Incentives OK'd for 95th Street
The (Chicago) Daily Southtown, 9/15/04

Developers will get up to $6.4 million to buy land

By Daniel Duggan

Developers of a retail and housing project on 95th Street in Oak Lawn will get up to $6.4 million in incentives from the village under an agreement approved Tuesday.
The money from the village will go toward the estimated $9.4 million it will cost to buy and relocate the existing businesses on 95th Street from just east of Cook Avenue to 53rd Avenue.

The proposed development will bring 132 condominiums, a 60-unit senior housing complex and 10,000 square feet of retail space to the area.

The three buildings will be built around a courtyard that will replace what is currently Cook Avenue.

"This is important to the revitalization and redevelopment of this segment of 95th Street," acting Mayor Ron Stancik said.

The developers of the project, Morningside Group and Mid-America Investment and Development, are close to finalizing real estate deals on the property, said Mike Nortman, a vice president with Mid-America.

He said agreements are in the works with all of the businesses, though a final price has not been set on two properties. Nortman declined to name the businesses.

"I can say price is the only issue with those two," he said Tuesday.

Of the money spent to buy the land, the developers will be reimbursed roughly 75 percent of the cost, up to $6.4 million, according to the agreement.

If the cost of buying and demolishing the property goes over the total budget of $9.4 million, the developers and the village will negotiate how to split the cost differences.

Under the agreement the developers can ask the village to use its powers of eminent domain to help secure property deals. The village passed an ordinance in January in which it agreed to use eminent domain only if the developers can acquire 75 percent of the property on their own.

The village will repay the developers with money available under a tax increment financing district created in 1998. The village will sell bonds for the money, then pay them back with the extra tax money generated by the development.

After the bonds are paid off, the additional tax revenue will be available to other taxing bodies, such as schools and park districts.

A similar TIF district plan is in place to the west where a Metra station, 84-unit condominium complex, five-story parking deck and children's museum is proposed for the area between the railroad tracks and 96th Street, bounded to the east by 51st Avenue and the west by Tulley Avenue.

In that project, the village board approved an $8 million bond sale during Tuesday's meeting to pay for the construction of the project.

Those bonds will be paid back with a combination of the increased revenue on the property and the revenue generated by the parking deck.

On both of the incentives for the 95th Street development and the bond issuance, Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) cast the lone dissenting vote.

"I have been on record of opposing the dense urbanization taking place here," he said.

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