I love his blog, but respectfully disagree with his opposition to Heart of Peoria redevelopment efforts. If an older city does not lead the redevelopment of its older central city, it will continue to decline.
Take a look at beautiful downtown Harvey, Chicago Heights, and Gary. I know these cities well. Most of their efforts to rebuild their central city was too little, too late. A visit to their downtowns might convince a skeptic that a city must rebuild itself, or give up and move out.
We would all prefer that we did not have to incent the redevelopment of our older cities, but that is not reality.
People are angry about taxes and incentives to the private sector. I understand that anger. But these folks should also understand that a decision not to incent redevelopment is a decision to give up on your older areas.
Downtown Peoria has some outstanding advantages that Harvey, Chicago Heights, and Gary did not share. The City overlooks the Illinois River, providing a great view. Our downtown is fortunate to have two great hospitals and a corporate headquarters of Caterpillar, a very successful company that cares about its home town. And the interstate runs through downtown, providing great access.
Still, incentives are required to rebuild downtown. Developers go where they are certain they can develop and get a great return. Redevelopment is much more costly and high risk then greenfield development. We have to equalize these costs through incentives if we want private sector renewal.
Tax Increment Financing is controversial. But there is no question that it is an effective way to build tax base and jobs. The Southtown TIF is the oldest TIF in the City of Peoria and one of the oldest in Illinois. The graph and chart show that the value of real estate within the TIF grew much faster then the City and District 150. In 2013, the TIF will be completed, and the tax revenues will go to all the local goverments.
The graph and chart below show how effectively the two new Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIF's) have worked. Despite "The Great Recession of 2007-2009", Equalized Assessed Evaluation (EAV) has grown very rapidly in the TIF's, faster then the City as a whole and faster then School District 150. 150 lags the City because it's boundary misses the rapidly developing north side of the City.