West Chicago approves new downtown TIF district
West Chicago officials are hopeful that the creation of a special taxing district will spur downtown redevelopment.
This week, the city council voted 12 to 1 on ordinances designating a redevelopment project area and a tax increment financing (TIF) district. The new TIF district replaces a larger one that was dissolved by the city council at the end of last year.
In a TIF district, property taxes paid to local governments are frozen for up to 23 years. Any extra property tax money collected within the area after the district is established goes into a special fund to help pay for certain improvements.
Following the vote, Mayor Ruben Pineda cited the need for West Chicago's downtown to have more dining and other attractions to compete with neighboring towns.
"We need to rebuild this downtown, or it's going to die," Pineda said. "The goal is to make sure that our residents are happy and again have a destination area that they can go to and be proud of."
The newly created TIF district features 122 tax parcels. The boundaries are generally City Hall to the east, Main Street and the Union Pacific Railroad to the south, High Street, Washington Street and McConnell Avenue to the north, and Aurora Street to the west.
Ward 5 Alderman Matt Garling cast the sole no vote, while Ward 1 Alderman Lori Chassee was absent from the meeting.
"I'm not a large proponent of TIFs," said Garling before the vote, though he did praise city staff who negotiated with other taxing bodies during a Feb. 21 public hearing.
"They unanimously supported this new TIF, so that was very exciting to see because they're the ones impacted more than anybody else," said Mayor Pineda about the other taxing bodies having to wait 23 years before they can access the TIF district revenues. "It's important that they're on board with us, and we did have those conversations."
Pineda highlighted that several properties in the TIF district are already city-owned, which he suggested would be attractive for redevelopment.
"It makes it easier for a developer to come in, and we can make a deal," said Pineda, adding that rebuilding grants and facade programs could also be financed by the TIF.
Pineda also mentioned his goal for a new municipal government campus, which could see the city hall relocate from 475 Main Street to the northwest corner of Fremont and Washington Streets, which is the current site of Gallery 200.
"That's down the road when we're going to be able to afford it," Pineda said. "And we can make sure that those kinds of new developments happen."