Fourth Street plans continue at monthly meetings

DeKALB – The next steps in redeveloping a strip on the city's south side might include defining a vision, hiring a design architect, and creating a group identity.

About 20 people who own businesses or land along South Fourth Street between Taylor Street and Interstate 88 attended a meeting last week to get ideas flowing.

Those interested will continue to meet the second Tuesday of each month, said Brian Scholle, who recapped those ideas Tuesday before the DeKalb Economic Development Committee. Because it lacked a quorum, it was not an official meeting of the committee.

Scholle, an insurance agent whose office is on South Fourth Street, is spearheading the initiative to redevelop South Fourth Street, which he stressed will require a lot of patience.

"South Fourth Street has to be the next area that's on the city's radar," Scholle said.

Creating a tax increment financing district would be a necessary step, Scholle said, especially if the vision includes fixing infrastructure problems and blighted building facades.

A TIF allows taxing bodies to invest in specific areas that have been identified as having physical and economic deficiencies by applying new tax revenue generated within the TIF district to new development or redevelopment efforts in that area for a specific number of years. It would take at least a year to get a TIF approved, Scholle said.

At the first meeting of stakeholders, the main concerns shared were safety, lighting and aesthetics, Scholle said. They suggested lighting the street at night, clearing noxious weeds, enforcing other property maintenance issues, and possibly installing benches and decorative landscaping.

It also will mean giving the area an identity of its own.

"We came to the conclusion that we need to brand ourselves – make it a Chicago neighborhood feel, old town," Scholle said.

Committee member John Rey was impressed with the ideas for branding.

"I was excited with the focus, the participation, as we got into that branding discussion," Rey said. "The family theme came up. Either businesses, the neighborhood, having the school down – they were all family-type venues."

Once ideas solidify, Scholle and the neighborhood group are asked to bring back a more formal report to the Economic Development Committee, chairman Herb Rubin said.

If you go

Meeting for anyone interested in South Fourth Street redevelopment

When: 3 p.m. Dec. 8

Where: City Hall council chambers, 200 S. Fourth St. in DeKalb