By Nona Tepper
A majority of members of the River Forest trustees voted to cover the partial buildout expenses for a business relocating to Madison Street at a village board meeting on Oct. 1, after developer Lake and Lathrop LLC purchased and made plans to demolish its present location.
The village board voted 4-2 to pay a total of $36,250 in three installments to facilitate The Skincare Company's move from 7607 Lake St. to 7756 Madison St., where it will occupy three suites. The village will use funds from the Madison Street tax-increment financing (TIF) district.
Since the Madison Street TIF has not generated enough funds to cover the move, officials said on Aug. 20 that money will be transferred from the village's general fund or capital improvement fund into the TIF fund and repaid at a later date.
"We're always looking for renters like [Skincare Company owner] Sandra [Capizzi] and investing in folks like you," said Village President Cathy Adduci. "This is what I think the TIF was all about, to help businesses like you."
In a village memo, officials estimated the village would recoup its investment in five years. The memo said Skincare Company will eliminate half of the vacancies in the strip mall, increase real estate tax revenue by $16,000 annually and generate $1,500 in sales tax revenue to the village per year.
The village will pay Skincare Company the money in three installments to limit the amount of money the village will need to transfer to the TIF fund. If for some reason Skincare Company goes of business, the village would also not need to pay the rest of the cash.
The business will receive its first payment of $16,250 when it receives its certificate of occupancy, and next two on the first and second anniversary of the first payment.
"I struggle with this one because I do still feel like this should have been on the developer, but I absolutely want to support a River Forest business owner, and I absolutely think that's why we have the TIF funds, to put property on Madison," said Trustee Patty Henek, who later voted against paying for Skincare Company to move.
The village board approved developer Lake and Lathrop LLC's plans to build a five-story mixed use building where Skincare Company currently sits, 7607 Lake St., on Sept. 17. Trustees added as a condition of approval that the developer must work with the village to help move businesses interested in staying in River Forest elsewhere in the village.
Adduci noted that Skincare Company will be leaving its current location by October and that the business and developer have "already negotiated whatever they need to negotiate."
"I think we'll do whatever we can to help our small businesses," Adduci said. "This has nothing to do with Lake and Lathrop. This has everything to do with you."
Village Administrator Eric Palm said this is the first redevelopment request the village has received for its current TIF districts.
"This request will be the first and certainly not the last of various projects for redevelopment and rehabilitation for the Madison and North Avenue TIF districts," he said.
Palm said he's had conversations with the remaining tenants in the Lake and Lathrop site -- Allstate and In & Out Fitness -- and knows the owners are looking for a new space but is unsure if they found one.
Trustees Michael Gibbs, Carmela Corsini, Susan Conti and Adduci all voted in favor of using TIF funds to help Skincare Company move within the village. Trustees Henek and Tom Cargie voted against using village funds. At a prior village board discussion on the topic, Cargie said he saw the payout as another subsidy for Lake and Lathrop LLC.
Trustee Respicio Vazquez recused himself from the vote, citing a "common law conflict of interest," since he works for the law firm that represents River Forest School District 90 and Oak Park and River Forest School District 200, which are part of the TIF district.
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