Schaumburg, Motorola Solutions eyeing redevelopment agreement
Though Motorola Solutions is moving its global headquarters from Schaumburg to Chicago, a redevelopment agreement for a portion of its former campus is being negotiated that would retain 1,600 of the telecommunication company's employees on what would remain its world-class engineering facility.
Motorola officials plan to invest $80 million upfront to renovate the part of the 277-acre campus they plan to keep by leasing it back from the party to whom they sold it.
But the proposed agreement also calls for Motorola to be eligible for reimbursement of $27 million -- a third of that investment -- from the area's new tax-increment financing (TIF) district.
A TIF district works by freezing the level of property taxes paid to local governments at the level of its first year. As improvements increase the value of the property, the portion of taxes paid above that frozen level goes into a village fund to pay for public improvements.
TIF districts last for 27 years or until all public improvements are paid off -- whichever comes first.
Motorola would aim to start receiving annual reimbursements from its own property taxes if it's generated the targeted amounts of TIF funding by the 13th year.
Village trustees expressed differing levels of enthusiasm for the plan during a recent discussion.
Trustee Tom Dailly was particularly skeptical about the employment threshold Motorola must maintain to be eligible for the reimbursement.
Though Motorola says it plans to keep 1,600 employees on the site, its annual TIF reimbursement would fall to half during any year the number of workers fell below 1,100. And the reimbursement would drop to zero in a year in which the number of employees fell below 650.
Dailly said those margins are too wide for his comfort, and that he would prefer to see Motorola's reimbursement drop by 10 percent for every 100 employees it falls below target.
He said he didn't want Schaumburg to be used and abandoned by Motorola and essentially become another Harvard, where the company built a campus in the 1990s that it didn't fully use for very long.
Motorola representatives insisted the company wants to stay in Schaumburg. They said the proposed employment threshold for TIF reimbursement was modeled on the one used for Zurich North America to build its own new headquarters on an already sold-off portion of the Motorola campus.
Trustee Marge Connelly said she found the pending redevelopment agreement reasonable considering what the village is getting out of Motorola's continued presence. The fact that the company recently agreed to let the village fully design the $6 million road that would run through the redesigned campus was a big step forward in negotiations, she added.
The fact that Motorola could be reimbursed a third of its investment is testament to the fact that the company would receive tax incentives anywhere it might choose to relocate, Connelly said.
"Do we want to do it? No. But we're in competition with the rest of the market," she said.
On Tuesday, the village board will vote on what it calls a term sheet for TIF support of the Motorola plan. This sets the stage for approval of a more formal redevelopment agreement within 60 days.
Further negotiation of the terms of that agreement can take place in the meantime. Dailly said he's hopeful a compromise can be found regarding his concerns.