Southwestern Illinois TIF Success Stories
PGAV Planners help Springfield redevelop ‘untouchable’ industrial site
By ALAN J. ORTBALS
PGAV Planners was one of the founding members of the Illinois Tax Increment Association.
Part of PGAV, a global professional firm specializing in planning, architecture, design and destination consulting, PGAV Planners has provided TIF assistance in 24 states and nearly 300 Illinois communities. Company vice president, John Brancaglione, takes pride in saying that many of those have been long-term relationships.
“I like to think that’s because we’re doing things right and doing good work,” Brancaglione said.
One of those long-lasting relationships has been with the city of Springfield, Ill. In 1988, PGAV worked with the city on the redevelopment of an abandoned industrial property, a former Fiat-Allis tractor plant along Stevenson Drive between Sixth Street and 11th Street. The site was 137 acres of dilapidated buildings and environmental contamination.
There was a development group that was willing to tackle the problem property but only if the city could assist with the extraordinary development costs. As with many large industrial sites, Brancaglione said, demolition, environmental remediation and installation of new roads and utilities would be necessary to convert the single-user property into a multi-tenant business park.
“There were multiple buildings on that property and extensive environmental contamination,” Brancaglione said. “Those are the untouchables — nobody wants them. It was an awful piece of property that had been vacant for a long time with buildings and environmental issues that meant that a) only somebody with a lot of guts was going to tackle it and b) there would have been no way on earth to make the numbers work unless you could offset the cost of the demolition and the environmental cleanup.”
With the assistance of PGAV, the city created the Park South TIF District in 1989. Today there are 49 businesses, agencies and organizations located in the park providing jobs for more than 1,000 people. Tenants range from Starbucks to Memorial Medical Physician Services and the FBI. Only 13 acres of the original 137 acres remain available for development. The assessed value of the district had gone from near zero to more than $78.6 million.
In December 2013 the city announced that it was closing out the Park South TIF district and distributing the surplus funds — nearly $6.5 million — to the various taxing bodies. The Springfield Public School District 186 received a check for $3.8 million.
“At the end of the day, the TIF district did what it was supposed to do,” Brancaglione said. “It’s time period was sun setting and because it had done so well, there was $6.5 million sitting in the bank. It’s pretty nice to create that much value and that many jobs out of something that was destined to be an ongoing detriment to the community in a very prominent location at a major entry.”