Oak Park Village Board approves TIF cash, loan for Sugar Beet Co-op

Village trustees have signed off on a tax increment financing deal with the Sugar Beet Co-op that will award the forthcoming grocer with a $250,000 subsidy if it can raise $800,000 in member loans.

Under the agreement, approved at the board’s July 21 meeting, the village would also co-sign with Sugar Beet for a $250,000 line of credit “for use as a contingency” if necessary, with oversight from the village.

“I thought that if we took this route, it would loosen up some of their capital, so to speak,” said John Hedges, interim executive director of the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation. The public funding — which will come out of the Madison Street TIF District — and the private loan will go toward construction costs and operating expenses, respectively.

Sugar Beet, a member-owned store that will sell locally-sourced foods, is aiming to open its doors at 812 Madison Street sometime early next year.

The non-profit cooperative has until the end of 2015 to meet the loan benchmark, but the store expects to meet that goal by October, when it hopes to begin build out of the 6,000-square-foot retail space, said Sugar Beet board member Greg Marsey.

Marsey told the board that Sugar Beet has raised “around half” of the requisite loans to meet the terms of the agreement. The cooperative currently has 560 members, he said.

In approving the funding agreement, the board floated the idea of adding a caveat that the store return some or all of the TIF subsidy back into the Madison Street coffers someday down the road.

“This is right at the nexus of where the village is heading toward investing a lot of its resources,” said Trustee Salzman. “Once Sugar Beet opens up … they are going to be part of a larger Madison Street business community.”

While no specific terms were set regarding how Sugar Beet would repay the subsidy, Marsey said that the group was open to idea.

“We’d like to say yes to it as much as we can,” he said.

Oak Park Village Board: Sugar Beet Agenda item

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