It’s been a rocky year so far for sure, but the Village is doing everything we can to help Tinley Park recover and move forward into better days.
One such plan is already in the works. At its June 9 meeting, the Village Board passed an ordinance that will begin the process of creating a new Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District for the 159th Street and Harlem Avenue corridor. The TIF will help us fill commercial vacancies in that area, spur development and give our local economy a much-needed shot in the arm.
If you’re wondering just what exactly TIFs are, it’s pretty simple – communities can use them to develop areas in need of a bit of help. Property tax revenues for taxing bodies within the TIF district are frozen at whatever rate they were at when the TIF was created, and increases in that revenue over the course of 23 years (the standard life of a TIF) are used for public improvements or to incentivize potential developers. It’s self-funding and helps affected areas become financially viable once again.
The proposed 159th Street and Harlem Avenue TIF District covers an area that is of particular importance, as it contains scores of businesses that together comprise a commercial “front door” to our community. Vacancies in this area have increased dramatically, which translates into less traffic and less sales tax. Every vacancy increases the number of visibly empty storefronts, which in turn compromises the aesthetics of the entire area. Through time, the location becomes less and less of a prime destination for customers, and since the area is the first thing many people see as they enter our town, this creates a ripple effect that negatively impacts the rest of the businesses in Tinley Park.
The proposed TIF District would enable us to make the significant reinvestment needed to attract the type of commercial anchors that would better meet the needs of the Tinley Park community, transform this property into a premier local destination, and revitalize the local economy through job creation. It’s also a chance to reimagine what business in Tinley Park can look like moving forward. Everyone is well aware of the fact that more people are shopping online instead of going to brick-and-mortar stores, resulting in retail being down across the board. That is unlikely to change anytime soon, so we’ll have to get creative, and the 159th Street and Harlem Avenue corridor gives us such an opportunity.
Ultimately, the proposed TIF is a preventative measure to ensure this decline doesn’t continue. Something needs to be done to stem the bleeding, and TIFs are one of the few tools municipalities have in their medicine cabinet to do the job. To be blunt, this is what it takes to attract development when you have the extraordinary costs that come with doing business in south suburban Cook County. Quality developers aren’t going to come without assistance, and this TIF will provide just that and offer a unique opportunity to bring first-class developments to our community.
The next steps will include a Joint Review Board meeting at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 14 in which taxing bodies can provide input and review the plan in greater detail. After that, the TIF will move to a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4. There, residents will be able to weigh in on the plan and get more information.
The Eligibility Report and Redevelopment Plan and Project documents for the proposed TIF are available for review
on the Village website
. I’ll keep you updated on the process as it moves along.
Until we talk again, I wish you and yours a great summer.