After nearly a decade of stagnant growth, Brookfield’s tax increment financing (TIF) districts look like they’re about to start generating the kind of revenue local officials envisioned in creating them.

Tax increment financing districts are used to revitalize areas that have experienced long-term obstacles to economic redevelopment. For a period of 23 years, property tax assessments are frozen and any revenue resulting from increased assessments that come through redevelopment are sheltered in a special TIF fund.

Those funds can be used for purposes related to redevelopment within the TIF, from property acquisition to infrastructure improvements to incentives for developers.

Brookfield has three TIF districts. The oldest is the Ogden Avenue TIF which includes the vast majority of the commercial properties lining Ogden Avenue from Custer Avenue to Eberly Avenue. It was created in 2008. 

That was followed in 2011 with the Congress Park TIF, which sits immediately north of Ogden Avenue and includes the property on DuBois Boulevard that used to be home to the Brookfield Moose. The land presently serves as a commuter parking lot, though it has been the subject of redevelopment talks in recent years.

In late 2016, the village created the 8 Corners TIF, which includes the commercial properties in and around the Memorial Circle.

During the first two years of the Ogden Avenue TIF’s existence, it generated about $437,000 of increment – money which allowed the village to buy the land that became the Congress Park TIF as well as another parcel of land in the 9500 block of Ogden Avenue.

But in the years following 2009, the Ogden Avenue TIF – like most TIFs across Cook County – tanked.

Between 2010 and 2015, the Ogden Avenue generated just $84,220 in revenue. In three of those six years, the TIF generated no revenue at all.

The Congress Park TIF, meanwhile, has generated no revenue at all since it is village-owned and is not taxed.

But 2016 and 2017 saw new life for the Ogden Avenue TIF, with revenues of $53,984 and $49,395, respectively, in those years. Those are the highest annual revenue totals since 2010.

 While the revenue isn’t exactly startling, it does reflect a change in the fortunes of commercial properties, said Nicholas Greifer, the village’s community and economic development director.

“We’re in catch-up mode,” said Greifer. “I think on Ogden we’re starting to reduce the tide.”

One factor in the reversal of TIF revenue fortunes beginning in 2016 is that the village also saw its first village-wide growth in equalized assessed value since assessments began plummeting in 2010 in the wake of the real estate crash.

Between 2010 and 2015, Brookfield’s village-wide EAV fell 32 percent from $485.3 million to $331 million.

But in both 2016 and 2017, Brookfield saw EAV begin to creep up again. In 2016, EAV increased by almost 5 percent, and in 2017, it jumped 18 percent, outperforming south suburban Cook County as a whole.

“I think it reflects a positive real estate investment climate here,” said Greifer, who also pointed at a July 19 report by Crain’s Chicago Business listing Brookfield as one of the hottest markets for homebuyers seeking middle-range prices.

The news was even better for the 8 Corners TIF, which was created just as real estate assessments were catching up with the rest of the economy.

In 2016, the 8 Corners TIF generated $26,557 in revenue, according to the latest suburban TIF report from the Cook County Clerk’s Office. But, in 2017, the TIF generated $232,273 in revenue, an increase of almost 675 percent.

According to Greifer, the 8 Corners TIF benefited from the timing of its creation as well as some reinvestment in properties there in recent years.

The performance of the 8 Corners TIF compared to Ogden Avenue partially is a result, Greifer said, of the way assessments are recorded in Cook County. 

While there have been pockets of reinvestment on Ogden Avenue – Dunkin Donuts, Advanced Auto Parts and Sherwin Williams, for example – underperforming properties such as motels and vacancies such as Brookfield Restaurant and other spots, counteracts the positive growth.

But even the modest revenue generated for the TIF on Ogden Avenue is welcome.

“The bottom line is we had a steady decline in EAV and last year we stopped the bleeding so to speak and saw our first increase in quite some time,” Greifer said. “This year we’re hoping for another increase, and the increase we got was surprising, in a good way.”