage/Aurora, which provides services to many of the refugees who live at Parkside. They had previously received a letter from the village that it was "reasonably expected" redevelopment of the area could result in their displacement.

Homeowners who live close to the apartments told the village board they want the apartments back in the tax increment finance district boundaries in an effort to redevelop a rundown area. In a TIF, the assessed value of property is frozen for the purpose of distributing tax money to local units of government. But the increase in taxes created by the improved or redeveloped properties are funneled back into improvements, such as roads and other infrastructure.

"I'm very disappointed that was removed," said Renie Atchison, a local Realtor who lives on nearby Forest Avenue. "It is not a safe environment for the World Relief children, or my children or any of my neighbors. It has directly impacted my family. It's a slum. It needs to be addressed."

"These children are living in a war zone, and it's not OK," Atchison said.

A resident who lives in a nearby condominium, Fiore Carrino, said his condo association has made $6,000 worth of repairs as a result of damage done by individuals he believes reside at Parkside. That includes repairs to a fence between the two properties and replacement of broken lights in the parking lot.

Now Carrino says the condo board is considering installing a security system "to have complete video documentation of all that's being done there."

"She says it's a war zone. I live next door to it. It's worse than a war zone," Carrino said. "There's not a day that goes by that damage isn't done in our area."

Village Manager Mark Franz said the apartments were removed from the boundaries of the proposed TIF district at the request of the residents who lobbied for the removal, but also because potential developers who seek to build new construction on the site would be obligated to pay relocation costs for residents, under the state TIF act.

"The costs are substantial," Franz said. "The TIF proceeds would have been spent for that, and not necessarily to invest in the property."

Village President Alex Demos added the TIF "could put stresses that precludes certain investors from investing in that property."

However, both officials left open the possibility that the TIF boundaries could be expanded to include the apartments at a later date. That would be at least a four month process, according to Bob Rychlicki of Kane, McKenna and Associates, the village's TIF consultant.

Formal establishment of the Roosevelt Road TIF district and approval of the initial TIF district boundaries -- without the Parkside Apartments -- is expected with a village board vote on Sept. 23.

Franz said it's possible reinvestment throughout the rest of the TIF district could spur development at the Parkside location.

"Everyone agrees those apartments are not going to be here in 20 years. There has to be a major investment for those to remain viable," Franz said. "We should encourage development with or without a TIF."

In response to concerns from residents who live near the apartments, Demos said the village is "very seriously taking these problems to light."

"It's on our radar screen," he said.

Ben Lowe, a Parkside resident who was one of the organizers of the effort to remove the apartments from the TIF boundaries, said Tuesday he was disappointed to hear about the comments from residents who live near Parkside. But he did extend an invitation to meet with them.

"We'd love to talk to them and invite them to our community, just like we did with the village president," Lowe said. "One of the things he told us was he didn't know anything about our community, but when he got to visit, he was amazed at the sense of community we have here."

Glen Ellyn officials proposed creation of a TIF district on Roosevelt Road earlier this year in light of the increasing number of business vacancies and lack of private development.

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