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Oak Lawn’s Stony Creek Promenade praised

Following the Aug. 7 sale of the first phase of the Stony Creek Promenade property at 111th and Cicero Avenue, Special Counsel Matt Welch presented an optimistic overview of the financial windfall that the TIF zone will eventually bring into the village.

Welch noted that $6,643,517, the final sale price for the completed 14.5 acre first phase of the redevelopment project Ñ including Mariano’s grocery store, Coopers Hawk restaurant, and several other businesses Ñ was a bit more than the village expected when the sale to the Multi-Employer Property Trust was agreed upon last year. The projected price had been $6,607,964, but Welch said the slightly higher price was due to higher than expected rental income from tenants on the site.

As he explained at the meeting, most of the money the village received for the sale will go toward paying down the $24,572,788 loan for Fifth Third Bank the village received to fund the redevelopment of the TIF zone established in 2006. A portion of the money, $957,676, will be allocated to the water and sewer fund, which was used to install drainage and other infrastructure on the property.{{more}}

Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) was the only trustee to vote against approving the sale agreement, in 2014 and again this week, contending that the sale price was too low considering the nearly $25 million loan owed by the village. But Welch pointed out that with the first phase complete, work is continuing on the rest of the Stony Creek property, which includes three more parcels to be developed and sold in the next few years. These include the vacant area on the west side of the property, referred to as Phase 2, as well as the former Edgar Funeral Home site on the north side of the property at 109th and Cicero, as well as a third piece referred to as the Òbank pad” where a bank was to be built.

According to village documents, revenue generated by the sale of those properties is expected to bring the loan debt down to roughly $12 million. If all the sales and property tax revenue generated in the district went toward paying down the loan, village estimates predict it could be paid off several years before the 23-year life of the TIF zone runs out in 15 years.

Oak Lawn Finance Director Brian Hanigan said at the meeting that while final figures are not available, Phase 1 is expected to generate $1.3 million in sales and property tax revenue this year. In the coming years, annual sales and property taxes for the entire site are estimated to be $2 million, according to village data.

ÒIf the debt is paid off before the TIF expires, the board can decide whether to close out the TIF and divide the remaining funds among the taxing bodies,” said Welch.

ÒSo once the TIF is retired, all that revenue generated for the village can go toward things like streets and pensions,” Desmond noted. Both he and Trustee Mike Carberry (6th) stressed the value of the Stony Creek development to the village, agreeing that the sale of Phase 1 was a good deal for Oak Lawn.

ÒIt sounds to me like it is a very successful TIF,” commented Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th) after Welch’s presentation.

ÒI don’t think that it can be denied that (Phase 1) has become an anchor of the community,” said Welch, asserting that it is a big improvement over the commercial site it replaced, which had been blighted and prone to vacancies.

But Streit was not swayed in his opposition to the deal the village got, although he didn’t make any comments about the sale during the meeting. ÒWhat can I say that I have not already said,” he noted afterward. ÒFifteen years is a long time (to generate the revenue to pay off the debt). And that is optimistic. None of us will be here, on the board anyway,” he said.

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