Elmhurst City Council approves resolution to consider new downtown TIF

Elmhurst alderman Michael Bram comments on the proposed new downtown tax increment financing district plans at the Jan. 2 Elmhurst City Council meeting.[]

ELMHURST – The process toward approving a new tax increment financing district for downtown Elmhurst has advanced, following the Elmhurst City Council's 9-1 approval of a resolution at its Jan. 2 meeting.

The current downtown TIF, which was created in 1986, is set to expire in 2021. The plan is to end the current TIF early and put in a TIF with fewer properties but including some publicly owned properties, such as the Elmhurst Public Library and Wilder Park, so they can partner with the city on redevelopment and improvements to their properties, City Manager Jim Grabowski said at the Dec. 18, 2017, City Council meeting.

Upon completion of the private development of the proposed new TIF area over a 23-year period, the city estimates the equalized assessed value of the property within the area will be within a range of $75 million to $95 million, according to a report prepared by financial services firm Kane, McKenna and Associates, which specializes in municipal economic development.

Alderman Michael Bram motioned for the City Council to pull the resolution from the consent agenda at the Jan. 2 meeting. He argued the density and parking restrictions that have reportedly hampered downtown redevelopment have been resolved with the removal of a "zoning hurdle" and with the building of parking garages within and on the outskirts of downtown Elmhurst. He added there is a less than 5 percent vacancy rate in downtown Elmhurst.

"We always hear that Elmhurst is a great area because of its location, location, location – steps away from downtown city of Chicago, rail service, expressways all around us. And it is, and all those are facts," Bram said. "And if we all believe in that, why is there a necessity to do another 23-year TIF? I don't see it. I don't see why there's a necessity."

Elmhurst residents Tamara Brenner and Claude Pagacz voiced their concerns about the proposed TIF during public comment.

"I'm really not a big fan of ongoing government-subsidized capitalism, but that looks like what we're going to have for another 23 years. .... I wish all of these TIFs would go away, and then everybody could compete on real reasons, like the uniqueness of their community, their location, their amenities and things like that," Brenner said. "That would be a better way to attract business, rather than just handing them a few more dollars."

Pagacz said he wants to know why public parks would be included in a TIF.

Assistant City Manager Mike Kopp said in a phone interview Dec. 20, 2017, that the equalized assessed values of the proposed downtown TIF district have lagged behind the equalized assessed values in the rest of Elmhurst, and the city wants to help the downtown meet or exceed the rest of Elmhurst. Equalized assessed value is based on the land value and the improvement of the property, he said.

Kopp said public improvements are a TIF-eligible cost, so if the Elmhurst Public Library or Wilder Park, for example, need capital improvements, the Elmhurst City Council could use available TIF funds to assist in those projects since those properties are within the TIF.

The resolution set the date for the TIF Joint Review Board meeting at 5 p.m. Jan. 24 and a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. March 5 during the regularly scheduled City Council meeting. Both will be at Elmhurst City Hall, 209 N. York St.

The Joint Review Board will include a representative from each community college district, local elementary school district and high school district or each local community unit school district; park district; library district; township; fire protection district; and county that has authority to directly levy taxes on the property within the Redevelopment Project Area; the city of Elmhurst; and a public member selected in accordance with the act, according to the resolution.

Aldermen Noel Talluto, Kevin York, Michael Honquest and Jim Kennedy were absent from the Jan. 2 meeting.