Brookfield’s village board on Thursday voted to move forward with creating a second tax increment financing (TIF) district adjacent to its Ogden Avenue TIF.
During a special meeting of the board of trustees on Oct. 13, the board voted 5-0 (Trustee Cathy Colgrass Edwards was absent) to propose a redevelopment plan for what is being called the Congress Park Area TIF and to convene a meeting of Joint Review Board on Oct. 28. The Joint Review Board includes representatives of all taxing bodies within the boundaries of the TIF district.
The Congress Park TIF District would include the vacant land that once housed the Brookfield Moose lodge and parking lot, along with the public right of way adjacent to the site (DuBois Boulevard) and the portion of Burlington Avenue extending west from the eastern edge of DuBois Boulevard.
TIF districts are tools for municipalities to spur redevelopment of underutilized commercial areas by providing financial incentives to would-be developers. Money to fund those incentives for development is collected in a special TIF fund for use only within the TIF district.
The TIF funds can be used for a variety of purposes, including property acquisition, renovation of existing buildings, public infrastructure improvements and even marketing efforts.
Keith Sbiral, Brookfield’s assistant village manager and the person who is the village’s point person on TIF matters, said there is no development being proposed for the site. The goal is to create a way for the village to have a greater say in how that land is eventually redeveloped.
“We would at least like to have the opportunity [to have more influence], because this is really a key site in the master plan,” Sbiral said. “It’s a key site in general, because the Congress Park train station’s right there [and] there’s only one block between the Congress Park train station and Ogden Avenue.
“It’s an open area, and buildings have been [demolished] in the TIF right there. It’s really setting up to be a huge development site if the economy turns around and things start to work out.”
Kane McKenna was quietly hired in August to complete a TIF eligibility report. On Oct. 10, the Brookfield village board approved paying the firm $2,768 for the work on the project. The matter was not discussed by the village board previous to that date.
In the eligibility report, distributed to village trustees at the Oct. 13 meeting, Kane McKenna concluded that the area qualified for TIF status as a “blighted area.”
By voting to propose the TIF district and convening the Joint Review Board, Brookfield’s village board has set the timeline for the official creation of the TIF. The board on Nov. 28 will hold a public hearing on the proposed TIF and then vote for its creation at a board meeting immediately following that hearing.
Another reason for the compressed timeline, Sbiral said, was to get ahead of any TIF legislation revisions being contemplated by the Illinois General Assembly.
“One of the things [the legislature wants to do] is rewriting TIF legislation,” Sbiral said. “A lot of it has to do with the adjacency to the Ogden Ave TIF. In the past if TIFs were adjacent, you could essentially treat them as one. They are thinking about changing that, and we’d like to get this in under the existing laws.”
The village could have sought an amendment to the Ogden Avenue TIF, to redraw the boundaries to include the new area. However, Sbiral said, that would have triggered going through the entire TIF approval process again.
And since no residential housing units are included in the new TIF area, there’s no need to complete a housing impact study, which invariably makes residents within a TIF nervous.
“It isn’t wise to open TIFs and redraw the boundaries,” Sbiral said. “It simply reopens all the procedures of creating it to the opportunity for a mistake to be made, and to make the original TIF vulnerable to that doesn’t make sense.”