Report: Downtown Deerfield eligible for TIF district

Deerfield trustees approved feasibility studies back on Aug. 1 to see if a portion of downtown might be eligible for a tax-increment financing district.

According to the consultant the village is working with on this, it is.

In a report before the board earlier this month, Deerfield's assistant manager and director of Community Development, Andrew Lichterman, said a feasibility study by the Chicago firm of Kane, McKenna and Associates found that a portion of the downtown business district and Village Center satisfied the seven qualifying factors to move forward with a TIF district.

The target area is Hazel Avenue south to Deerfield Road, and from Chestnut Street east to Rosemary Terrace.

A tax-increment financing district, which runs a maximum of 23 years, is a mechanism to increase development within a certain area.

Once a TIF is adopted, it freezes the level of payments to taxing jurisdictions until the TIF is retired. Increased tax revenues on top of that baseline - the increment - go into a fund that may be used for further development within the district.

When the TIF expires, the taxing jurisdictions receive a full tax share of what is anticipated to be property of higher value.

At the board's Aug. 1 meeting, Lichterman noted TIFs may attract investments into new businesses while retaining those currently there.

When in August the board discussed whether or not to seek the feasibility study, the approved resolution stated the village did not expect further long-term growth or investment to occur in the target area without a TIF.

It also discussed a TIF district for south of 909-1601 Lake-Cook Road to the Edens Expressway spur, bordered on the east by Pfingsten Road. Since that area is in Cook County, which has yet to release an updated tax rate report and likely is a month away from doing so, that feasibility study is still in process, Lichterman said.

As far as the Village Center area, Lichterman rattled off the seven qualifying factors Kane, McKenna and Associates investigated. The consultant found its equalized assessed value had risen more slowly than elsewhere in Deerfield and than the consumer price index three of the last five years; that 25% of the 40 commercial properties were vacant; that 90% were more than 50 years old and had deteriorated.

Also, Lichterman said the report indicated inadequacies in vehicular and pedestrian access, the water main along Waukegan Road was 60 years old, and sanitary sewer lines along Deerfield Road were too shallow.

Finally, the consultant reported that many of the buildings predated the village's 1955 comprehensive plan, indicating a lack of contemporary community planning.

"For that reason," Lichterman said, nodding to all seven factors, "staff is recommending that we engage Kane, McKenna, the consultants, to move forward with a Phase II report."

Phase II deals with finalizing the qualification reports, preparing the TIF plan, coming up with the budgets and costs, coordinating a Joint Review Board, attending public hearings and other preparatory facets.

The resolution authorizing Kane, McKenna and Associations to work on Phase II at a cost of no more than $30,000 passed 5-0.

The timeline remains January 2023 for possible adoption of a downtown TIF, but the Lake-Cook report must come in first. Lichterman said that feasibility study should be ready in about 30 days, and the same timeline and processes would apply as for downtown.

"We'd want to see the final feasibility study for Lake-Cook Road before we recommend how to move forward," Lichterman said.

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