GLEN ELLYN – With a tax increment financing (TIF) district coming to Roosevelt Road in Glen Ellyn and new businesses popping up throughout downtown, economic development in the village is improving significantly according to officials.
“Over the past year and a half ... more calls are coming in, banks are starting to lend again, so that makes a big difference,” said Meredith Hannah, Glen Ellyn’s new economic development coordinator.
The Roosevelt Road/Park Boulevard TIF district and downtown Glen Ellyn are the main areas that have been targeted by the village for economic growth.
As of Sept. 25, there were about 35 vacancies across town, with a majority located along Roosevelt Road, according to village records.
Vacancies at that time included about nine in the downtown area, which is comparable to what can be found in other downtowns, said Hannah, who has been in conversations with five parties interested in opening businesses in the village.
Two other vacancies were recently filled downtown by a dance studio and woman’s boutique. Another boutique and restaurant are expected to open near the Glen Art Theatre within the next few weeks.
“Now that the downtown is filling up, we are a destination location to shop, with a variety of businesses,” said Carol White, executive director of the Alliance of Downtown Glen Ellyn. “It’s an exciting time for downtown, no doubt about it.”
Traditionally, Glen Ellyn has been a business-friendly community, and the village continues to move in that direction, said Mike Formento, co-executive director of the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce and former village president.
“Glen Ellyn is a highly desirable community to be in,” Formento said.
Incentives for business owners in Glen Ellyn include exterior and interior improvement grant programs.
Other incentives relate to ways the village can offset the costs of construction for developers in certain circumstances.
For example, the village agreed to a sales tax incentive as part of the development of the Fresh Market site, which involved extensive street construction. As part of the incentive, the developer will receive a portion of the sales tax generated by the store.
TIF districts provide similar benefits to developments, as the monies may be used to support developers if they face challenges at a site.
The Roosevelt Road/Park Boulevard TIF district was established to encourage growth in the corridor, which has struggled with private development due to structure deterioration, inadequate utilities and a lack of community planning.
Since TIF monies may be used as incentives for developers or to improve utilities and infrastructure in an area, the district is expected to attract development.
The life of a TIF district is 23 years, so residents shouldn’t expect to see major changes immediately along the Roosevelt Road/Park Boulevard corridor or in the downtown TIF district established in 2012, Village Manager Mark Franz said.
“It sets us up for the future and allows us much more flexibility in trying to be more proactive and enter into partnerships with developers, both in the downtown and on Roosevelt Road,” Franz said.
One spot along Roosevelt Road that isn’t a source of concern for the village is the Dominick’s grocery store. Although the store’s parent company, Safeway Inc., announced plans to pull the grocery chain from the Chicago area by next year, Hannah said she doesn’t expect the property to be vacant long, based on her conversations with the property’s broker.
Economic development benefits the village through sales and property tax revenues, but having a successful business move in also encourages nearby businesses to improve their own efforts, she said.
“That makes an impression on the community,” Hannah said. “It makes people want to be here.”