DeKalb City Council supports feasibility study for new TIF district on South Fourth Street

Feasibility study will review tax tool to help fund South Fourth Street redevelopments, from Taylor Street to I-88.

Fourth Ward Alderman Greg Perkins speaks at the Feb. 12, 2024 meeting of the DeKalb City Council.

DeKALB – DeKalb city leaders are moving forward with plans to conduct a study to determine if it’s feasible to establish a tax increment financing (TIF) redevelopment project area along the South Fourth Street corridor, from Taylor Street to Interstate 88.

At a recent public meeting, the DeKalb City Council authorized a consultant agreement with St. Louis-based PGAV Planners LLC to take a second look at the proposed redevelopment project boundaries, which feature a broader area this time around.

The last time the city studied the South Fourth Street corridor to determine its feasibility for establishing a TIF district dates back to February 2013, according to city documents. That redevelopment project area consisted of about 53 acres, including about 10 acres of rights-of-way, and roughly 70 parcels of private real estate.

In a memo to the council, city staff argued that private redevelopment is necessary, but private equity is not substantially evident.

City Manager Bill Nicklas urged the council to support the city’s plan to conduct a feasibility study to establish a TIF redevelopment project area along the South Fourth Street corridor.

“The only way to see it is to assess it and the only way to assess it is at this point to bring in some folks who can do it and knock it out and do it in a reasonable period of time,” Nicklas said.

A TIF district is an economic tool municipalities often use to create a pool of revenue meant to, over time, be used to improve a specific area, including fix dilapidated buildings, needed infrastructure or to help aid new or growing businesses.

PGAV Planners was enlisted by the city to perform consulting services needed to prepare findings of eligibility as well as draft a redevelopment plan for approximately $50,000, city documents show.

The South Fourth Street corridor has aged in terms of physical appearance over the years. It also has lost its share of commercial activity with the closing of restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses.

Meanwhile, billions have been invested into industrial developments just south of the I-88 right-of-way, which intersects South Fourth Street just south of Fairview Drive, city documents show.

Fourth Ward Alderman Greg Perkins referenced several businesses that are no longer in business and how the City Council has worked hard to fill vacancies as they arise.

For example, there was a KFC restaurant along South Fourth Street that DeKalb city leaders tried to redevelop only for plans not to come to fruition.

“My point is, there’s a real need in that key area of our community,” Perkins said. “That’s the developing piece of our community. So, the question then becomes, well how are going to fund the need? I think getting some pros involved to have a look and hold our hands in guidance is a great first step. I’m behind it 100%.”

The proposed study area, if approved, will include about 342 acres and 626 lots, city documents show.

Fifth Ward Alderman Scott McAdams said he stands behind his decision to support the city’s TIF redevelopment project area and plans to pursue a feasibility study.

“I strongly recommend that we look into it and that we spend the money to looking into financing,” McAdams said. “Hopefully, the numbers are there. I would like to see Fourth Street redeveloped now that we have downtown fairly redeveloped.”

The TIF feasibility study is expected to cost the city approximately $44,500, city documents show.

A report on the parcel surveys and infrastructure assessments is expected to occur in 60 to 90 days, at which point another review by city staff and the consultant team may take a month.

A special Joint Review Board meeting of all impacted area taxing bodies to review findings of the city’s TIF redevelopment feasibility study and staff recommendations could take place in August, city documents show.

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