Shodeen Update

City Council COW (8/11/20) passed all measures furthering the Shodeen apartments 8-6. The 8 aldermen voting yes, in favor of the project: Baerren, Beck, Cerone, Wolff, Chanzit, O’Brien, Russotto, McFadden

No votes: Callahan, Uher, Meitzler, Malay, Miller, Knopp

You can watch it here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rYNV_FWfVEA (watching it at playback speed 1.5 makes it go faster)

Notable discussion points: 

The aldermen supporting the project (led by City Administrator Laura Newman) said the citizens who are against it “don’t understand it”, are listening to “misinformation” (Baerren, Wolff, O’Brien), and are the complainers, while the majority of Batavia wants it because they want a vibrant downtown (Russotto).  Baerren doesn’t see a parking problem downtown (it’s a misinformation problem) and thinks “people just have to walk farther”. Chanzit and McFadden from the start have thought it will be a huge success.

The NO votes set the record straight against the real misinformation (start 1:44:50 with Callahan) and pointed out there will be NO revenue for the City and other taxing bodies for 23 years, and that the School District weighed the information and voted against it (Callahan). Malay noted the towns with big apartments that people hated at first but now love have one thing in common: a nearby train station, and not one constituent he’s talked to supports the project. Meitzler cited ever-changing parameters and ever-increasing costs for his NO. Callahan added he wants us to “be us” and not like every other city. Uher pointed out after the tenants park, we’ll have LESS parking downtown and wants smaller scale. Miller, as a project manager, sees the economic benefits during construction but doesn’t want to change the character of the town with a project that is too big and doesn’t fit Batavia. Knopp talked to many citizens (not listening to “social media”), said the project is just too big, and says “Shodeen”, not “Batavia”.

The most baffling: Beck acknowledged it doesn’t have public support, is out of character, doesn’t have enough parking, and construction can disrupt existing businesses, but voted YES anyway.  Cerone had concerns too, but voted YES as well.

The changes Shodeen wanted—drawing up plans now at City expense and sales tax abatement—did not get put into the RDA.

It now goes to a Monday night City Council meeting for final approval of the COW’s recommendations.

It also has to go to the Joint Review Board, a board made up of representatives from all the taxing bodies. A negative recommendation from them requires a 2/3 vote (10/14) of Council to override. Council doesn’t currently have the votes to override. We know the School District will vote NO, but will have to see about the others.

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Shodeen Apartments on Tuesday Agenda

Update here.

Tuesday night, 8/11/20, 7pm, the Batavia City Council Committee of the Whole (COW) will be discussing approval of a new Redevelopment Agreement (RDA) and TIF District for the massive 6-story Shodeen apartment complex in the heart of downtown Batavia.

The Batavia City Council will be selling roughly 3/4 of a city block they have spent millions of taxpayer dollars on, to Shodeen for $10. Then they will give Shodeen $16 million in General Obligation bonds (plus interest), backed by your tax dollars, to build a 2-story “public” parking garage with 333 parking spaces that will supposedly provide parking for the tenants of the 186 luxury apartments, as well as tenants and customers of the 14,000 sq ft of new retail space, and 2400 sq ft of office space. Oh, and they’ll be tearing down the city’s parking deck, destroying over 200 current parking spaces between the deck and adjacent lots. Shodeen will pay for 0 —that’s ZERO— parking spaces for his tenants, who will have to pay $30/mo. for an overnight parking pass for the “public” garage that anyone living in the downtown area can also purchase. 

Does this sound like a good deal for citizens? But wait! There’s more: Continue reading

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Public Hearing, Shodeen Project — Again

Update: The Plan Commission did not approve point  “5. The project design provides for safe and efficient provision of public services. Finding: The project would increase the amount of public parking in the downtown and reduce the deficit of all parking in the vicinity.” They voted 3-3, a tie when a majority was needed to pass, but everything else passed, as did the project overall. The Commission really had their hands tied because the Council had already changed the zoning requirements for this project, so of course the project would meet the new requirements. The Council did away with height and mass restrictions and parking requirements, rendering the Commission’s job pretty much one of picking colors and materials. The Commission is advisory only, and the Council can and has overridden the Plan Commission’s concerns. Frankly, it was surprising  point 5 was even offered for the Plan Commission’s consideration. 

Tonight, Wednesday, 7:00pm, is a public hearing before the Plan Commission for Shodeen’s 1 N Washington apartment complex. The meeting is virtual, so you can attend from the comfort of your own home. Agenda with documents and instructions on how to attend can be found here:  https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_07012020-1572?html=true

The Plan Commission voted against the project initially, but was overruled by the City Council. There’s not really anything they can do, because the City Council will push it through no matter what. But if you comment during the public hearing, the Council won’t be able to say later, “No citizens objected.”

