Oak Lawn plans to expand TIF districts

Senior Center would be among casualties of redevelopment

By Laura Bollin

The Oak Lawn Village Board plans to expand two tax increment financing districts, with the hope the larger areas will help capture more property tax revenues.

The board is expected to approve both expansion plans at its Dec. 11 meeting.

The Triangle TIF district, in downtown Oak Lawn along 95th Street between approximately Museum Drive and Cook Avenue, would be expanded west to 52nd Avenue, village attorney Vincent Cainkar said at a public hearing Tuesday. The expansion would include four properties on the north side of 95th Street between 53rd Place on the west and Raymond Avenue on the east. The properties to be included are Oak Lawn Village Hall, the village’s Fire Station No. 3, the Oak Lawn Senior Center, property along the Village Green, and a village-owned building at 5210 W. 95th St. that houses a law firm, accounting firm and health office.

Oak Lawn finance director Brian Hanigan said the plan is to sell part of one tract — which includes Village Hall’s south parking lot and the Oak Lawn Senior Center between Raymond Avenue and 53rd Court — to a bank so that the village can collect taxes on the property. The name of the bank has not been released, Hanigan said.

“The plan is to put the proceeds into enhancing the beauty and size of the Village Green and modernize the senior center,” Hanigan said. “The senior center will be destroyed through the sale, so the taxes will be used to relocate and improve the senior center.”

The Triangle TIF district was created in 1995.

Another TIF district, at 111th Street and Cicero Avenue, was created in 2006 and will also be expanded. At a second public hearing Tuesday, Oak Lawn village manager Larry Deetjen said the 111th and Cicero TIF district may be expanded to include the Edgar Funeral Home property, 10900 Cicero Ave. The village bought the property for $2.5 million, as well as the Mansour Court property for $3 million, in February 2009.

The village has also bought the former Harley-Davidson store, 11040 Cicero Ave., for $3 million in a deal expected to close in January, Hanigan said. The property will be able to help reflect the architecture and design of the TIF district redevelopment, Deetjen said.

The Edgar Funeral Home us currently being leased for $180,000 a year to Midwest Orthopedic Medical, Hanigan said. The medical office has been leasing the building and 1-acre space from the village since 2009, Deetjen said.

Hamilton Partners is the developer of the project, and will be redeveloping 22.3 acres of the 40-acre site. It is too early to tell how much money the village will contribute to the redevelopment, Hanigan said.

The village has approved a $500,000 contract with Environmental Cleansing Corporation, which is tearing down the Dominick’s and Kmart building at 11000 Cicero Avenue. The village purchased the building for $10.9 million. The Kmart, which had been at that location for more than 30 years, closed in May as part of a plan by Sears, which owns Kmart, to close 120 stores nationwide.

Village officials are also discussing the possibility of extending water features into the district, Hanigan said. The hope is that the Wolfe Wildlife Refuge and Stony Creek will feed into the St. Casimir Cemetery property. The creek’s flow was cut off by the Dominick’s/Kmart building and one of the reasons the area has experienced flooding, Hanigan said. It is too early in the process to determine if expanding the refuge and creek is feasible, Hanigan said. The village has met repeatedly with St .Casimir Cemetery officials and hopes to continue a walkway and bicycle path near the cemetery at Alice Avenue and 115th Street.

Redevelopment of the 111th Street and Cicero Avenue TIF district is expected to take about five years, Hanigan said. The boundaries of the 111th and Cicero TIF district are Cicero Avenue to the east, 111th Street to the south and Leamington Avenue to the west. The northern boundary is Wolfe Wildlife Refuge on the west and the Cloister Condominiums on the east.