Since the start of the city’s Tax Increment Financing districts eight years ago, a Redevelopment Incentive Program has helped multiple businesses.
The RIP grant program provides financial assistance for permanent building and site improvements on properties located within the Midtown and Western Gateway TIF districts.
“It’s to assist small business development in our community,” Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said.
The purpose of the program is to provide an incentive for existing businesses to expand and new businesses to locate within the TIF areas, while also improving the quality of design and construction of increasing the value of property and improvements in these designated areas, according to the city’s program description.
One of those businesses that received assistance was Myers Flooring Center, 802 N. Vermilion St.
Owner Shane Myers said he didn’t know anything about the TIF district, RIP and incentives. He learned about it through his Realtor, Larry Kuchefski. Myers Flooring Center opened in November 2011.
Myers Flooring received $6,022 in direct TIF incentive, $2,800 in indirect TIF incentives for public improvements/right-of-way work with $45,626 in total project costs illustrated to the city.
“We blacktopped our lot and landscaped,” Myers said about some of the improvements.
The money helped with all exterior improvements, he said.
“It helped quite a bit,” Myers said.
“I think it’s great,” he said of the program.
Other businesses also have benefited.
Chris Milliken, urban planning manager with the city, said the city did not approach the businesses, but the businesses came to the city inquiring about the incentive.
In the case of Classy Critters, 8 E. Fairchild St., it was the property owner who made inquiries. On the other sites, the business owner is the property owner, and it was the owner who came to the city, according to Milliken.
For Quad D (Classy Critters), property owners received $7,291 in direct TIF incentives, $11,170 in indirect TIF incentive for public improvements/right-of-way work and $87,303 in project costs were illustrated to the city.
Another business, Hair Express, 501 N. Vermilion St., also benefited. It received $3,300 in direct TIF incentive, $4,400 in indirect TIF incentive for public improvements/right-of-way work, with $47,499 project costs illustrated to the city.
General guidelines for the RIP grant program:
- Available only for properties within the Midtown or Western Gateway TIF Districts.
- An application for a RIP grant may be made only by a person or persons having an actual interest in the subject property. This includes an owner of record, tenant, beneficial owner of a trust, or a person having made an offer, which offer has been accepted, to purchase the subject property.
- Applications must be submitted, reviewed and approved before the project begins. Work completed prior to application approval is ineligible.
- Any debts owed to the city by the applicant or property owner must be paid up to date prior to submitting an application.
- All work funded by a RIP grant must be permanently affixed to the real estate. Examples of permanent improvements include: life safety and accessibility code improvements, repair/replacement of roof, floors, structural or partitioned walls or windows; repair/replacement of electrical, plumbing, heating or cooling systems; installation of an elevator, sprinklers and fire or smoke alarm systems; façade restoration; and site improvements, including parking lot paving, landscaping, lighting or fencing.
- At least 50 percent of the grant funds must be used on the exterior of a structure or on site improvements.
- The amount of RIP assistance is contingent on a set of project review criteria. The more project review criteria the project meets, the higher the level of assistance. The grant amount approved will be between 5-25 percent of the cost of all permanent improvements. The director of Public Development is authorized to approve individual grants of up to $25,000. Individual grant amounts over $25,000 must be approved by the city council.
- RIP funding may not exceed $50,000 per property in any five-year period unless as part of a redevelopment agreement approved by the city council.
- Grants are paid on a reimbursement basis or directly to a vendor or contractor for products or services already delivered. Grant funds are not given in advance.
- Grant approval is subject to the availability of funds in the city’s TIF account.
TIF revenues may finance only activities considered “TIF eligible” as defined under the Illinois Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act. RIP grants may be used to fund only the following “TIF eligible” activities: costs of the rehabilitation, reconstruction, repair or remodeling of an existing private building; site preparation and improvement costs; and relocation costs.
RIP grants may not fund the construction of a new, privately owned building, the acquisition of inventory, general operating costs, or furniture, fixtures, and equipment as these are not eligible costs.
A prospective applicant should meet with a city planning official to discuss a potential project, review program guidelines and the process for receiving a RIP grant, and obtain an application form.
An applicant should submit a completed application and all required attachments.
The application will be reviewed and a determination made. If the application is approved, the grant amount will be calculated based upon the review criteria and funding availability.
For grant amounts which require city council approval, the application and staff review report will be submitted to the city council for final action.
Once a grant amount has been determined and an application has received final approval, the project may proceed.
The grant check will be awarded after project completion or upon submittal of copies of invoices and proof of payment of all related costs.
Upon the completion of all work, actual project cost information, actual job creation/retention information and other documentation as provided for in the agreement shall be submitted by the applicant.
Anyone considering investing in the Midtown or Western Gateway Tax Increment Financing areas and who are interested in learning how TIF might be able to assist can contact the city at 431-2321 for details.