Lincolnwood Village Board of Trustees meeting Feb. 7
by SEAN KEENEHAN
The Lincolnwood Village Board of Trustees at its meeting Feb. 7 approved an eligibility study for the re-designation of the Lincoln-Touhy redevelopment area but decided not to waive competitive bidding for a consultant for the project.
The Lincoln-Touhy Tax Increment Financing District was created in 2011 as a means of financing redevelopment on the northwest, southwest and southeast corners of Lincoln and Touhy avenues, and it was amended in 2014 to include the former Purple Hotel site.
TIF districts last for 23 years, and the Lincoln-Touhy district has 17 years remaining. The equalized assessed value of the district has declined by 45 percent since 2011, from $10,622,024 to $5,813,709.
The eligibility study is the first step in repealing the existing TIF district and establishing a new one. Under state law, if the eligibility study concludes that the project area qualifies to be re-designated as a new redevelopment area, the existing district will be terminated.
The trustees voted 4-2 in favor of the eligibility study but disagreed about having to pay for the study before there are any developers confirmed in the TIF district. Kane, McKenna and Associates, which has been a consultant for the village on TIF districts, proposed doing the study for $35,000.
Trustee Ronald Cope voted against the eligibility study and said that while he is not against recreating the TIF district and redeveloping the former Purple Hotel site, he is not in favor of the "willy-nilly of doing the TIF over again" and spending money for the study before the site has a developer.
"There is nothing that stops us from creating that TIF at the same time that the developer is processing a plan," Cope said. "I’m more than happy to vote in favor of recreating a TIF on that site, but just to go off and spend the money when we may not have somebody for the next 6 months or year makes no sense to me"
Trustee Barry Bass also voted against the study and said that he does not think that the village needs "to drop the money in advance."
Trustees Craig Klatzco, Jennifer Spino and Lawrence Elster voted in favor of the study.
Klatzco said that the village needs to "spend money to make money" and that the study would send a "positive note" to potential developers. Spino said that it is a good idea to start the eligibility process and that the $35,000 would come back to the village.
Elster said that although the village has worked with the consulting firm of Kane, McKenna and Associates for several years, he is uncomfortable not waiving competitive bidding because the firm’s rate would no longer be set and could increase.
Trustee Jesal Patel, who voted in favor of the study, said that the consulting firm’s price "was what it was," that he is interested in moving the village forward, and that competition could bring the price down.
The board also continued a request made by the Lincolnwood Chamber of Commerce and Industry to install street pole banner signs in the Northeast Industrial District on Pratt Avenue between McCormick Boulevard and Hamlin Avenue. The banners would be installed as part of a pilot program which was adopted by the village in 2015.
The chamber planned to install the banners along Touhy Avenue, which is controlled by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The department denied a request for a permit because the state does not allow advertisements along a state right of way.
Lincolnwood Chamber president Damien Kardaras told the trustees that if the pilot program is successful, the chamber could expand banners into other commercial arteries of the industrial district, including Northeast Parkway, Hamlin Avenue, Morse Avenue and Lawndale Avenue. Kardaras said that the purpose of the program is to provide an opportunity for businesses to advertise, to create a community marker for the commercial district that identifies the boundaries of the village and to raise funds for the chamber.
Each light pole would contain two signs. The chamber will charge businesses an initial fee and an annual renewal fee for each banner and the chamber will be responsible for maintaining the banners.
Some trustees questioned whether banner advertisements would be appropriate along Pratt Avenue.
Cope said that the northeast section of Pratt would be an ideal location for banner signs because the north side of the road contains commercial properties. He said that the south side of Pratt would be an inappropriate location because it contains residential properties.
Patel made a motion to continue the item in order to provide an opportunity for the chamber to evaluate whether the view of the banners on Pratt would be obstructed by tree coverage and to allow the village an opportunity inform residents about the program.
Also at the meeting, the village board approved a payment of $32,625 to the Chicago Metropolitan Fire Prevention Company to reprogram wireless alarms in the village.
The village has 87 wireless fire, burglar and combination alarms on residential and commercial properties that connect to the Lincolnwood Police Department. The alarms have to be reprogrammed to the same frequency as the Village of Skokie so they connect to the Skokie dispatch center under a state law that requires consolidation of dispatch centers.
The village board also approved four resolutions to request $1,125,200 in motor fuel tax funds from the state for general maintenance, infrastructure improvements and local match requirements for a Surface Transportation Program grant.
The village is requesting $800,000 to replace streetlights on Touhy Avenue between Cicero and Hamlin avenues and $279,700 as part of the local match requirement for the grant that the village received to resurface Pratt Avenue between Crawford and Lockwood avenues.
The village also is requesting $38,000 for its portion of traffic signal maintenance fees and $7,500 to evaluate its sidewalk and crosswalk system.
The village board also approved special uses and zoning code variations for the redevelopment of the former Bank of Lincolnwood and Republic Bank property, 4320 W. Touhy Ave., as a new multi-tenant commercial building with a drive-through facility and an off-street parking lot.
The property is in the B-2 General Business District. The lot encompasses approximately 32,787 square feet of land bordered by Touhy Avenue on the south, Kildare Avenue pm the east and Lowell Avenue on the west.
The property has been vacant since 2012, and owner Howard-Kostner Corporation plans to demolish the building and construct a new 6,430-square-foot retail building that will be centered on the lot. The retail building would contain three storefronts, including a Starbucks coffee shop at the west end of the lot with a drive-through to the north.