Written by Kevin M. Coyne
Chicago Ridge trustees on Tuesday voted to enter into negotiations with a company that village officials are hopeful will redevelop the abandoned trucking terminal at 103rd Street and Harlem Avenue.
The resolution of inducement is to show Weston Solutions that the village is looking to redevelop the site, and that the redevelopment is mutually beneficial to both the developer and the village, according to Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar.
The village is planning to create a tax increment financing (TIF) district that would include the trucking terminal, and would sell bonds to finance the redevelopment of the site where Yellow Trucking operated for many years. Redevelopment plans are still in the preliminary stages the board continues to seek bond council and assess the property value.
Tokar believes now is an auspicious time to create a TIF district that includes the trucking terminal property. He recalled the past two TIF district redevelopments in Chicago Ridge, saying each redevelopment paid back the debt before the 23 years allotted by Illinois TIF law.
Trustee Mike Davies challenged the decision to hire bond counsel and underwriting firm Shanahan and Shanahan of Chicago, noting the village did not seek bids from other bond counsel firms.
“Once we get to the actual creation of the TIF that’s when it would be appropriate to commit to a particular bond counsel. This is just a carrot to induce development,” Davies argued. ”I don’t think we need to commit to any particular bond counsel at this point.”
Village attorney George Witous disagreed with Davies.
“It is going to be necessary to be consulting bond counsel in relation to activities associated with this development and bond counsel is needed right now insofar as to finance the project the issuance of bonds is the crux of the project,” Witous said. “I have worked with this individual bond counsel and he has been trustworthy, reliable, knowledgeable and capable of dealing with the issues. My recommendation would be for the employment of this individual firm only because I know his work and I am well-satisfied with it and in relation to his fee structure he is well below the mean or median average of other bond counsel.”
In response to Witous’ recommendation, Davies said it would be nice to compare firms’ fees. The board has not had an opportunity to review anything, Davies said, adding that he believes it is the village’s fiduciary duty to review what could be a large contract.
“Mr. Shanahan has done good work for the village in the past that doesn’t obligate us to use Mr. Shanahan for this development,” Tokar added. “It’s not a decision that we have to make right now and I don’t want to have to make decisions until we have to make decisions.”