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On Sunday, September 18th from 2 PM - 3 PM, stop by the River Forest Public Library for an exciting presentation by Al Popowits, a commissioner on the River Forest Historical Preservation Commission, as he gives a lecture on twelve historically and architecturally significant structures in River Forest. Some of the buildings highlighted: the Winslow House (1893), the Tennis Club (1905), and the First Presbyterian Church (1925). Fall in love with the architectural gems located right here in your own community! Snacks will be served.

Please view an informational flyer or visit the library website for more information. 

                                                                        Friday, August 05, 2016

Why Economic Development Matters  

Dear Residents:

Recent discussions on the proposed Madison Street Tax Increment Finance district (TIF) have generated a variety of discussions. One subject that seems to come up more than most is what kind of businesses we can expect to see. Will we get a restaurant? Will we get another type of store? While it is not uncommon to want specific businesses, the Village cannot dictate what the market will bear. However, we can influence the creation of desirable locations that will attract the types of businesses that are both desirable and consistent with the character and quality of River Forest.

The Village needs to look at economic development in a broader context. The River Forest Board of Trustees and I believe that strengthening our commercial base is vital to strengthening our community. That means we have to increase the value of our commercial properties to lessen the property tax burden on our residents.

To explain what I mean here, let’s talk about the property tax system in Illinois.

Each tax bill in River Forest includes nine separate entities that levy taxes to fund operations and meet their obligations including salaries and benefits, such as health insurance and pensions, maintenance of equipment and property, plus a myriad of programs and services each unit of government offers to our community.

Think of all property tax revenue collected from River Forest properties as a pie. Each year, taxing bodies ask for a piece of that pie to fund their services and obligations. The value of each property determines each owner’s “share” of the pie, or what you, the property owner, will pay to support public programs and services whether you use them or not. In towns with strong commercial property bases, residential properties pay lower taxes, not because the government is asking for less money but because the commercial properties pick up a greater share of the tax. In primarily residential communities such as ours, homeowners shoulder a larger share of the property tax burden because they make up the majority of the property tax base.

A little more than 50 percent of properties in River Forest cannot be taxed. It is land owned by nonprofit organizations including two universities, the Cook County Forest Preserve District, religious institutions, schools, the library and the Community Center, which all provide valuable services to River Forest. In our community, less than half of all property can be taxed. Out of that taxable property, approximately 90 percent is residential and 10 percent is commercial. As a result, residential properties pay a majority of the taxes in River Forest.

It is important to understand how your taxes are calculated and how that relates to the importance of economic development. Every three years, the Cook County Assessor’s Office determines the value of every parcel of land. The calculation to determine your property taxes is an overly complicated one, but for this discussion, it is important to know a residential parcel is taxed at 10 percent of its market value. 

For example, if a home is worth $500,000, the taxes paid are based off of a value of $50,000 ($500,000 X 10% = $50,000). In the case of a commercial property, the property is taxed at 25 percent of the market value. A commercial property worth $500,000 has its taxes based off a value of a $125,000 ($500,000 X 25% = $125,000). A commercial property will pay 15 percent more in taxes than a residential property with the same exact value. The property taxes paid by commercial properties are based off of a higher percentage of their market value than residential properties.

River Forest is a landlocked community with very few opportunities to create new commercial development, so we must do what we can to get the highest and best use out of each commercial property. The strategic decision River Forest made in 1987 to create a TIF District along Lake Street was monumental. Because of that TIF, commercial land at Harlem Avenue and Lake Street now produces significantly more in property tax revenue than it did 30 years ago. If that development did not exist River Forest homeowners - you and I - would pay more in taxes today than we already do. That is the definition of the “zero sum game”...taxes are collected regardless of who pays.

Therefore, the Village must now focus on strengthening its commercial base. We must commit to creating TIF districts along Madison and North Avenue (while restricting eminent domain), and work with businesses along Harlem Avenue. TIF districts will help shift the tax burden away from homeowners, allowing our neighbors, especially seniors on a fixed income, to remain here in River Forest. It is the right thing to do.

Thank you for reading this letter and please feel free to call me personally at (312) 498-7767, should you have any questions.

Best,

Cathy Adduci
Village President

 

                                                                                                                      

February 2, 2017 -

Structural repairs were completed by the property owner in mid-January and the property was turned over to the tenant, Fresh Thyme, to complete the interior and exterior work. It is anticipated that this work will take several months and that Fresh Thyme will open in late summer, 2017.  

October 7, 2016 -

Work is underway on site and the contractor will be installing a fence around certain construction areas to ensure public safety.  These fences may impede use of the sidewalks on the east and north sides of the building and may impede some traffic flow in the 1500 block of Monroe.  We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your cooperation.  Any obstructions will be removed as soon as it is safe to do so.  

