Arlington Hts. residents not sold on TIF district

Updated 4/4/2014 1:07 PM
  • Proposed redevelopment plans for the Hickory and Kensington area in Arlington Heights include a mix of retail and commercial property.

    Proposed redevelopment plans for the Hickory and Kensington area in Arlington Heights include a mix of retail and commercial property. submitted by Village of Arlington Heights

Residents voiced their concerns about a proposed new tax increment financing district in Arlington Heights at a meeting on Wednesday, the first step in the process of establishing the district for redevelopment in the Hickory-Kensington neighborhood.

About 35 people attended Wednesday's meeting to hear details of the TIF district, which according to the Hickory/Kensington Area Plan approved by the village board in 2012 would create "a vibrant, mixed use neighborhood which complements the downtown area, providing new housing and commercial opportunities in a walkable pedestrian friendly environment."

The TIF district would include properties on Hickory and most of the surrounding area except for the recently redeveloped Mariano's and Walgreens. Over the life of a 23-year TIF district, the equalized assessed valuation of the area could improve from $9 million to between $30 million and $40 million, said Bill Enright, deputy director of planning and community development.

"The idea here is not to create another downtown," Enright said. "The plan is to look at the potential future for the area."

According to the village, all of the buildings in the Hickory-Kensington area are at least 35 years old, with the exception of recent properties such as Mariano's, Walgreens and the townhouses. Many are more than 50 years old.

A plan, with more details about the redevelopment goals will be published on the village website next week. Several more meetings will be held in the next few months before the village board votes in July.

"This is a long-term plan, it's not going to happen overnight," said Director of Planning and Community Development Charles Perkins.

But some residents had concerns about the redevelopment, which could involve buildings up to five stories high.

"If the market isn't going to develop the area, why are we forcefully making it develop? Let the developers do it on their own," said resident Keith Moens.

Moens questioned the success of TIF districts, but village officials pointed to downtown Arlington Heights as an example.

"What we have downtown today would never have developed the way it is without TIFs," Perkins said.

Another resident asked about the businesses in the TIF district, which would likely need to relocate. Perkins said the village has begun meeting with businesses in the area and would be able to work with them for relocation. If they choose not to sell, the village can try to acquire the land through eminent domain, but Perkins said that is rarely used.

Were the village board to institute the TIF district, property taxes paid to all local governments within the area would be frozen at their current levels for as many as 23 years. Property taxes collected above those levels would be allocated to a special village fund used to pay for public and private improvements.

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