Batavia aldermen recommend approval of Walgreens agreement

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 8:02 a.m. CDT

BATAVIA – The construction of a new Walgreens store in downtown Batavia took another step forward Tuesday as aldermen in a 9-3 vote recommended approval of a redevelopment agreement for the project.

Voting “no” at the Joint Committee of the Whole meeting were 1st Ward Alderman Michael O’Brien, 5th Ward Alderman Lucy Thelin Atac and 6th Ward Alderman Lisa Clark. The full City Council is set to vote on the agreement Monday.

O’Brien had asked for the vote to be delayed.

“The details keep dribbling in,” O’Brien said. “Let’s not rush into it. It’s taxpayers money that we are spending here.”

Batavia Enterprises Vice President Austin Dempsey was happy that the project is moving forward. Batavia Enterprises is the developer for the project.

“This is going to add significant benefit to Batavia,” Dempsey said after the vote.

The project is in a tax increment financing district. Under the proposal, Batavia Enterprises would receive $450,000 from the city as the project moves forward, and another $693,000 that would be paid out over 12 years if the project generates enough TIF increment to cover it, Dempsey said.

The new store could open in early 2015. In TIF districts, the total equalized assessed valuation (EAV) within a district at the time of creation is measured and frozen. Then revenues generated from the application of the local composite tax rate to the incremental growth in property tax revenues over the frozen baseline amount are used to pay for redevelopment costs.

Once a development project is completed and has been paid for, the TIF district is dissolved and the tax base is returned to full use by all eligible taxing bodies.

Prior to the vote, aldermen and residents debated the issue.

"I don't believe we should subsidize new construction in downtown Batavia with TIF money," said former Batavia alderman Eldon Frydendall.

Batavia 6th Ward Alderman Nicholas Cerone said there would be little risk to taxpayers.

"It is a pay as you perform type of investment," he said.

Total project costs for the new Walgreens store are estimated to reach about $6 million, which includes a 10 percent contingency of $520,250. Because the property has poor soil, the new building would have to be built on concrete caissons or piers, which is estimated to cost $275,000.

In addition, a large storm drain line runs through the city-owned portion of the property.

The line acts as an overflow route from the southern tip of Depot Pond to a point in the Fox River just north of the city of Batavia’s Emergency Services and Disaster Agency garage.

Dempsey said the line needs to be moved at a cost of $300,000.

Batavia Enterprises wants to move Walgreens from its current location at 138 W. Wilson St. in the Batavia Plaza into a 14,500-square-foot building with a drive-thru just east of East China Inn in the same shopping center.

Batavia Enterprises owns Batavia Plaza.

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