September 16, 2016 -

This week, the Village of River Forest issued a building permit for structural repair work at the former Dominick’s building located at 7501 W. North Avenue.  The building will be undergoing major renovations in the upcoming weeks and months in order to open its doors to the public in 2017. Repairs include foundation modifications along the north and east sides of the building, reconstruction of the east and south walls of the building, removal and replacement of existing steel framing on the west side of the building and strengthening of the north wall of the building.  Repairs to the existing bowstring roof trusses as well as the roof stringers along the south side of the building will also be performed.  Additional repairs and modifications to the second floor framing and flooring along the south and east sides of the building will be implemented.  Architectural, mechanical and electrical improvements will also be performed.  

History of the project-

In the fall of 2015, the Village approved plans to begin construction of a Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market grocery store at the old Dominick’s site on North Avenue. This project has been delayed due to unforeseen structural issues on the property. In order to remedy these issues, Fresh Thyme has turned the site back over to the property agent, Mid-America Asset Management. At this time, Mid-America is working closely with Village staff to complete the necessary repairs in a timely manner. The Village has also filed a suit in the circuit court to ensure the work is completed.
On July 12 a court order was entered that establishes deadlines for the completion of the work. Based on this court order, the repairs will be completed on or before December 31, 2016. A court hearing will be conducted in mid-August to update the judge on the status of the project.

Once the structural repairs are completed the store will be turned over to Fresh Thyme to complete the remaining work. It is anticipated that some exterior work will be completed before the winter to improve the appearance of the site. It is also anticipated that Fresh Thyme would be able to complete the remaining work in the third quarter of 2017.

The Village will continue to take measures to guarantee that this work will be completed in a safe and proper fashion. As always, the Village will strive to ensure that all work is done in a manner that is least disruptive to the community. All parties involved with this project are looking forward to making great progress in the coming months and to establish an estimated opening date for Fresh Thyme.

 

On July 12, 2016, the Village Board voted to suspend the electrical aggregation program once the existing contract with MC Squared expires in September 2016.  At that time, customers will be returned to ComEd for their electrical supply.  There is nothing you need to do to make the transition. In the coming weeks you will be receiving information in the US mail about the change.

All current accounts with MC Squared will be closed on August 12, 2016. ComEd will be sending a letter to customers a few days after the MC Squared accounts are dropped.

MC Squared will be reaching out to customers before the accounts are closed.  In some cases, MC Squared may be able to offer a rate of 5.99 cents/kWh on eligible accounts.  To learn more, including a custom quote, contact MC Squared at 1-855-259-1179, or on via their website at: http://www.mc2energyservices.com/

 

Public notice is hereby given that on Tuesday, July 12, 2016, at 7:00p.m. in the First Floor Community Room of the River Forest Village Hall, 400 Park Ave., River Forest, Illinois, the Village of River Forest Board of Trustees will consider approval of the following Planned Development Application:

Application# 16-01: Application for Amendment to Planned Development. The Applicant proposes to construct a residence hall on the east side of the campus, approximately the southwest corner of Bonnie Brae Place and Thomas.

The Development Review Board (DRB) held Public Hearings on this matter on June 2, 2016, and continued to June 23, 2016. By a vote of 7-0 at the June 23, 2016, continued meeting, the DRB recommended approval of the application as amended and supplemented at the meeting.  

The approval included approval of the University's request for a Site Development Allowance in building height to 64 feet to accommodate roof top elevator and HV AC equipment. The approval at the June 23, 2016, meeting included the following conditions: 

1. Any limits on parking on Bonnie Brae Place during construction of the New Building approved by the Village shall be limited to hours of construction of the New Building. The Village shall allow parking on Bonnie Brae Place to the greatest extent possible before and after the hours of construction of the New Building, such as before 6:00 AM and after 5:00PM, and on weekends, when no construction shall occur.
2. Flaggers shall be used to direct trucks entering and exiting the construction zone.
3. Trucks shall exit the construction zone and travel to Harlem Avenue in a manner directed by the Village in consultation with the Petitioner if complaints are made regarding truck traffic.
4. The third, fourth, and fifth floors of the New Building shall be kept in a secure and safe condition, as directed by the Village, until such time as each of those floors are completed with all finishes, fixtures, and appliances and receive a certificate of occupancy from the Village.
5. Petitioner shall comply with the landscaping requirements of Section 10-24 of the Zoning Ordinance.

The public is welcome to attend the July 12, 2016, Village Board meeting and will be provided an opportunity to address the Village Board regarding the proposed project. A copy of the application and of the Development Review Board Findings of Fact can be found on the Village website at: www.vrf.us. Any questions regarding Application #16-01 or the planned development process can be directed to:

Lisa Scheiner
Assistant Village Administrator
lscheiner@vrf. us
(708) 714-3554.

If you cannot attend the Village Board meeting but would like to provide comments to the Village Board, you may submit comments in writing, via letter or email, no later than Wednesday, July 6, 2016.

Concordia University Chicago
Glen Steiner
Assistant Vice President, Administration
Concordia University Chicago

 

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