River Forest officials will use a state grant to demolish three buildings in the Madison Street Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District in an effort to make the site more desirable to developers.

The village board voted unanimously at the Sept. 26 meeting to award a contract to Anthem Excavation and Demolition of Itasca to demolish the former Lutheran Child and Family Services (LCFS) building at 7612-7620 Madison and single family homes at 11 Ashland Avenue and 10 Lathrop Avenue for $284,000. The contractor is responsible for asbestos abatement.

Funding will come from an Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development (DCEO) grant that the village received earlier this year, which would have covered costs up to $350,000.

The Madison Street TIF District, which was created in November 2016, includes 98 tax parcels and 45 structures. The district includes the northern portion of Madison between Lathrop and Thatcher avenues and includes several properties just north of Madison.

The three buildings to be demolished have sat empty since they were purchased by the village — the LCFS building in 2017; 10 Lathrop in 2018; and 11 Ashland in 2019. The village has actively marketed the site for redevelopment but officials said they have not received any viable proposals. They are hoping developers will be drawn to the site once it is cleared.

Three neighbors of the properties to be demolished appeared at the Sept. 26 meeting to express concerns about possible damage to their homes; parking and traffic issues; fencing around the site before and after demolition; and a possible rodent infestation.

Village Administrator Brian Murphy noted that village staff members had met with neighbors in August and would be willing to meet with them again to address their concerns.

“We want to be very good neighbors to our neighbors,” he said.

Once two minor hurdles are cleared, officials are hoping to begin demolition in October and complete the project in 4-6 weeks. The LCFS building will be demolished first.

The project also will include topsoil and seed blanketing of the site, which might be delayed until spring if weather conditions are not conducive when demolition is complete.

To receive the DCEO grant, 30 percent of the funds are required to go to state-certified minority-owned or women-owned businesses. Anthem Excavation is a women-owned business but is currently not certified by the state. According to village officials, Anthem Excavation has submitted all required paperwork and anticipates receiving state certification in time to meet the proposed schedule.

The Illinois State Historic Preservation Office has determined that the LCFS building is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Although that determination does not prohibit demolition, officials are required to complete a Historic Illinois Building survey and make efforts to salvage certain features of the property. Officials said a consultant they hired has submitted a draft survey and they anticipate receiving permission to demolish the building. Features that will be preserved are stained glass and some brickwork.

At the time the TIF District was created, officials estimated it could generate $25 million over its 23-year lifetime. TIF funds may be used for a variety of projects, from property acquisition to public infrastructure improvements to incentives for developers to bring in new businesses.

The equalized assessed value (EAV) of all properties within the TIF District are “frozen” during the entire life of the district. Any taxes collected with incremental increases in those property values would be placed into the TIF fund, while all taxing bodies would continue to receive their share of the base EAV of those properties.

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