Mundelein may create new taxing district to promote redevelopment on south side

  • Mundelein's Oak Creek Plaza has been filled with vacant storefronts for years.

    Mundelein's Oak Creek Plaza has been filled with vacant storefronts for years. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, 2018

 
 
Updated 8/11/2020 8:05 AM

Mundelein officials are considering creating a special taxing district to help fund public improvements in the high-traffic commercial zone on the village's south side.

But approval of a tax increment financing district for the area would be months away and would follow many public discussions and talks with the government agencies that would be financially affected by the plan.

 

Officials are focusing on commercial property along the south side of Townline Road -- also known as Route 60 -- between the merged Route 60/83 and Butterfield Road, as well as some properties to the south.

The biggest single property in the zone is the 42-acre Oak Creek Plaza shopping center, which is on the south side of Route 60 and just east of Route 45.

Redeveloping the shopping center long has been a primary goal at village hall. Although some free-standing restaurants near the front of the plaza operate, the center's contiguous storefronts have stood vacant for years.

Texas-based developer D.R. Horton wants to build single-family houses and townhouses on the plaza site, but that proposal hasn't been finalized.

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Village officials think a TIF district could encourage activity there and to the west, where Elly's Pancake House, Empire Buffet, Prestige Auto Spa and other businesses operate.

Officials discussed their options Monday night during a committee-of-the-whole meeting held remotely because of the COVID-19 crisis. Consultant Robert Rychlicki of the Kane, McKenna and Associates financial services firm also spoke about the plan.

In a TIF district, tax revenue generated by a property's increasing value or new development is diverted to a fund that pays for land purchases, infrastructure improvements and other projects. Annual tax payments to government agencies such as the village, schools, libraries and park districts are frozen at pre-TIF levels until the district expires.

TIF districts legally can last 23 years or longer.

To qualify for TIF status, properties must legally qualify as blighted. Rychlicki said the sites being eyed qualify because they have inadequate utilities and excessive vacancies, they're functionally obsolete and they're physically deteriorating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Mayor Steve Lentz spoke in favor of the concept.

"There's a need for great investments in public improvements there," he said.

Trustees Kerston Russell, Kara Lambert and Ray Semple all quickly voiced support for the plan, too. But Trustees Robin Meier, Erich Schwenk and Dawn Abernathy were hesitant, saying they first want a policy ensuring developers would pay for work and be reimbursed with TIF district funds rather than having the village front the money.

"I won't support a TIF without some sort of policy about how reimbursements are going to be made," Meier said.

Occasionally, officials with government agencies that are included in TIF districts object to such plans because their tax revenue is affected. Meetings with such agencies will be scheduled, officials said.

Mundelein already has two TIF districts, both in the downtown area.

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