City set to approve St. Joseph Hospital TIF Jan. 17

Brock A. Stein | 1/5/2017, midnight
The new taxing district will help fund improvements to the area surround St. Joseph Hospital in downtown Joliet.
The proposed TIF district near Presence-St. Joseph Hospital in downtown Joliet. City of Joliet

The Joliet City Council will vote on whether to approve a Tax Increment Funding (TIF) district for the St. Joseph Hospital area downtown at its next full meeting on January 17.

The city approved a feasibility study to be completed by engineering firm SB Friedman in in 2016 and heard details of the findings during a public hearing on Tuesday night.

Report documents indicate that of the 110 parcels being considered for the TIF, 74% show signs of deterioration in addition to about 96% not being up to current building code. The study also found a lack of community planning for the area citing overcrowding of structures, inadequate parking, sidewalks and access to right of way.

The area being considered encompasses the land around the hospital district including Glenwood Ave on the north, Republic Ave on the west, Hammes Ave to the east and parts of Jefferson Street on the southern edge.

Rules governing the creation of TIF districts require properties to meet certain conditions in order to be eligible including land that is economically stagnant or blighted and would otherwise not attract private investment.

The TIF district could generate a $17.95 million budget to be reinvested in to the area over the 23-year lifespan of the district. Those funds could be directed toward improving public infrastructure as well as the surrounding streetscape, landscaping, and signage.

Once created, tax rates remain constant within a TIF district and during that time, any increases in property value and the resulting difference from the tax revenue increase would be directed to a TIF fund to be reinvested in improvements in the area. Property taxes don’t increase in the TIF district and property tax revenue continues to be distributed to the supported taxing bodies. The taxes generated from the increased property values would be distributed to the taxing bodies at the end of the TIF’s lifespan which would expire on December 31, 2041.

Business owner Ramona Jarvis said that the area is in need of the reinvestment that the TIF funding would provide. She said that the hospital provides a “great anchor” for the area but the added funds would ensure that improvements will be made to other properties such as hers on Springfield Ave. as well.

“Because the area really does need it,” said Jarvis who said she’s been considering purchasing another property on Springfield Ave. but was concerned about how she would attract renters. Those she’s spoken to have brought up similar issues.

“We need a new façade, we need the sidewalks and parking areas fixed,” she said.