To get the support of a majority of the aldermen (9 of the 14), Shodeen had to put the retail back on Wilson St.  What Shodeen before claimed was not financially feasible, has suddenly become feasible again. The new plan calls for 14,180 sq ft of retail space on the ground floor portions of the development on Wilson and River Streets, 2,370 sq ft of office space above the retail along River, 91 2-br apartments, 95 1-br apartments, and just 333 parking spaces in the “public” parking garage the City will issue $16 million in bonds to build.

If you read the agenda document, you will see what the Plan Commission is to rule on.

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City Council Putting Cart Before Horse…Again

One North Washington (Shodeen apartments) is on hold. The 13-year TIF extension was voted down by the School Board, killing the extension, effectively killing the project because Shodeen needs 20-year bonds. BUT the project refuses to die. Now the City Council is considering dismantling the TIF district they created for Shodeen, and creating a new TIF for Shodeen. But that may not be possible (they can hardly argue “blight” when all those “blighted” properties have been leveled). Staff has been instructed to investigate a new TIF’s feasibility. NO DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE ON A NEW TIF. So what’s puzzling is the rush to sign new contracts related to Shodeen.

Items of concern on tonight’s agenda:

15. RESOLUTION 20-079-R: Authorizing a Contract with WGI, Inc. to Provide Parking Consultant Review Services on behalf of the City for One Washington Place https://cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/15177?fileID=11317

A summary: This is a contract for $20,500 for 3rd party review of the proposed parking garage design–understandable IF the project were going through. There is a 10% retainer ($2050) for what could be nothing. 4 aldermen recognized it was putting the cart before the horse and voted NO. The other 9 voted YES (Meitzler absent) to bring it for final approval tonight at 7:30pm.

Aldermen voting NO: Callahan, Uher, Cerone, Knopp

16. RESOLUTION 20-073-R: Execution of an Independent Contractor Agreement for Economic Development Consultant https://cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/15178?fileID=11318

A summary: This is a $3,000/month contract with no hours of service outlined (as was brought up by an alderman). The contract says, “The specific consulting services to be performed by the Consultant shall be related to establishment of a new TIF that includes the One Washington Place redevelopment project (the “Project”) unless additional services are requested by the City Administrator or Director of Community and Economic Development and agreed to by the Consultant.”  The argument being made is the coronavirus crisis has curtailed the hiring of a Business Development Manager to take the place of an Economic Development Consultant, in which capacity Chris Aiston has been working for a number of years. Aiston, along with former City Administrator Bill McGrath, brought Shodeen to Batavia, and at every appearance before the City Council, Aiston, at least to some, seemed to argue more for Shodeen than for the citizens’ interests. Aiston was supposed to have retired Memorial Day, but this will keep him on, primarily to create a new TIF for Shodeen, per contract. It was approved at COW unanimously, with aldermen arguing Aiston can be consulted on other projects that may come up until a Business Development Manager is hired. City Administrator Laura Newman made it clear that there will be a team of 3 (including herself) to work on new projects, and that Aiston will primarily be concerned with the TIF.

If you have any thoughts to share with the City Council, you can email the Council through https://www.cityofbatavia.net/233/City-Council-Committee-of-the-Whole

Instructions on how to listen in to the meeting can be found at the top of the agenda here: https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_06012020-1556?html=true

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Attend the School Board Meeting Virtually

From the BPS101 website:

…the District has determined that the March 24th meeting will be held virtually. The decision was made based on current guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health to take social distancing measures.

The public is welcome to participate in this meeting. Options for the public include:

Listening to the meeting live by calling (662) 532-5431 PIN: ‪564 110 247#‬

Public comment is allowed at the beginning of our Board meetings. Comments are limited to three minutes per person. If you would like to participate:

  • Email the superintendent at lisa.hichens@bps101.netwith your comments. They will be read at the meeting OR
  • The Board President will also ask for public comments during the virtual meeting, but to ensure that you are heard, it is recommended that you email  lisa.hichens@bps101.net with your intent to comment.
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Shodeen TIF on Batavia SCHOOL BOARD Agenda

Update: The School Board voted down the TIF extension, effectively killing any chance to extend the TIF.

