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Oswego Village Board Approves Downtown TIF District

Sep 06, 2016 08:34PM ● Published by Steven Jack

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An often-debated Tax Increment Finance District to spur the redevelopment of downtown Oswego is officially in place. 

The Village Board unanimously approved the TIF at its meeting Tuesday night. Village President called the vote a "huge step" forward for Oswego. 

"I really think we're going to see some amazing things happening in our downtown in the next few years," she said. 

In theory, a TIF District encourages redevelopment in blighted or underdeveloped areas by using future property taxes resulting from new construction or capital improvements. Property taxes generated prior to the creation of the TIF district — the base level — continue to be distributed to local taxing bodies at the same amount. 

The gradual growth in tax revenue above the base level — the increment — is used for redevelopment as property values rise. TIF funds may repay borrowing done by the municipality to finance redevelopment within the district, or they may finance improvements only as new revenue is generated.

The scope of redevelopment work needed in the downtown TIF will be large. The district is centered around the Washington and Main street areas where millions of dollars of infrastructure improvements are needed to support any potential developments. 

According to the TIF District redevelopment plan, "The village’s “vision” is to establish the area as a Riverfront Downtown that combines the best of the old and the new, drawing visitors from Oswego as well as neighboring communities. The historic charm of Main Street will be strengthened with new development that brings more shops and residents to the heart of Downtown." 

Johnson said before Tuesday night's meeting that there have been no formal proposals from developers looking to break ground in Oswego; however, several have been in contact with officials. 

"We have had at least three (that are) more than interested and a couple more inquiries," she said. "(We don't have the) details as of yet. Nothing (is) official. I'm hopeful after tonight there will be more formal proposals." 

This is not the first time in recent years a TIF District has been proposed for downtown redevelopment. In 2010, developers Harold Oliver and Angelo Kleronomos proposed unsuccessfully to build retail and residential units on the Alexander Lumber land in the downtown. 

That plan called for the creation of a downtown TIF District to help fund infrastructure improvements for the $44 million project. With not enough support from the then Oswego Village Board the TIF was never created and the proposed development deal collapsed. 

The most current TIF creation process has faced little opposition from public officials, but residents in and around the district have appeared at recent TIF hearings to express their concerns. 

Those fears have ranged from a perceived threat to the historic character of the downtown to potential tax hikes if property values in the TIF should increase after redevelopment has occurred. 

 

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