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Community Development Briefing

On June 22nd the Community Development Committee met for a briefing by the city’s Community Development Department. While I am not one of the three named members to this committee, I attended because it’s important that new councilmen get the full picture prior to a development debate. Remember that all of the following is history. Today’s council will learn from these experiences as we approach new development opportunities. The following is a short summary of the facts, details, and questions I found
most interesting.

Des Plaines is a fully developed community. Therefore any new developments in town will actually be re-developments of existing property.

Metro-Square Outline
142 Condos
114,000 sq/ft of retail space
27,000 sq/ft of office space
471 car garage
Total Public/Private cost: $90m

Did the City give the developers $20m? No.
The only City-funded incentive given to the developer was in the form of a land-write-down. When a developer goes to some far western suburb and builds on a cornfield there are few obstacles. That same development in Des Plaines would be at a premium because of the high costs associated with re-development in a place with:

Many owners and properties to assemble,
Environmental concerns, and
Inadequate infrastructure.

A $9.5m land write-down was given to the developer to make our urban site more comparable to the cost of developing a cornfield.

Value of land before development: $1.4m
Value of new Metro-Square: $22m

In an effort to set the record straight, a number of sources have been commenting on the amount of retail space goining vacant in Metropolitan Square. When I drive down Market Street those storefronts seem empty, so how can this development be 75% occupied? There are about 97,000 sq/ft of retail space in Metro-Square, and only about 25,000 sq/ft is vacant. The problem is, those vacant 25k sq/ft represent about 43% of all the small storefronts in the development. In short, the whopping 40k sq/ft Shop & Save skews the statistics.

Des Plaines General Commercial Site Inventory
Type (# of sites) Square Feet
Office Space (91) 1.5m
Industrial (69) 2.2m
General Commercial (5) 85k
Retail (97) 296k
For Sale (12) 70k
Total (274) 4.2m

Local Retail Space Vacancies
Park Ridge – 5%
Palatine – 6.3%
Arlington Heights – 9.6%
Des Plaines – 10.8%
Prospect Heights – 21.1%
Mt. Prospect – 31.2%
(ComEd – April 1, 2009)

Potential development opportunities:
Oakton street corridor
Grazie Restaurant / Oakton Street corridor
Sims Bowl / Ellinwood Street corridor

Over the next few months, City Staff will be working with the elected officials to outline an economic development framework that will sustain any one staff person or Alderman. This is an exciting opportunity for the entire community to come together and work towards the same goal, which has to be:

Ensuring Des Plaines is the best value in the Northwest Suburbs; quality services at a reasonable (and low) cost to the taxpayers.

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