Tax proposals filed with Springfield that could help Bears develop proposed Arlington Heights


A law that could help the Chicago Bears to finance a proposed development at Arlington Heights was filed Monday in Springfield, allowing property tax assessments on the former Arlington International Racecourse property to last up to 40 years. to freeze.

The plan, which would require the Bears to convert the 326-acre site into a stadium and invest at least $500 million in mixed-use developments around the area, has been floated for weeks and has faced some skepticism. there is he submitted the bill.

State Senator Anne Gillespie said Monday, “We have expressed doubts as to whether this is the approach…we really want to open the door.”

The Arlington Heights Democrat said she is sponsoring the proposal because she wants to see the concept. , said it was embedded in the wider conversation about reforming another form of tax aid for development known as tax-increased financing. She argues that the TIF is a frequently used economic development tool that often results in homeowners and small businesses paying higher property taxes.

“If we do, we need to do it in a way that protects housing taxpayers and small business taxpayers from paying a disproportionate share of the burden,” Gillespie said.

As Senator Anne Gillespie showed in 2020, she hopes the concept will be incorporated into the wider conversation about reforming another form of tax subsidies for development known as tax boost financing. It states that she sponsors the proposal.

The bill, which was submitted Monday, could also be used for other megaprojects, and companies such as the Bears with such contracts would be required to pay property taxes based on frozen valuations, in addition to , must negotiate annual payments to local tax authorities. The idea, according to its proponents, is to create incentives for greater development that wouldn’t happen without support.

The Bears declined to comment, and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, which has actively supported such proposals, did not respond to requests for comment.

The bill has not yet been assigned to a review committee and will likely face backlash from Chicago lawmakers who don’t want it any easier for the NFL’s charter franchises to leave the city of the same name.

Senator Robert Peters, a Chicago Democrat whose constituency includes Soldier Field, said the latest proposal from Gillespie should be considered, but expressed disappointment over how the whole situation was handled by the Bears. expressed.

“What I would say to the Bears is talk to people and different stakeholders before they decide to make a lot of threats about leaving town.” The whole thing just goes on as the Bears themselves tackled it backwards, and it’s on them.

A spokeswoman for Gov. JB Pritzker, who previously said she does not support providing state support for the new Bears stadium in the suburbs, did not respond to a request for comment on the latest proposal on Monday.

One of Pritzker’s most recent economic development priorities was the creation of a special fund to close deals with companies considering locating in Illinois. But the law establishing the fund, which he signed into law Friday, expressly prohibits its use to provide incentives to professional sports teams that relocate within the state.

Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said village officials are still trying to fully understand the proposal Gillespie submitted on Monday, but he has not considered the concept of making the Bears’ move more financially viable. welcomed.

In 2021, commuters leaving the Arlington Park Metra Station in Arlington Heights will pass the former Arlington International Racecourse.

“What’s interesting about this proposed law is that it can be applied to other megaprojects that could benefit the state,” Hayes said. “So we are eagerly awaiting the state’s response to this to determine where things go from here.”

Local school officials say the law could limit property tax revenues, even though new housing at the Bears site could attract more students. I am concerned about

The mayor said village officials had already spoken with school officials to allay concerns. “This will be beneficial to all tax authorities in the long run. At least that is our hope,” he said.

Arlington Heights Village Manager Randy Rekraus said it remains unclear “what the final outcome of the bill will be.”

“But whoever buys Arlington Park, we will be watching closely to see if new tools are being created for local governments like ours to deal with these kinds of projects,” he said. .

The Bears have agreed to purchase the former racetrack for $197 million in September 2021, but the team has yet to sign a deal. Team chairman George McCuskey said the racetrack site remains the team’s “single focus”, but officials are trying to determine if a deal can be struck in the first quarter of this year.

“It’s important for us to be methodical, get the details and take the time to plan properly,” said new Bears president and CEO Kevin Warren, who previously oversaw construction of the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium. .”

In Arlington Heights, the Bears are proposing to build a new enclosed stadium as part of a $5 billion worth of apartments, condominiums, bars, restaurants and parks, but team executives say government subsidies for the infrastructure are not enough. He said he would not proceed with development without it. cost.

Jeremy Gorner of the Chicago Tribune contributed from Springfield. Caroline Kubzhanski of the Pioneer Press also contributed.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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