Woodstock City Council on Tuesday approved its final funding allocations from the city’s first tax increment financing district, which was created 23 years ago to spur public improvements within a 42-block portion of the downtown.
The Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s House was given the largest amount of funding from this year’s district tax collection with more than $732,000 set aside to help fund renovation of the facilitiles.
Planned improvements include interior improvements needed to meet building code requirements, replacement of its plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, rewiring its electrical systems and replacement of lighting fixtures, according to city documents.
City officials have kept upgrading the city-owned Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s House on their to-do lists for years, and earlier this year they applied for state and federal tax credits to fund a facade renovation and other improvements.
“When the city took control of the building, it was getting pretty run down and if nothing had been done, it’s very likely that a catastrophic failure with the roof might have happened. The building is just too important to the Square and Woodstock and McHenry County in general that they couldn’t let that happen,” Darrell Moore, a Woodstock city planner, said in an interview.
Among the other projects the city’s first tax increment financing, or TIF, district, will contribute funding toward with council’s Monday approval are a $10,000 allocation to the building facade improvement program; another $10,000 for sidewalk repair and replacement; just over $18,000 for the downtown brick replacement program to replace deteriorating bricks; and about $35,000 to acquire trash enclosures. All of the funds are to be spent within the TIF district’s boundaries.
Another $197,000 will be put toward debt payments on bonds issued by the city to acquire and remediate properties in the downtown TIF district.
Taxes received in 2021 will be the final round of funding distributed by the city’s first TIF, as state law gives districts 23 years from their formation to use duties collected from within their boundaries to finance projects that would have a positive impact on their properties. Municipalties can seek a 13-year extension if certain conditions are met.
A main reason Woodstock created its first TIF in 1997 was to catalyze redevelopment of the former Die Cast auto parts facility, which was vacated in the early 1990s, according to city documents about the TIF’s creation.
The city is still working to achieve that goal.
The TIF came close to helping establish a new residential use on the property, but ultimately the would-be developer abandoned plans to erect 400 townhomes and apartments due to the global financial crisis that struck in the late 2000s, according to Moore and the Northwest Herald.
But the TIF did play a role in keeping the city in a position to pick up the pieces and move forward, Moore said. The city in January purchased the property with the intent of shaping its redevelopment.
Officials are in talks with a developer who could submit a formal residential proposal for the Die Cast site to the city as soon as next month, Moore said.
The TIF “was intended to make it possible to redevelop the Die Cast site and it was successful as it could be. The market wasn’t ready at the right time, but we have things in the pipeline now that could be changing very soon,” Moore said.
“The TIF was successful in that regard and it has continued to provide needed funds for not only the courthouse but also downtown streetscapes which have been much improved over the years,” he continued. “From my perspective, it has been an invaluable resource to have those funds available for the improvements that have come up.”