River Forest is taking the first steps toward restarting the creation of a tax increment finance district along the entire length of North Avenue. 

Trustees on Feb. 13 directed staff to bring Kane McKenna back on board to review, and if necessary, redo some studies that will be needed to form the district, part of a strategy to reshape the village’s long-term economic picture. 

Kane McKenna, which has been engaged in the creation of the Lake Street and Madison Street TIFS and began studies of North Avenue, should be starting in the next couple of weeks, Village Administrator Eric Palm said.

Boundaries and reports will be confirmed by the Economic Development Commission before they come back to the board, village officials said. The EDC was engaged in the TIF process for Madison and North Avenue when it began in 2014.

The reports will set out the plans to revitalize the area from Thatcher Avenue on the west to Harlem Avenue on the east. A report will revisit whether the area can still qualify as a TIF.  In a draft report issued in May 2014, Kane McKenna recommended creation of a TIF because, among other reasons, current conditions impede redevelopment and viable redevelopment sites could produce incremental revenue. According to the report, “that revenue, used in combination with other village resources for redevelopment incentives or public improvements, would likely stimulate private investment and reinvestment in these sites and ultimately throughout the TIF District.” 

A timeline for when the process will start and when it will be concluded has not yet been set, Palm said. 

Planning to establish TIFs along North Avenue and Madison Street started in January 2015. The village decided to put planning for North on hold in 2016 to concentrate on Madison because the former presented complex issues, such as shallower lot lines and more residential properties, Village President Catherine Adduci said. Doing both at one time was too much to take on, she added.

At the same time Kane McKenna is conducting its work, a strategy will be put together to inform residents about the TIF.  Palm and Adduci said the village will be more proactive in its outreach and communications than it was during the process for Madison Street. The information that will be going out will be about the process and about the nuts-and-bolts, Palm said. 

“One of the lessons we learned was that we needed to get information out sooner,” Adduci said. “Residents (in the North Avenue area) will be kept apprised every step along the way.”

TIFs would be a tool in the village’s toolbox to jump-start new retail, commercial and residential development and an important way to implement recommendations from the 2010 Corridor Study, village officials said. 

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