River Forest TIF cash targets Town Center development

Funds also approved to install electronic document system at village hall


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By Ben Meyerson

Chicago Journal Editor

Lake and Lathrop isn't the only project that got last-minute cash from River Forest's economic development fund — the village is also using funds for vacancies in River Forest Town Center to entice someone to fill the shopping center's big holes.

River Forest's village board approved $336,000 to help fill vacancies in the Town Center — most notably the old Linens 'n' Things space — Monday night, as well as installing two new street lights for $13,000. The board declined to spend $27,000 to retrofit street lights with power outlets so the village can hang holiday decorations on them.

Inside village hall, the board approved $13,000 for an electronic document storage system, and will likely approve $105,000 for repairs to the building's heating and air conditioning system at a meeting Thursday night.
The village had discussed for years using TIF funds to help fill the gaps at Town Center, one of the first projects built with development cash, but the village didn't have a formal conversation with the landlord, Mid-America Real Estate, until this month.

Village Administrator Eric Palm recommended the $336,000 subsidy by calculating the sales tax the village could reap with a year's worth of sales tax from all of the roughly 42,000 square feet sitting vacant in the Town Center.

The funds can be used for subdividing and developing the Town Center's vacancies, according to the contract, and the village has discretion about when and how to dole it out.

Including all the projects proposed and passed at Monday's meeting, Palm estimated roughly $3 million will be left in the TIF fund. That money will be declared a surplus on Thursday, and will be distributed to the taxing bodies that are entitled to property tax dollars.

This story has been corrected from a previous version that appeared online and in print to reflect that the board declined to spend $27,000 to add power outlets to street lights.

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Lee Barry from River Forest  

Posted: December 18th, 2010 8:17 AM

What communities need are centers that provide artists, inventors and entrepreneurs studio or lab space to develop their ideas. Vacant big-box stores are perfect for this. They can be segmented into separate work bays (cubicles) around the perimeter, with a communal space in the center. Essentially it would be a skunkworks. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skunkworks_project

jen from oak park  

Posted: December 16th, 2010 7:40 AM

River Forest should court the people that opened Family Grounds in Lincoln Park. Cool coffee shop in the front with a seperate are for kids play www.familygroundscafe.com. The place would be packed!

Oakparkerr from Oak Park  

Posted: December 15th, 2010 8:34 PM

I'll be curious to see what stores will be coming to Town Center.

tom from River Forest  

Posted: December 14th, 2010 3:14 PM

Why did it take our village board so long to figure out that the empty store fronts at the Town Center were not going to be filled without a rent subsidy? They should have committed TIF funds to renting that space the minute that they learned that Linens and Things was leaving. Instead they spent way too much time figuring out ways to give our tax dollars to the developments of insiders and friends. Thankfully, control over the TIF funds will soon be out of their incompetent hands.

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