Since early 2011, the village board and staff have continued efforts to finally bring downtown revitalization to a successful start after the ESG agreement was terminated due to lack of demonstrated financing.
Most recently, four developers have brought forward initial, high level concept plans for Block A, known to many as the old Twigs site across from the Promenade.
On Monday, August 20th, The Village Board failed to reach consensus on granting a single developer exclusivity for a short-period (60-120 days) to complete their due diligence.
Towards the end of board discussion, Richard Sova – representing Landover Corp, approached the board and indicated the process was counter to what is typically experienced in the development community.
Mr. Sova’s comments resonated with me --rather than tie the process up while the board reached a consensus – I proposed declaring the property surplus and marketing the properties accordingly.
Throughout the process, each of the developers has indicated they have financing commitments, now is the opportunity to allow them to deliver on the commitment and begin downtown revitalization through the acquisition of both public and private parcels.
Some concern has been expressed by my colleagues that the village would lose control over the project if the property were declared surplus and placed on the open market.
This is simply not possible--any project that proceeds will have to conform to existing village codes and form based regulations. To protect the village from another failed start, preference can be granted to bids that seek to acquire a majority of the parcels (preventing a NIMBY from blocking progress) and provide verifiable financing commitments.
Further protection can be provided by placing property in escrow until building moves forward within a specified period of time (say less than 2 years); otherwise the property returns to the village.
Unfortunately, the time has passed to prevent the TIF burden from reaching into the taxpayers hands. Serious pressure will be placed on village services in the near future as general sales tax revenues will be diverted to cover the debt payments in the TIF.
Now is the time to set aside personal political agendas and interests and move downtown revitalization forward efficiently and effectively as possible.
I encourage all residents to gather the facts, talk with your elected officials and reach out to the developers themselves to determine your preferred course of action.
Our next Village Board meeting is Tuesday, September 4th at 7 p.m., I hope to see you there.