School board fighting TIF for big Lisle project

Jan 6, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Suburban school districts are becoming increasingly vocal on municipal development issues, with the latest skirmish shaping up in Lisle, where school officials are fighting a plan to divert tax revenues to a downtown redevelopment project.

Village officials have assembled nearly four prime blocks in downtown Lisle for redevelopment. But they figure that it will require the enactment of a tax- increment financing (TIF) district, which would reserve future tax increases in the area for local improvements, to get builders interested.

Officials estimate the TIF district will generate $15 million in additional tax revenues over its 23-year life.

But none of that will go to Lisle Community Unit School District 202, which currently collects more than 60% of local tax receipts. In fact, the district will forgo increases it stood to collect as a result of any appreciation in the value of properties in the TIF area.

“We stand to lose a lot of money on this TIF,” says school board President Stephen Pawlowicz. “Our seven-member board is unanimously opposed to a TIF downtown, and we plan to turn up the heat on this.”

Village President Joseph Broda responds that “without redevelopment, the downtown will decline and the assessed value of property in this area will decrease.”

The Village Board expects to vote on the issue by March. But Mr. Broda, who envisions a combination of stores, offices and condominiums rising on the site, is already marshaling support for a TIF.

“Developers are telling us that if a TIF is in place, they can make it work,” Mr. Broda says. “The site will require teardowns of existing buildings and the addition of new infrastructure. A TIF would take some of that investment burden off of the developer.”

McWilliams & Associates Inc. of Lisle, which recently built the downtown Lisle Town Centre, with 21,000 square feet of retail space and 59 condos, without TIF assistance, says it might be willing to take on the new project without any municipal subsidies. President Thomas McWilliams envisions a 10-story building with 90,000 square feet of stores and offices and 70 luxury condos. Its total construction value: $40 million.

Says Mr. McWilliams: “I could probably do it without a TIF if the village would work together with me.”