County amends TIF deal to add downtown parking in Libertville

Libertyville’s search for more downtown parking received a boost Tuesday when the Lake County Board agreed to allow the village to explore Tax Increment Financing District options on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue.

The county board approved an amendment to a 28-year-old intergovernmental agreement between the two parties that had limited parking improvements in the TIF district to the east side of the roadway, which runs through the heart of downtown Libertyville.

Libertyville officials have been struggling to find extra spaces with more restaurants opening in the business district, bringing with them an increase in motorists who not only need to park but for longer periods.

The original TIF agreement between the village and the county was established in December 1986, with a focus on downtown redevelopment. The arrangement was set to expire in 2009 but was extended to December 2021.

According to language in the amendment approved Tuesday, the extension was agreed upon in 2008 to allow the village to “accomplish various parking improvements that would enhance the downtown and ensure long-term liability.”

Additional passages in the amendment list several parking options reportedly being explored by the village based on studies conducted by Rich & Associates and preliminary design and construction estimates by Walker Parking Consultants:

• Reconstruction of 130 surface parking spaces on the west side of Milwaukee between Cook and Lake streets at an estimated cost of $525,000 to $1 million;

• Construction of an approximate 300-space parking deck in a location not yet determined on the east or west side of Milwaukee at an estimated cost of $7 million;

• Reconstruction of surface parking spaces located on the east or west side of Milwaukee between Cook and School streets, or on the north side of Lake Street, at an estimated cost of $450,000. This plan includes a contingency for burying overhead utility lines in the range of $500,000 to $1 million;

• Purchase of future land or easement acquisition on the east or west side of Milwaukee Avenue for the parking improvements in the range of $3 million to $5 million.

Libertyville’s attempts to regulate downtown parking resulted in minor changes to zoning regulations approved by the Village Board late last month, but officials didn’t enact a proposal to require business owners to add more parking spaces when they set up a new use in a building, like changing a retail store to a restaurant.

The current roster of free parking in the village includes a 360-space garage on the southeast corner of Brainerd Avenue and Lake Street, a structure that does not allow parking for users of the nearby Metra station.

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