Des Plaines alderman: Mariano's deal is a win-win for all involved

  • The Des Plaines City Council voted in favor of two tax incentive deals Monday they say will help bring a Mariano's grocery store to the intersection of Mount Prospect and Golf roads. The tax breaks will help the store's developers fund needed infrastructure improvements around the site, officials said.

      The Des Plaines City Council voted in favor of two tax incentive deals Monday they say will help bring a Mariano's grocery store to the intersection of Mount Prospect and Golf roads. The tax breaks will help the store's developers fund needed infrastructure improvements around the site, officials said. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
By Jeff Engelhardt
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 5/5/2015 6:24 PM

A proposed Mariano's in Des Plaines is closer to reality after the city council unanimously approved two key financial incentives Monday that developers say are crucial to a deal being finalized.

The first incentive is a Cook County tax exemption that would lower property taxes for 12 years on the 10-acre site at the northeast corner of Golf and Mount Prospect roads. If the county board authorizes the city-supported exemption, Mariano's could save more than $1 million over the life of the deal, and potentially more depending on how much taxes increase, said George Sakas, director of community and economic development for Des Plaines.

 

That incentive would be paired with another offered by the city that would rebate to Mariano's 50 percent of the sales taxes generated by the store, up to $875,000. Sakas said it would take roughly 3½ years to reach that amount if the business meets projections.

Developers consider the incentives necessary for the $24 million project. In addition to tearing down the old Motor Coach Industries facility on the site, developers will invest $1.3 million in improvements, including an additional traffic light on Golf Road, widening lanes and adding turn lanes near the intersection to improve traffic flow.

"We tried to get creative with ways to recoup those costs," Sakas said, adding that the sales tax breaks will help pay the developers' infrastructure costs. "The city would not pay a dime."

Alderman Dick Sayad, whose Ward 4 includes the proposed Mariano's site, said the deal is a win-win for all involved. Even with the property tax exemption, the store would pay double the roughly $130,000 in property taxes the site currently generates, and the sales tax windfall for the city is expected to be $400,000 to $450,000 annually after the rebate agreement expires.

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"The majority of people I've talked to are for this," Sayad said. "(Mariano's) is very successful."

But not every resident agreed.

The council heard concerns ranging from traffic and safety issues to doubts about the grocery chain's chance for success in that location, and even some displeasure with the city's willingness to offer tax breaks to developers.

"Why do they need a tax incentive?" asked resident Michael Pesola, arguing that a business willing to invest $24 million in the project should want the property enough to forego incentives. "This is a hot property."

Pesola also objected last month to the Des Plaines Park District decision to grant an easement on the southern portion of Blackhawk Park to developers for a driveway leading to the store's parking lot. While the park district received more land on the other end and $670,337 for upgrades to the park, Pesola believes it could be unsafe to have children playing so close to an area with heavy semitrailer truck traffic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The city council also heard from residents who supported the project.

"Thank you for bringing this opportunity to Des Plaines," said resident Rebecca Fowler. "There are plenty of people who really want a store like this to come."

Officials say construction of the store could begin in the spring of 2016.

Voting in favor of the incentive packages was one of the final acts of Alderman Mark Walsten, who ended his 8-year run on the city council Monday by serving as temporary mayor because of the unexpected absence of Mayor Matt Bogusz.

Walsten said he was a big supporter of the Mariano's project and believed it is a sign of the proactive approach Des Plaines is taking to attract top businesses and strengthen the community. He thanked residents of Ward 6 for their support over the years and even apologized for the few calls he failed to return during his tenure.

"It has been an honor," Walsten said.

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