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Arl Hts is playing ball again with the Bears?

Let me cut to the chase. Arl Hts realizes that the Bears will generate more tax revenue and ancillary business for the village than alternate uses (plus will not overburden their school system as residential development would).

They also realize, that unless they are reasonable about the real estate tax they charge, the Bears will bail and stay in Chicago. This latest proposal shows good progress and here I go...foot in the first real step towards an effective negotiation to make sure the Bears end up in the Burbs.

If I were to bet, I'd bet the Bears will end up in Arl Hts.

Arlington Heights proposes a tax cut compromise for the possible Chicago Bears suburban stadium site


March 18, 2024

Arlington Heights village officials have proposed a compromise over the Chicago Bears’ property tax for the site of a potential domed stadium in the suburb that would significantly cut the team’s tax bill.

In an effort to break the impasse between the Bears and local school districts over the property tax bill on the former Arlington International Racecourse site, the village proposed an agreement to accept the Cook County Board of Review’s assessed value of $124.7 million for the 2023 and 2024 tax years.

The property would be assessed at the 25% commercial rate for half of 2023 and the 10% vacant property rate for the other half, resulting in a total tax liability of $6.3 million, according to Arlington Heights’ Feb. 27 proposal, which the village released publicly late Monday after an open records request by the Tribune.

For the 2024 tax year, the property would be assessed at the 10% rate, resulting in a tax bill of $3.6 million, according to the proposal. Both figures would be a big cut from taxes currently estimated to be near $10 million.

After that, the Bears and the school districts would agree to enter into good-faith negotiations over assessments, with increases guaranteed to be at least 3% but no more than 10% per year, according to the village proposal.

The village hadn’t gotten a response yet from the team nor Arlington Heights-based Township High School District 214 and Palatine-based Township High School District 211, along with feeder Palatine Community Consolidated School District 15, which draw 60% of the property taxes from the site.

The proposal comes as the Bears last week announced they would commit $2 billion toward a publicly owned domed stadium to replace Soldier Field on Chicago’s lakefront. The team told the village they remain interested in the Arlington Park site, but their focus has shifted to sites in Chicago.

Village Manager Randy Recklaus disclosed the proposal Monday night at the Village Board meeting. He also shared a slide that showed 2021 property tax bills at other developed sites, including $2.7 million for Wrigley Field, $6.1 million for the United Center, and $4.5 million for the vacant but built-out and comparably sized Sears campus in Hoffman Estates.

In a letter to the team and the school districts, Recklaus wrote that the offer would achieve the team’s goal of reducing its costs this year and next while allowing the school districts increased assessments in future years before a long-term tax deal is negotiated.

Tax officials previously denied the Bears’ request to assess the property at 10% this year, but suggested the 10% rate is likely to apply next year since the Bears demolished the grandstand and other structures on the site.

A letter from Recklaus to the Bears and the school districts stated that tax discussions had come to a “standstill,” and pointed out that the Cook County assessor valued similar properties at a fraction of the Bears’ assessment.

“While the (team) needs to pay their fair share of taxes before, during and after construction, we should all agree that the community should not expect a windfall before construction even begins,” Recklaus wrote. Noting that the usual state and county assessment procedures are inadequate for such a unique project, he added, “This suggests a settlement will be necessary.”

Recklaus noted that discussions led to tentative solutions on multiple issues, including a possible framework for long-term site taxation and a limit on the number of schoolchildren produced by potential housing development on the site.

The school districts did not immediately comment on the proposal. The Bears, who plan to appeal the Board of Review’s decision of assessed value, issued a terse one-sentence statement: “Our focus is on the City of Chicago project at this time.”

Village Mayor Tom Hayes said that, like the Arlington Heights proposal, the team’s Chicago proposal is not a done deal.

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