Joliet looks at tax incentives to create a ‘medical campus’
By Bob Okon email@example.com October 23, 2012 6:18PM
Updated: November 25, 2012 11:39AM
JOLIET — City officials on Wednesday will look at possible tax incentives to encourage medical businesses to move into the area surrounding Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center.
The review of the potential Tax Increment Financing district will take place during a meeting of the Joliet City Council Land Use Committee, which will also consider a potential management company for Evergreen Terrace should the city win its condemnation suit, and examine a proposal for a new parking deck downtown.
The idea of a medical business district surrounding Saint Joseph was introduced in February by Mayor Thomas Giarrante during his “State of the City” speech.
Councilman Don Fisher, who heads the land use committee, said the city is at the point of considering tax incentives to encourage new business development in the area.
“I really think this is a great idea for recruitment of high-tech medical businesses into Joliet,” Fisher said.
This is the first time a council committee will review a TIF district for the area. A spokeswoman for Saint Joseph said the hospital does not know about the TIF plan.
“We’re unfamiliar with the proposal,” Jan Ciccarelli said.
The idea is to create a Tax Increment Financing district, which allows business developers to tap into a portion of property tax dollars to offset the cost of construction and development. TIFs are used to encourage development in areas labeled as blighted, but “blight” for the purposes of a TIF district does not necessarily match the common definition.
“Blight can be under-utilized buildings,” Fisher said.
He noted there are a number of older industrial buildings along Republic Avenue. There also are a number of vacancies in office buildings in the area.
Republic Avenue sites include the Giarrante Barber Shop, owned by the mayor’s brother, Bob. The mayor, a barber himself, has cut hair there but does not have an ownership interest, he said.
Giarrante said the establishment of a TIF district could draw high-technology medical jobs to the area.
“We’re looking to try to create a medical campus there,” he said. “It would definitely help to make it a TIF district.”
The city a year ago created a TIF district on Cass Street. It also has a TIF district downtown, which Fisher wants to extend.
The downtown TIF district also will be on Wednesday’s agenda because Fisher wants to extend its life. The downtown TIF has 11 years left, and Fisher wants to extend it to 23 years to foster private development.
The land use committee will meet at 3 p.m. in city hall.
In other business, the committee:
◆ Will hear a proposal to hire Holsten Real Estate Development and Management Corp. in Chicago for future management and redevelopment of Evergreen Terrace. The city is in the middle of a condemnation trial in which it is trying to take ownership of the subsidized housing complex on Broadway. The city intends to hire Holsten before the trial is completed so the city has a management plan in place if it wins the case.
◆ Will again review plans for a private developer to build a six-level, 400-space parking garage across from Silver Cross Field and next to the future transportation center. The plan for a public-private venture to develop the garage was first presented more than a year ago to the land use committee.