Rogers Park Community Seeks Special Service Area for Sheridan Road
Loyola Neighborhood News: Lake Shore Campus - V3, I1
On July 1, 2011, Rogers Park Business Alliance (RPBA) submitted an application to the City of Chicago for a new Special Service Area (SSA) designation on Sheridan Road from Devon to Farwell.
Currently, the application for the SSA is being reviewed by the City of Chicago’s Department of Housing and Economic Development. An establishment ordinance for the new SSA will be introduced to City Council on November 9, 2011.
The idea for a SSA came from the Sheridan Road planning process led by Rogers Park community members in 2010. With the support of RPBA, an 18-person steering committee made up of residents, business owners and other stakeholders met for a year to identify areas for improvement on Sheridan Road through design and appearance, shopping mix, and transportation and safety.
The committee presented 36 recommendations at a community meeting in November 2010 and asked the community to prioritize them. One of the prioritized recommendations was to explore creating a SSA on Sheridan Road in order to provide a consistent source of funding for making improvements to the public way.
Sheridan Road is a gateway to Rogers Park and the City of Chicago. In addition, Loyola University Chicago’s Lake Shore Campus is adjacent to the major thoroughfare, making it an important corridor for both the neighborhood and the city. Creating a SSA on the street will provide financial resources and district management to support the current businesses, attract new business to the district, and make the street a safe place for pedestrians to shop.
A Special Service Area is a locally controlled and driven economic development tool, which is administered and overseen by a commission made up of local property owners, business owners, residents and other stakeholders. More than 1,200 SSA districts operate nationally; there are over 40 active SSAs in the City of Chicago that use funds generated by an additional property tax to create and maintain attractive, clean and safe communities. A SSA is a taxing district, and as such, needs an organization to administer and manage the programs and services. SSAs are overseen by the City of Chicago and managed by a local non-profit, in this case Rogers Park Business Alliance.
In January 2011, RPBA created an advisory committee made up of property and business owners who would be affected by the potential SSA to study a new designation. The committee met four times over a five-month period and worked through programs and services the SSA would provide, the annual budget, tax rate, tax cap and boundaries. Based on advisory committee work and community feedback, the boundaries included in the SSA application are along Sheridan Road, from Devon to Farwell. The new SSA will have an annual budget of approximately $81,000 generated through a property tax levy of .37% on properties within the SSA boundaries. Two community meetings with the City of Chicago, PLACE Consulting, Sheridan SSA Steering Committee members, and RPBA were held on June 20 and July 6, 2011 to present information about SSAs in general and the specific proposal to create a SSA on Sheridan Road.
In addition to funds generated through the tax levy, Loyola University Chicago will enter into a legally binding agreement with RPBA to contribute an additional amount to account for the tax exempt properties it owns in the SSA.
While the application process continues to move forward with the City of Chicago, RPBA is looking for seven commissioners to serve a three-year term on the Sheridan Road SSA Commission. Some of the responsibilities of the commissioners are to set yearly programs and budget. To be a commissioner, one should own property, work, or live within the SSA boundaries. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a commissioner, please contact Katrina Balog at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773.508.5885 for application materials.
Written by Katrina Balog, Rogers Park Business Alliance