Meijer gives flossmoor _tremendous advantage_ for future retail_ consultant _ hf chronicle

A house at 3752 198th St. in Flossmoor is slated for demolition as part of the village’s efforts to redevelop property that was part of a just-expired tax increment financing district. (Photos by Tom Houlihan/HF Chronicle) Flossmoor officials are preparing to develop village-owned land adjacent to the Meijer superstore currently under construction. With an eye toward future retail development, village board members last week took three steps related to Flossmoor’s property north of Vollmer Road and west of Central Park Avenue. At its Dec. 21 meeting, the board approved a contract with Houseal Lavigne Associates, of Chicago, a consulting firm specializing in municipal economic development. It will provide advisory services aimed at attracting the right developers on the village’s 26 acres next to the Meijer complex.

In addition, board members officially dissolved the village’s tax increment financing district (TIF), which has provided a funding mechanism for retail development in Flossmoor’s southwest corner. The house at 3601 198th St. is slated for demolition. And the board approved a contract for the demolition and removal of four residential structures in the TIF district. Village Manager Bridget Wachtel told board members that other developers are showing interest in Flossmoor as the Meijer store nears the end of construction. The 192,000 square foot store is expected to open in the spring.

“As the conversations have unfolded, staff realizes that we could use some assistance in determining that we are pursuing a development that will be the highest and best use with a site plan that optimizes the property,” Wachtel wrote in a memo to the board. Village staffers interviewed Houseal Lavigne and another economic development consulting firm. Wachtel recommended a contract with Houseal Lavigne. Village board members unanimously voted to go along with her recommendation. Total expenses for the consulting work are expected to cost about $75,000, with that money coming out of the TIF fund. The firm will bill the village for its services.

Houseal Lavigne wll conduct a retail market analysis and develop concept plans that can be used to market directly to developers, brokers and retailers. The firm will also help put together a developer solicitation process that can be used to review and select companies wishing to add retail adjacent to the Meijer complex. Meijer bought the land where the superstore and gas station are under construction. Meijer is expected to develop five additional retail businesses on its property, which the Michigan-based company purchased from Flossmoor.

Dan Gardner, a Houseal Lavigne principal who will work with Flossmoor on the project, appeared at last week’s meeting and was extremely positive about the potential for retail growth on the village’s property. “It’s a great location and there are a lot of good things going on,” Gardner said. “This is an important site for the future of your community.

” Gardner said Meijer opening its store in Flossmoor will act as a catalyst that jump-starts retail development in that corner of the village. The village’s future retail efforts “are starting with a tremendous advantage” because of Meijer, he said. Gardner said he expects it will take about a year to complete the process of finding developers for the village-owned property. He presented a breakdown of all the tasks that Houseal Lavigne will complete, culminating with the developer solicitation process. He expects that the village will ask a number of developers to submit their proposals for possible retail projects. After all those proposals are vetted, it is likely that Flossmoor will select three developers that will go ahead with retail projects.

In dissolving the TIF district last Monday, village board members took an essential final step that notifies Cook County officials that property north of Vollmer and between Central Park and Crawford Avenue can be returned to the tax rolls at its full value. During the 23-year life of the TIF, the tax value of the property was frozen at its 1992 level. New revenues, generated by increases in property values, were used to set up a special fund to finance new infrastructure in the TIF district.

Finance Director Scott Bordui told board members he expects the TIF fund will be completely exhausted following a number of final tasks to the Meijer project and the future retail plans. These include roadway and water main improvements along Crawford, the demolition of the four acquired properties and the contract with Houseal Lavigne. The four properties to be demolished are at 19605 Crawford, 19719 Crawford, 3601 198th St. and 3752 198th St. Board members last week approved a contract with KLF Enterprises for the demolition and removal. Flossmoor Fire Chief Chris Sewell said he expects that the demolition work will not be completed until next June or July. The structures will be used for fire training exercises, he said. The buildings on 198th Street will likely be burned, and the two structures on Crawford will be used for other training exercises. A great community deserves a great newspaper.

The HF Chronicle was created in June 2014 as the Homewood Chronicle (but we soon realized Homewood and Flossmoor are so interconnected that it makes better sense to cover both villages). Our mission is to chronicle the life of our community — news by, for, and about the people of Homewood and Flossmoor, Illinois.

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