Maintenance or a major facelift?
Wheeling Trustee Bill Hein says a nearly $1.1 million project at Arbor Court apartments falls into the second category. Hein supports the village awarding tax increment financing to reimburse the property owner for some of the renovations. Hundreds of residents live in the 13 apartment buildings in the complex along Dundee Road.
“We’re talking about a major lift here,” Hein said.
Hein, though, is in the minority.
Other trustees think the project — calling for new parking, facades, sidewalks, bike racks among other items — is mostly upkeep and that the owner, Neder Capital Services, should bear the brunt of the cost.
A village-hired consultant says more than $706,000, or almost 70 percent of the project’s cost, qualifies for TIF funding.
In a TIF district, which can last up to 23 years, as development boosts property values, the village funnels the extra tax revenue that otherwise would go to various units of government such as schools into a special fund that can be used to pay for improvements to the area.
The village’s consultant, however, says the Arbor Court project won’t generate any significant increment for Wheeling’s oldest TIF district.
That’s because the property value of the apartments is based on rent, said Mike Laube, another TIF consultant hired by Neder Capital. Since Neder won’t be raising rent, property values likely won’t increase, Laube said.
“No. 1, there is no return,” Trustee Dave Vogel said. “That bothers me a lot. No. 2, you’re collecting rents all along, and I would hope that the rent amount collected is enough to set aside monies to do projects like this.”
The board this week failed to reach a consensus on the amount of a TIF subsidy. Now, Arbor Court’s owner will meet with village officials to consider a much smaller incentive, Wheeling Economic Development Director John Melaniphy said.
Trustee Joseph Vito said the village should award $50,000 toward facades. Trustee Mary Krueger said she would rather the village “not spend a dime” but would support TIF for stormwater sewer upgrades, which “affects everybody.”
Village President Dean Argiris and Trustees Ken Brady and Ray Lang agreed many of the items on Neder’s wish list involve maintenance.
But Argiris said he would favor TIF for improvements to blighted areas, especially on the site’s north and south ends, that “would really change that complex, which I think is desperately needed.”
If the board sets aside TIF dollars, Neder would receive the money once construction is completed. The funding would come from the Crossroads TIF district, which was established in 1985 and has about four years remaining in its life.
“Timing is everything, fellas, huh?” Argiris told Neder representatives.