Lincolwood Village Board of Trustees meeting continued to March 4
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
The Lincolnwood Village Board of Trustees at its meeting Jan. 19 again continued to March 4 a hearing on the proposed Devon-Lincoln Tax Increment Financing District and the designation of a redevelopment area.
The trustees decided at the Nov. 19 village board meeting to review the results of a study conducted by the Urban Land Institute Chicago of the Devon Avenue corridor between McCormick Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue. The organization evaluated the redevelopment potential of the corridor and made recommendations that the trustees reviewed.
As a part of the process for creating a TIF district, a joint review board was formed consisting of the taxing bodies that overlap the district, including Lincolnwood School District 74, Niles Township High School District 219, Oakton Community College, Niles Township, Cook County, the Lincolnwood Library District and the village. The review board voted 6-0 against creating the TIF district last February, with District 74 and the library district expressing concern that a new TIF district would fail to increase the tax base.
Village community development director Timothy Clarke said that the purpose of the district is to attract businesses to the area. Clarke said that potential developers count on tax increment incentives to subsidize projects and that the institute recommended the TIF district as a viable option for development of the area.
The district would encompass the "Proesel Triangle" commercial area bounded by Lincoln Avenue, Proesel Avenue and Devon Avenue, as well as a portion of Devon Avenue east of Lincoln. It would contain 113 parcels, and it would be the fourth TIF district in the village, joining the Lincoln-Touhy, Northeast Industrial and Touhy-Lawndale districts.
Village manager Timothy Wiberg said that the proposed district has large properties that have diminished in value and that it makes sense for a developer to refurbish a building through the use of TIF district funds and other incentives such as tax breaks.
Trustees Lawrence Elster, Ronald Cope and Rene Sprogis-Marohn said that they want to see a specific plan about what improvements would be made in the Devon corridor before making a decision. Cope said that he is opposed to "skeletal TIF’s" and that the recommendations by the institute were very broad and offered no plan or vision.
"Their study was not an in-depth study," Cope said. "It was a quick once-over. What’s lacking here is more than a general idea about the possibility that some day someone will come along and build something."
Cope said that he understands the need for a tax increment district around the former Purple Hotel site because it is attached to a large development. "Here we are creating a skeleton-type TIF," he said.
The institute recommended that the village focus on redeveloping the northwest corner of Devon and McCormick, the Whistler’s Family Restaurant site, the northwest corner of Lincoln and Devon and a vacant lot on Drake Avenue.
The institute also recommended that the village focus on attracting service businesses such as dentists, physical therapists and real estate offices rather than traditional retail businesses, consider senior living uses and collaborate with the City on Chicago on the use of an old theater site in the 50th Ward.
The institute also recommended that the village improve pedestrian safety through the use of refuge islands in street medians, add a crosswalk near Devon and Kimball avenues, install bump-outs at street intersections and install sidewalks where none exist.
The village also should create bike lanes and medians, improve parking options, create gateways, install public art at Devon and McCormick to link with existing art in Centennial Park, and implement a streetscaping project, according to the study.
Trustee Jesal Patel disagreed with Cope and said that the idea of having a large development attached to a district is misguided. Patel said that the purpose of the district is to create "a groundswell" so that businesses are ready to come in.
Sprogis-Marohn said that the reason that the board cannot come to a consensus on the proposal is because of a lack of vision or a concrete plan. "Part of the problem of finding a consensus is there’s not a physical plan for people to get behind," she said. "There needs to be a clear identification of specific areas and a real vision before we can come to a consensus."
"We need to know that if we put the TIF in place, this is what’s going to happen," Elster said. "I just don’t know if the TIF will bring in development," he said.
Also at the meeting, the board rejected a recommendation by the Zoning Board of Appeals to grant a sign setback variation from the required 10 feet to 3 feet for the Devon McCormick Currency Exchange, 3310 W. Devon Ave.
At the Dec. 18 meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals, owner Barry Shack said that he wished to place the monument sign at the corner of the property because the village required the removal of a pole sign there. The zoning board recommended on a 4-1 vote that the setback variation be granted on the condition that Shack remove two existing signs, but the village board denied the request because the owner did not agree to the conditions.