Santa's Village likely to get help from East Dundee for improvements
East Dundee trustees on Monday backed plans to borrow $1.75 million to help make improvements at Santa's Village a reality.
The money would pay for the construction of a lazy river at the amusement park. Santa's Village would repay 65% of the loan to the village over the next seven years. The remaining 35% would be covered through funds from a tax increment financing district.
"I really believe, given Santa's Village reputation and their performance over the last few years, that this new addition will work nicely," East Dundee Village President Jeff Lynam said Tuesday. "It will certainly pay for itself. We're excited about it."
Santa's Village officials anticipate the addition of a lazy river will mean another 600 guests a day to the park.
"Increased attendance equates to more amusement tax and more sales tax for the village," Santa's Village President Jason Sierpien said, adding the park brings more than 200,000 guests to East Dundee annually.
Park officials in April presented plans for park improvements to village trustees and asked for financial assistance. Improvement plans include the lazy river and the renovation of the Polar Dome.
Storlie said the bond issuance would not cover the Polar Dome improvements at this point.
Santa's Village closed at the end of the summer season in 2005 but reopened in 2011 with new ownership. Since then, the park ownership has poured more than $20 million into renovations at the popular amusement destination, which includes typical amusement park rides, animals and a water park.
Village trustees must still approve a redevelopment agreement, which will lay out the particulars of the loan and repayment. Village Administrator Erika Storlie said part of the agreement will include details on how Santa's Village plans to secure its portion of the loan. She noted the village would require security that would allow them to lien the property if Santa's Village defaults on the loan.
"There is some level of risk," Storlie said. "But past performance has been solid."
Storlie said the village has enough in the TIF district that includes Santa's Village to cover its own portion of bond repayment.
Sierpien said the park is ready to break ground on the project as soon as the village finalizes an agreement and makes the bonds available for the project. Assuming there are no delays in the project, Sierpien is hopeful the lazy river will be open in time for the 2023 park season.
Storlie said the redevelopment agreement is expected to be on the agenda for the July 18 village board meeting, and the bond sale could occur in early August.