Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin today asked the Illinois House Revenue Committee to quickly extend the River Edge Redevelopment Zone Historic Tax Credit because it has the potential to create hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in economic development for the state’s second-largest city.
Testifying in Springfield on his second full day in office, Irvin joined Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora -- the sponsor of the River Edge Historic Tax Credit -- in asking the committee for an extension of the credit through 2022.
The credit provides a state income-tax credit equal to 25 percent of a project’s qualified expenditures to owners of certified historic structures located within River Edge Redevelopment Zones (Aurora, East St. Louis, Elgin, Peoria and Rockford) who undertake certified rehabilitations during the taxable year.
"During my campaign for Mayor, one of my main platforms was that I would focus the first 100 days on controlling crime, improving education and fostering economic development," Irvin said. "The integrity and quality of Aurora’s 180-year-old downtown will help all in all three of these areas. That’s why we need an extension of this historic tax credit."
The legislation is included in House Bill 2972 and Senate Bill 1783. The Senate has already passed the extension and now the bill is awaiting action in the House. Besides Chapa LaVia, sponsors include Senator Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, and Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, a former Aurora alderman.
"In Aurora, the River Edge zone encompasses 2.5 square miles and generally consists of the Downtown, commercial and industrial corridors along the Fox River. Aurora has been in competition with other towns in the Chicago area for the development and redevelopment of older, historic properties. Often times property owners and developers in Aurora cannot make the rehabilitation of older properties economically feasible because the rehabilitation can often times equal the cost of new construction, thereby narrowing the number of interested, dedicated parties," Mayor Irvin said.
"Also, in communities with similar characteristics as Aurora, the lease/sale rates that property owners can get in the market is less than in many other communities. And third, with construction costs a constant in the region, and coupling these sale/lease rates in Aurora, this gap puts the rehabilitation of older buildings in cities such as Aurora at a disadvantage," said Irvin.
In Aurora, one success story from the River Edge Credit is St. Charles Senior Living, a rehabilitated, 60-unit independent living facility. Formerly St. Charles Hospital, the historic Art Deco building was converted to modern senior housing as part of a $24 million redevelopment that began in February 2016. Designed by Wybe J. Van der Meer, the former hospital was completed in 1932, with additional renovations made to the interior of the structure in the decades that followed. Until the redevelopment, the building had been vacant since 2010, the year it was named to the National Register of Historic Places.
"Several other major downtown projects are in progress, but they all depend on the extension of the River Edge Historic Tax Credit," said Irvin.
The Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to end on May 30.