The School Board is not taking a break for the coronavirus and has on its 7:00pm, Tuesday night (3/24) Agenda the Shodeeen TIF extension. If the School Board votes against extending the TIF district an extra 12 years (35 years total), the TIF extension option dies and the City Council will have to do something else to keep their pet project going (like undoing the TIF and redoing it for 23 years, which is more complicated).

The School Board voted against the original TIF formation, but TIF district creation does not require their consent, only extension does. The School Board had thought the City underestimated the number of students the apartments would produce, and the school district would be burdened with educating the students without Shodeen paying his fair share for them.

Usually about 2/3 (67%) of our property taxes go to the school district. In a TIF district, tax dollars get diverted from all the many taxing bodies and go to the City alone, which the City then uses to redevelop a “blighted” area, often giving public tax dollars to private developers (like Shodeen). There are some exceptions for the school district: under law, Shodeen’s taxes would have to pay the cost per student (around $12,500 when last mentioned), up to 40% of the apartments’ property tax (excluding the retail space property tax). So BPS101 would receive 0-<40% of the tax dollars from Shodeen instead of 67%, and the other non-City taxing bodies get nothing…for 23 years, or if extended, 35 years.

We all pay taxes to the school district, whether we have children in it or not; it’s part of our societal obligation. Shodeen is being given a pass on his obligation with this TIF district. His taxes will go to pay the bonds that will build his parking garage, a “public” garage that his tenants will use, that doesn’t even have enough parking spaces to meet code for his tenants. Is it fair wealthy Shodeen gets his property taxes reinvested in his property, while the rest of us poorer folks cannot do the same, all the while shortchanging the institutions that rely on our taxes?

Please contact the School Board (button at right) and let them know how you would like them, as your elected representatives, to vote on this. Should they again vote NO to the TIF?

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City Council Votes to Extend Shodeen TIF

The City Council COW passed the Shodeen TIF extension 9-4 on 3/3/20. They’re sticking with the project. The apartments will be built if all the taxing bodies agree to the extension, if the legislature passes the extension, and Shodeen gets a bank to finance his portion:

—Yes: O’Brien, Wolff, McFadden, Chanzit, Knopp, Miller, Russotto, Beck, Baerren

—No: Callahan, Cerone, Uher, Malay

—Absent: Meitzler

The full City Council passed it 9-5 on 3/16/20:

—Yes: Miller, Russotto, Beck, Chanzit, Wolff, Baerren, O’Brien, Cerone, McFadden

—No: Knopp, Callahan, Meitzler, Malay, Uher

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Shodeen Apartments Back on the Table

Shodeen’s 1 North Washington project has come back, yet again, to the City Council and is on Tuesday night’s COW agenda.

Apparently, Shodeen ran into trouble getting a loan for the apartments because the TIF District is set to expire before the $16 million bonds do. After Shodeen’s delays and then the soil contamination delay, the expiration dates’ timing is no surprise, but is suddenly now a problem.

The options they are looking at are:

Continue reading

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$27 Million Rec Center Referendum March 17

The Batavia Park District has a referendum on the ballot for the March 17, 2020 General Primary (early voting has started at the Kane County Clerk’s Office ONLY; widespread early voting begins March 3). They are asking taxpayers to approve $27 million in bonds to build a Batavia Activities and Recreation Center (BARC). The bonds are estimated to cost the owner of a $300,000 home $178/yr in additional taxes for 20 years. Plus there will be more taxes to operate it (their optimistic pro forma has it 91% funded by user fees, rising to 93% in 6 years–never 100%). Then there will be more cost to use it.

Batavia Park District’s referendum information here: https://bataviaparks.org/2020-referendum .  Fee schedule here, beginning on p. 51 (53/62): https://bataviaparks.org/upload/BARCBusinessPlan_.pdf   NOTE: be sure to add $178 (or whatever your bond share will be, roughly $60 per $100,000 property value) to the annual fee costs. So the $700 annual Family Pass Combo is really $700 + $178 = $878 + ? taxes to cover what fees do not.

The BARC would be located on the east side of the river, off of Rt. 25, just south of Funway. It would have an 8-lane lap pool, 1 indoor artificial turf field, 1 multi-purpose (e.g., basketball) court, walking/running track, group wellness/fitness area (with limited cardio equipment), a warming kitchen, and meeting rooms. It is not designed to be a drop-in gym like XSport Fitness. Hours of availability for paid general use vs. Park District programming and rentals have not been specified as of this writing.

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Marijuana Going to Referendum

After being divided 10-4, favoring allowing marijuana dispensaries (“pot shops”), the Batavia City Council decided to put the issue to referendum on the November 2020 ballot. Kudos to the Council for letting the people decide.

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