Ravenswood Station Zoning Plans Pass City Council; On Track For TIF Funding

By Sam Charles | Thursday, November 1, 2012

A rendering of the coming Mariano’s storefront and the corner of Ravenswood and Lawrence.

After approval from the City Council Zoning Committee on Oct. 25, a city ordinance to develop the northwest corner at the intersection of Ravenswood and Lawrence avenues was given the green light at the most recent council meeting, passing with a 49-0 vote.

The project, which will bring a Mariano’s grocery store, Sears Auto Care Center, an LA Fitness and more than 150 luxury rental units to the area, is hoping to receive $4.5 million in TIF dollars from the city, said 47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar. The ordinance to award the requested TIF dollars to the project now goes to the City Council Finance Committee, and if passed, onto the full City Council. The sought TIF dollars would not go toward funding the residential development.

Construction crews will break ground in the coming weeks and will be finished by Fall 2013, Pawar said.

“If everything goes as planned, which we are expecting, this would pass [at the next City Council meeting] and they would close their construction months within a couple days. After that, it’s really just a matter of site preparation and getting into the ground,” Pawar said.

The development of the property at 1800-24 W. Lawrence Ave. is coinciding with the Lawrence Avenue Streetscape, a separate venture that seeks to improve the street’s quality and infrastructure.

The streetscape is scheduled to break ground in April 2013. Currently, the city is working to install  new water mains before the resurfacing element of the project begins.Pawar said that the two projects being underway at the same time only adds to the area’s potential commercial appeal and that the 47th Ward Office has received more calls from businesses in and around the city that are looking to Lawrence Avenue to expand as a result of the development plans.

Plans to develop the area had been discussed before Pawar took office, he said, but they ultimately fell through. When he was elected, the amount of TIF money that had previously been agreed upon to help fund the project was more than he was willing to spend, he said.

“One of the things I said then was ‘This is not going to work if we’re talking about $10, $12, $13 million in TIF [money for Ravenswood Station] like had been discussed in the past. There’s no way. There’s no appetite for that and I personally don’t think that that amount of money is a good use of the TIF dollars, given that we’re already working on the streetscape,’” Pawar said.

Pawar added that the $4.5 million in TIF dollars accounts for about 10 percent of the total project cost, and the revenue expected will soon replenish the TIF funds used for initial development.

“This parcel right now only generates $100,000 a year in property taxes,” Pawar said. “The day Mariano’s opens and the year after that it will generate $1 million in property taxes. On Day 1, this generates an additional $900,000 in property taxes. This is huge for the community.”

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