Tax breaks agreed on for unnamed warehouse

Park 88 project would employ 175 workers By Chris Rickert - City Editor DeKALB - The city council agreed Monday that it is willing to forgo about $100,000 in property taxes to help lure an as-yet unnamed company looking to build a large warehouse. City officials and the head of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corp., Roger Hopkins, do not know the name of the company that is shopping around for a place to build the 410,000-square-foot distribution center. Hopkins said Monday that the inquiry came via a site selection firm, a company that scouts locations for other companies looking for land and tax breaks. According to City Manager Mark Biernacki and an Oct. 31 letter from developer Mark Goode of Venture One Real Estate, the company is a Fortune 100 company that would invest $14 million to build the project on “lot nine" along Fairview Drive in the Park 88 industrial park. It would employ 175 workers, although Hopkins said it's not clear how many of those positions would be hired locally and how many would come from other facilities in Illinois or elsewhere that the company is looking to consolidate. Average pay for the workers would be about $14.75 per hour. The company is asking for $1.3 million in tax breaks from eight local taxing bodies over five years as well as a waiver of city building-permit fees and an accelerated building plan-review process. The project is being referred to as “Project Nine" after the lot number in Park 88. The company hopes to have the center open and running by August 2007. The vote Monday to preliminarily approve the incentive package should the company choose DeKalb was 5-1, with Donna Gorski, 4th Ward, voting no and Pat Conboy, 5th Ward, absent. If the company picks DeKalb, the council will have to vote on a final development agreement with the company, whose name would then be revealed. There was little discussion about the incentives package, which Biernacki said is the same as that used to lure or retain other projects recently, including a new 3M warehouse on Peace Road and an expansion of the Panduit facility on Fairview. Alderman Steve Kapitan, 3rd Ward, however, did object to including salaried employees when determining how much a company has to pay its workers, on average, to get city tax breaks. “If we include the plant manager in this, then it skews the numbers," he said. Biernacki pointed out that in order to get the tax breaks, employees must make a minimum starting wage of $11 an hour. Chris Rickert can be reached at crickert@daily-chronicle.com.