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May Expand Two TIF Districts

Raise Ideas for Triangle Area and 111th and Cicero in Oak Lawn

Two brief public hearings held Tuesday afternoon in the Oak Lawn Village Hall addressed plans to expand two tax increment financing districts in the village.

Village Attorney Vincent Cainkar and Brian Hanigan, director of finance and administrative services, led the first meeting at 3 p.m., which focused on the Triangle TIF centered on 95th Street.

As they explained, the village is going ahead with plans to expand the TIF, which is located roughly between Cook and 53rd Avenues along 95th Street, and extends south to the Metra railroad tracks.

The plan, which has been discussed at Village Board meetings earlier this year, is to enlarge the district slightly by taking a piece of vacant property on 95th and Raymond Avenue, just south of the Village Hall.

Plans call for the property to be redeveloped into a bank, with space for a new and improved senior center and other facilities.

ÒThe next step is to get a developer involved,” said Hanigan.

The second hearing, at 4:15 p.m., was on the 111th and Cicero TIF District.

Village Manager Larry Deetjen said at that meeting that the village plans to expand that 40-acre property as well too, to incorporate the former Edgar Funeral Home property at 10900 S. Cicero Ave. into the TIF district.

The former funeral home was bought by the village several years ago and is now leased to Midwest Orthopedic Consultants, a medical group.

Deetjen explained that Midwest Orthopedic has been given a one-year lease, and some of the doctors involved are looking to expand.

ÒThey have been a good tenant. It was always intended to be a short-term lease, but whether or not they say would not affect the TIF expansion,” said Deetjen. He said that one of the doctors is already planning to move to an expanded facility on 95th Street.

Oak Lawn officials are planning to redevelop the 111th and Cicero TIF into an upscale shopping development, and incorporating the property at 10900 S. Cicero would give it 300 more feet of frontage on Cicero Avenue.

A Kmart store, which used to anchor the property, closed and the building is currently being demolished.

Deetjen said that plans call for the property Ñwhich is now mainly a parking lot almost adjacent to the Wolfe Wildlife Refuge, Park District property at 109th and Laramie Avenue Ñ to include Òextensive landscaping and some water features, and some shops.”

He said there would be Òsufficient parking, but less asphalt than there is now.”

Cainkar noted that the property in question encompasses about an acre, and is already owned by the village and is tax-exempt, so no tax revenue will be lost by adding it to the TIF district.

Dave Novak, a Palos Heights resident, raised a question about the future of Automotion, a conveyor-manufacturing facility at 11000 S. Lavergne Avenue, on the western edge of the TIF district. He said his wife is among the more than 200 people employed there, and the talk about TIF district expansion has many people worried about the future of their company.

ÒI’m a big supporter of manufacturing and we are phasing in the construction. The first phase will only go to Lavergne, and we are not going to 109th Street,” said Deetjen. Ò(Automotion) is certainly a valued taxpayer, and they have some unique needs.”

Regarding the Wolfe Wildlife Center, the officials said the eventual plan is to link it together with similar land in neighboring Alsip, perhaps by going through St. Casimir Cemetery.

Novak said afterward that he was somewhat reassured that the expansion would not include the Automotion property.

ÒI kept asking my wife, are you in it, or out of (the TIF)? No one knew.” He said the uncertainty of the situation affects the company and the employees, because needed improvements may be delayed because it was unclear if the village is eyeing the property for expansion.

ÒIt’s an ideal location, close enough to Midway Airport and the expressways, and if that company has to move, it would affect a lot of people, and surrounding restaurants and other businesses too.”

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