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Donalynne Schaffer of the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force speaks at the Jan. 21 RAGE meeting. Much of the evening was devoted to the Englewood Mall TIF.

Englewood residents want in on area economic development discussions

by Stacia D. Smith
Jan 23, 2014

Englewood residents are looking for more involvement with the latest construction developments coming to their neighborhood.

At the Resident Association of Greater Englewood’s meeting Tuesday, the group’s president, Asiaha Butler, announced a partnership with the law school at DePaul University aimed at helping residents become a prominent voice in their neighborhood’s economic development conversation.

“We want to try to get in front of it before development happens on 63rd and Halsted,” Butler said.

The association announced formation an Urban Agriculture and Community Development Council. Butler told about 40 people gathered that the council will be tasked with talking to developers about how Englewood Mall tax increment financing money will be used in the future.

The TIF still has $3.5 million in unallocated funds, according to Department of Housing and Economic Development spokesman Peter Strazzabosco.

The Englewood Mall TIF district is a 35-acre area along 63rd Street and blocks to the north.
An upscale grocery store, Whole Foods Market, has already been approved as the first building in a 13-acre retail development space at 63rd & Halsted. But there was little input from residents.

According to Butler, $10 million from the Englewood Neighborhood TIF and the Englewood Mall TIF has already been allocated to Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives to clear the land at 63rd & Halsted and prepare it for the retail development.

Butler said although RAGE members have had training on how TIF districts work, they are still “exploring their TIF dollars” and what the money can be used for.

Tax increment financing is a public financing method to encourage economic development in neighborhoods that need it most. Property taxes are frozen, a bond issue floated and bondholders are paid back with the increase in taxes resulting from the rising property values.

According to the city, Englewood Mall TIF funds are targeted for site preparation, utilities and infrastructure work.

“Really what we want to see is what happens when TIF goes right,” Butler said, “and what do we need to do to organize and get some facts about how monies are spent.”

DL3 Realty led by Leon Walker will develop the Whole Foods Market, slated to open in 2016, according to the mayor’s office.