Buffalo Grove trustees give Lake-Cook TIF district a thumbs-up

Buffalo Grove trustees voted Monday in favor of a new tax increment financing district they hope will boost economic development efforts in the Lake-Cook Road corridor.

They also agreed to a resolution allowing Kensington Development, which plans a $100 million redevelopment of the Town Center shopping plaza along the corridor, to receive reimbursement for eligible expenses. Those include public infrastructure, land assembly and financing costs.

The TIF district will help set in motion the village's 2018 Lake-Cook Corridor Market Study and Plan. Town Center, at McHenry and Lake-Cook roads, and the Chase Plaza at the western end of the corridor are key elements of the plan.

The redevelopment project area incorporates most of the land in the Lake-Cook corridor. It consists of 330 acres roughly bounded by Arlington Heights Road to the west, McHenry Road to the east, Old Checker Road to the north and Lake-Cook Road to the south. It includes approximately 109 tax parcels and 38 buildings.

Village consultant SB Friedman Development Advisors said the area qualifies as a blighted area based on factors such as a lack of growth in property values and excessive vacancies.

Friedman said the TIF district's estimated limit of development costs will be $96 million over the next 23 years.

Trustee Joanne Johnson voted in favor of the TIF district, saying the struggles of the Town Center have long been an issue.

“We can continue to do what the village has been doing for the last three decades if our residents want a warehouse store in a strip mall on a corridor with a 15% vacancy rate, or we can try to stimulate change, based on a development plan that our residents helped write,” she said.

Trustee Lester Ottenheimer III said, “We want to make Buffalo Grove the best it can be, and this is one of the ways we can start doing it.”

Last week, it was announced that Kensington had entered into a contract to purchase and redevelop the 20-acre Town Center property with retail, restaurants and multifamily housing.

Kensington's concept calls for several restaurants and retail buildings along the Route 83 frontage, a 30,000 to 50,000-square-foot retail structure along Lake-Cook Road, a 4- to 5-story, primarily residential building with a parking deck and commercial and office uses on the first floor, and a large green space and gathering area along Route 83.

The existing Boston Market, Burger King and Bowlero are not part of the redevelopment plan.

Public comment on the TIF district ran the gamut.

Resident Craig Horwitz said the plan is out of date, given the change in market factors during COVID-19 pandemic, and he disputed the data showing a decline in value. He said the parcels have experienced a 6 percent increase in equalized assessed valuation since 2013, not the 3.9 decline shown by Friedman.

Resident Leon Gopon, however, spoke in support, saying, “We want the Town Center to become something like it was supposed to be. We at least have an opportunity to do that now.”

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