Lombard seeking ways to spur redevelopment around Yorktown, Butterfield Road
Tucked among the Westin hotel, an AMC movie theater and an office building on Butterfield Road in Lombard lies a seminary that has largely moved elsewhere and is working to sell its 27-acre campus.
The village of Lombard could turn the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary and another nearly 75 acres nearby into a special financing district that officials say will help spur redevelopment.
"It's front and center in Lombard," Community Development Director Bill Heniff said about the seminary, which the village would like to see reborn as a mixed-use center with an emphasis on housing. "We see this as a great redevelopment possibility. But we also know it's going to have a lot of challenges."
The 100-acre redevelopment area, which includes parts of Yorktown Center, is expected to be designated a TIF, or a tax-increment financing district, during an Oct. 19 meeting.
"I think it's going to help that area out tremendously," Village President Keith Giagnorio said.
The move would address not only the seminary's obsolete buildings, but the tenuous future of the suburban shopping mall. The national trend toward the decline of regional malls is especially concerning in Lombard, which Village Manager Scott Niehaus said supports $12 million of its $36 million general fund budget from sales taxes.
The TIF would encompass some of the mall's parking lots and ring road, the Yorktown Convenience Center north of the mall and the JCPenney store within the mall, along with an office building on 22nd Street, the Westin hotel and the seminary campus.
While the Lombard JCPenney was not among 138 stores the chain closed this summer, Niehaus said the village must prepare.
"The black cloud hanging overhead is a 150,000-square-foot retail space that could go dark in the future," he said.
That's why revenue from the proposed TIF could be so significant -- "a greatly added benefit for our community," as trustee Bill Johnston says.
In a TIF district, the assessed value of land is frozen for the purpose of calculating how much property tax dollars local governments receive. As property values increase, the difference between what the governments collect and the higher taxes the land generates is put into a fund that helps pay for certain improvements within the TIF district, such as roads and other infrastructure.
Property taxes flowing to the village, the park district, the library district and four school districts would be frozen for 23 years. All governments affected by the proposal approved the TIF's creation during a meeting in August, Giagnorio said.
The TIF fund stands to generate money as soon as the seminary property is sold, Heniff said. That's because, as a religious use, it does not pay property taxes.
As soon as a developer buys it, the site will be assessed and taxes will be due to match the valuation. Those tax payments, along with natural inflation in the values of other properties within the TIF, will help it generate its first funds to dole out for projects to support redevelopment, Finance Director Tim Sexton said.
The village is able to designate the land a TIF because consultant Kane McKenna and Associates determined it meets at least three of the 13 criteria set by the state. In fact it meets six, Heniff said: obsolete buildings, deteriorating structures, excessive vacancies, inadequate utilities, lack of community planning and declining assessed values.
The village has created a redevelopment budget capped at $125 million that can be spent during the TIF's 23-year duration. The plan calls for spending $13 million on studies, engineering and site plans; $22.7 million to buy and assemble properties; $10 million on upgrading streets, sidewalks, lighting, traffic signals, stormwater management, sanitary sewer and landscaping; $14.3 million on financing; and $42.8 million on payments to school and library districts if the area generates new residents.
The redevelopment area, called the Butterfield Yorktown TIF, would be the village's fourth tax-increment financing district after a downtown TIF was established in 1989 and extended 12 years. Two TIFs were created on St. Charles Road in 2003 and 2004.
"This helps level the playing field for these properties relative to the rest of the (Butterfield Road) corridor," Heniff said.
If the district is approved next month, the village plans to complete the paperwork necessary to establish it by the end of the year.