Why Wheeling officials approved a tax break for vacant land on Restaurant Row
The owner of a nearly 1.4-acre lot on the north end of Wheeling's Restaurant Row is slated to receive a steep property-tax discount as an incentive to put up a commercial building there.
The village board has approved a 12-year reduction in the assessment rate for the property at 751 N. Milwaukee Ave. The lot is in front of the Westin Chicago North Shore hotel, north of a shopping center that includes a Dunkin' doughnut shop and other businesses.
The deal awaits final approval from the Cook County Board at an unspecified meeting. Village officials expect it to pass.
A Texas-based limited liability company called Sana Corp. has owned the lot since 2017. It's paved and has never been developed.
The original plans for the hotel property called for an approximately 10,000-square-foot building on the site, according to village documents.
Sana Corp. bought the lot at auction, intending to build there, documents indicate. The company envisions a building with three storefront tenants, possibly shops or restaurants, Sana Corp. attorney Cristin Duffy said.
But no tenants have agreed to lease space. An unidentified coffee shop chain has shown interest in opening a drive-through operation there, Duffy said, but nothing has been finalized.
Duffy said another company is interested in leasing space, too.
Sana Corp. hopes a tax reduction will help attract tenants, as their rent would be lower than without the discount. So does Patrick Ainsworth, Wheeling's economic development director.
"This area is one of our best retail (and) restaurant areas," Ainsworth told the village board during a meeting last week. "I am confident we will get a lot of interest ... in a very short amount of time."
The regular assessment rate for commercial property in Cook County is 25% of the fair market value. The proposed break would reduce the assessment rate to 10% for the first 10 years, to 15% for the 11th year and to 20% for the 12th year.
The 12-year period would begin once construction is completed, according to the county's rules.
The village board approved the deal with a pair of unanimous votes. Video of the discussion can be found on the village's YouTube channel at youtube.com/user/wheelingiltv.