Ravenswood Station Project Demands TIF And Residential Component To Go Forward

By Mike Fourcher | Friday, December 2, 2011

Rendering of the proposed 162 Ravenswood Terrace units, which would be located just north of the proposed Ravenswood Station project at Lawrence Ave. and the Metra North line.

The two biggest aspects of last night’s Ravenswood Station project were not even in the developers’ presentation: the developers require $4.4 million of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) money and the approval of a residential component of the project before it can go forward.

Using stronger language than his predecessor ever did in a community meeting, Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), reminded residents that approval or rejection of the project would be his, and his alone.

“This is not going to be a direct democracy,” said Pawar. “Mariano’s has an aggressive expansion plan. If this doesn’t break ground next year, they’re just not going to build here.”

Thursday night’s presentation was limited to the retail component planned by Great Lakes Partners and The Taxman Company. However, a second residential parcel to the north, which drew a great deal of community concern in previous developer proposals, would also be approved by the city as part of the planned development proposal submitted by developers. That component was not discussed in last night’s meeting, nor were developers for that project present at the meeting.

[See renderings of the proposed retail component here. Renderings of the proposed residential development are at the bottom of this article.]

Different from zoning changes, planned developments are sought by large developers because they establish from the outset of a project what is expected of the developer and because once approved by City Council, city officials have little ability to demand changes. Thus, developers seek lightly-defined planned developments, while community members usually seek strictly-defined planned developments.

As proposed today, the retail component of the planned development would be significantly detailed, while Ald. Pawar confirmed in an interview after last night’s meeting that he had no specific requirements or process for the residential half of the planned development.

The second parcel, according to documents submitted to Ald. Pawar, would include a second development, Ravenswood Terrace, with 162 new units and buildings up to six-stories tall. The $25 million development would be led by developer Greg Merdinger and designed by Grec Architects. The developer’s submitted plans suggest construction would start in June 2012 and residents would begin to move in on March 2013.

Pawar also said that retail component of the project, which is expected to cost $43 million and generate 200 construction jobs and 350 new retail jobs, requires $4.5 million in TIF funds to move forward. Developers, Pawar said, are able to obtain financing for most of the project, but not the final $4.5 million.

The retail developers project that once competed, the property will annually generate $1 million in property taxes, up from the current annual $110,000 tax bill. Therefore, Pawar calculates, the TIF allocation would be recouped in less than five years.

Another significant aspect of the project is that developers plan to time the construction of the retail and residential components to coincide with the new Metra station at Lawrence Ave. and reconstruction of the Lawrence Ave. rail overpass. Construction for all projects would begin in Spring 2012 with an anticipated Spring 2013 completion date.

Developers also announced that Sears plans to eliminate the 50 parking spaces currently rented to Metra commuters in the existing parking lot.

Ravenswood Terrace Concept Drawings 11-16-11

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  • Anonymous

    I’m a little confused by your first paragraph.  Maybe the developer’s didn’t discuss the TIF in their presentation, but Pawar discussed it at length in introducing the development team.  In addition, the question was asked whether one portion of the project was dependent on the other and the answer was “no” that this was proceeding independently of the development of the other parcel.   Are you saying that was incorrect?  

    • http://twitter.com/ravenshood Boy in the ‘Wood

      Yep this article is very confusing to me and contradictory to what I heard as well.

    • Anonymous

      Following the meeting I interviewed Ald. Pawar and developer Tim Barrett. Both of them confirmed that only one planned development will be submitted for the entire site (both parcels). As a matter of process, when you submit plans for a planned development to the city, it is essentially frozen in place, unless the various committees and City Council request changes before the final Council vote.If there were two, separate planned developments then you could accurately say they are proceeding independently. However, because they are joined together, that is not the case.
      From the developer perspective, the residential parcel could be proceeding independently since they are requesting their parcel be lightly-defined. But after the planned development is approved by City Council, the community will lose any ability to affect how the development will look.

      Under these circumstances, I do not know why Ald. Pawar would would say the residential parcel is proceeding independently.

      • niuguy

        Yes, if its a single planned development the two projects are most certainly linked.  I look forward to learning more about this.  The city usually has plenty to say about many aspects of the development during the PD process.

  • Pingback: Ravenswood Terrace Residential Project Dead? | The Center Square Journal

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  • Anonymous

    I am concerned about another residential development the community possibly doesn’t even want, and the alderman’s sudden shift from inviting everyone’s input to flatly denying a vote.  Even the previous  alderman (who many had problems with) permitted a vote, however reluctantly.  I wonder what Sears might be doing behind the scenes to influence things.  The rep for the residential component, who spoke at the McPherson school meeting, said Sears wants to sell them the rear parcel.  The article quotes Ald. Pawar as saying “If this doesn’t break ground next year, they’re [Mariano's] just not going to build here.”  What gives?

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