Lake Zurich TIF funds to benefit downtown art center
Pete J. Panagakis, left, owner of 20 E. Main St. in Lake Zurich, tours the property with Jay Johnson and Frankie Johnson of Mainstreet Art Centre. The art center is relocating to the address. | Joe Cyganowski~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 7, 2013 6:29AM
LAKE ZURICH — The redevelopment of Main Street property in downtown Lake Zurich has been the subject of debate for more than 10 years.
In a Nov. 19 move by the Village Board, trustees voted to allow $12,000 in Tax Increment Financing funds to go to the redevelopment of Mainstreet Art Centre, which is moving to 20 E. Main St.
But the approval of the funds was not unanimous.
“I’m having a hard time agreeing to something like this,” said Trustee Dana Rzeznik.
Village Trustees Tom Poynton and Rich Sustich supported the vote.
“I think this is exactly where we should be spending our money,” said Sustich, explaining that TIF funds are meant to help distressed properties.
Frankie Johnson, owner of the Mainstreet Art Centre, has run her business at 16 E. Main St. for more than a decade. Pete Panagakis, Lake Zurich resident and owner of the Main Street property, said the new space would be significantly larger, allowing Johnson to have studio space she currently does not have.
“She just wants to grow, and this will give her the opportunity to do that,” said Panagakis.
Johnson said the funds, which reduce a $24,000 water service connection fee to $12,000, would allow her to have one extra classroom. Johnson said the credit would also allow for larger class sizes.
“We’re excited about it,” Johnson said of the move. “After being in tight quarters for so long, this will be great.”
Jodie Andrew, director of finance for the Village of Lake Zurich, said the TIF, which was enacted in 2002, currently has about $1.9 million in funds. Andrew explained that the village purchased the land and intends for it to be used for retail and residential space. Since 2002, Andrew explained, there has been ongoing controversy regarding how the land and funds should be used.
“The big thing right now is debt-service payments,” she said. “People keep getting reassessed and the property value is going down. People are not buying, building and developing.”
Andrew said this is true of property values in Lake Zurich and elsewhere.
The downtown TIF expires Dec. 31, 2026. Andrew said because of economic uncertainty, it is impossible to say at this point if it will close on time or need to be extended.
“It’s still generating money, but not as much as it was a few years ago,” she explained.
The downtown TIF district is centered at the intersection of Route 22 and Old Rand Road. According to village documents the area includes the front of Main Street from Lake Street to just east of Carolyn Court. The TIF also extends northwest along Old Rand Road to include Breezewald Park and southwest along Genesee and the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railroad.