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Village of Downers Grove approves TIF funds for gas station project

DOWNERS GROVE – The Downers Grove Village Council unanimously approved $225,000 in TIF funds to assist Insite Real Estate redevelop the vacant Marathon gas station at 1201 Ogden Ave.

The gas station sits next door to the new Starbucks developed by Insite on a lot formerly occupied by a dry cleaning facility.

The current plan is to build a 5,000 square foot commercial building that would house two retail or restaurant tenants. The village would reimburse Insite with TIF funds of up to $225,000 for the remediation of environmental concerns on the lot left by the gas station.

Downers Grove staff said the environmental cleanup costs are estimated at $224,800. Mayor Martin Tully and Commissioner Greg Hose expressed support for the plan.

"I too think this is a good expenditure of TIF funds," Hose said. "I think this is exactly what we're looking for. This will be a great redevelopment on Ogden."

The council heard the first reading of the plan at its July 8 meeting.

Michael Cassa, President and CEO of the Downers Grove Economic Development Corporation, said at that meeting the agreement requires the project to be completed by Jan. 1, 2016. Insite would also be required to obtain a "no further remediation or removal" letter from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency following the cleanup work.

"Insite is actively marketing the site," he said July 8. "Several national and regional tenants have expressed interest in the lease space. The redevelopment of the property, especially since it is located at a signalized intersection is very important for the economic vitality of the Ogden corridor.

"The redevelopment of a vacant dry cleaner site and closed gas station site, side by side, will not only have a positive impact on that portion of Ogden but will also make it easier for us to pursue other redevelopment projects in the entire Ogden Avenue corridor."

Resident and Classic Cinemas owners Willis Johnson commented during the July 8 meeting that he was "puzzled" as to why the village would pay for the environmental remediation and not the current owners.

Johnson said that in some development projects he has headed where environmental remediation was needed, that cost was taken into consideration by the property seller in a reduced sales price.

Cassa added that originally the gas station was a tenant on the property, and the actual owner lost the lot in foreclosure to a bank.

In village memos, staff reported back during the July 15 meeting that the current property owner "is not required to remediate the site and has indicated that it is not willing to do so. Therefore, this property would not be resold and redeveloped at this time but for this agreement," the staff memo read. "The developer has more experience and capacity for environmental remediation."

Insite formed a separate entity named 1201 Ogden Avenue, Llc., for the project.

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