This, apparently, is the week. On Thursday, March 7, the warehouse retail giant Costco is set to close on the purchase of 16 acres of land near the corner of 26th Street and Harlem Avenue, setting the stage for a new sales tax-minting machine to open in the village by late October.
While we still have concerns about the fact that so little has been done to predict the impact the new development will have on traffic, the sale of the property should be a huge relief to North Riverside residents. It certainly has to be a relief for village officials.
Just a year ago, village officials had very little idea what might happen at that corner and had scant contact at that time with the property owners. It wasn’t until late March 2012 that Costco was officially revealed to be interested in the property and village officials still had not met with the real estate partnership that owned the land about their talks with Costco.
The arrival of Costco comes at a price for taxpayers. On the same day the land is purchased, North Riverside will sell $7 million in debt certificates — $6.8 million of which will go to the partnership that is selling the land to Costco.
That’s a lot of money, and it will come with interest payments that aren’t insignificant. We’ll report on those costs next week. While the sale of debt certificates isn’t technically a tax increase, the debt payments will be funded by sales taxes produced by Costco.
What that means is, for many years to come, sales tax revenues that could go to pay for village services or the village’s ever-ballooning pension obligations will go toward paying off the debt.
Of course, the alternative to Costco is much worse. The village could not have afforded several years of a piece of prime commercial property lying fallow.
The end of the story, by the way, is not yet written over at 26th and Harlem.
While Costco has purchased most of the property from the real estate partnership, it left about 4 acres along Harlem Avenue to be developed. The village must make sure that the resulting developments not only are sales tax producers (a branch bank would be a real shame at that location) but conform to high standards of design.
The fact that the village continues to operate without a full-time building director makes us a bit queasy about that prospect. Hopefully, the resurrection of that corner will help fund that position.
North Riverside, with its host of large commercial structures, and stock of solid but aging homes, needs someone who can deal comprehensively with matters regarding new development, code enforcement and planning.
In the meantime, North Riverside can celebrate the addition of its newest property owner and wish them a long and prosperous life in the village. Everyone is depending on it.