It has always been and continues to be a very special place in Highland Park. For many, it defines the City in a physical sense, and confers a shared sense of community for all Highland Park residents. The Central Business District is approximately 106 acres, home to about 450 businesses, and has a daytime population of close to 9,000. Within a 1.5 mile radius of the downtown the consumer population is 22,155, within a 4 mile radius it increases to 71,084, within a 7.5 mile radius it increases to 216,737, and within a 10 mile radius the consumer population increases to 519,900.
For more information concerning available properties in Highland Park, please contact the Office of Business Development at 847.926.1027.
Special Service Area 16 – Expired December 31, 2017
In 2007, the City approved a Special Service Area (SSA) for the Central Business District (CBD) for a three year period. The budget levy was $300,000 per year assessed on all impacted properties in the SSA boundary. That SSA expired in 2010 and was thereafter extended for another three years through December 31, 2013. In November 2013, the City Council approved a three-year extension of the Central Business District Special Service Area (SSA) Number 16 effective January 1, 2014 through 2017. The approved budget levy was $300,000 per year to be assessed on all impacted properties in the SSA boundary. At the request of the Alliance, the City levied $200,000 for tax year 2015.
In 2015, at the annual meeting of the Central Business District Property Owners Association (POA), the members voted to request that the City Council reduce the levy in Special Service Area (SSA) 16 from $300,000 to $230,000 for tax year 2016. This levy request was made because the Alliance’s cash balance was adequate to cover costs through 2016.
At the annual meeting of the Central Business District Property Owners Association (POA), the members voted to request that the City Council reduce the levy in Special Service Area (SSA) 16 from $230,000 to $0 for tax year 2017. This levy request was made because the Alliance’s cash balance was adequate to cover costs.
In December 2017, SSA 16 expired and it was not renewed as the Alliance had enough funds to operate as they continued to expend the existing fund balance of $123,500. In 2018, the Alliance continued to spend down the existing fund balance. As of May 31, 2018, the fund balance was $81,583. Based on the Alliance's rate of expenses, the remaining funds are expected to be exhausted by September 2019.
Special Service Area 16 was managed by a public-private partnership called the Alliance. The Alliance is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation that is tax exempt pursuant to Section 501(c) (6) of the Internal Revenue Code. The purpose of the Alliance is to “maintain and improve the economic vitality of the Highland Park, Illinois Central Business District through the retention, expansion and attraction of all types of commercial enterprise that are conducive to the maintenance and improvement of the quality of life in Highland Park”. According to the Bylaws, the Alliance is organized for the purpose of achieving the following objectives:
(a) Developing and implementing promotional, marketing, advertising, and branding campaigns;
(b) Strengthening the local economy through the retention and expansion of existing businesses, the attraction of new businesses, and the achievement of a viable tenant mix;
(c) Supporting, sponsoring, and participating in civic and cultural events;
(d) Encouraging and enhancing the quality of the business and community environment within the B-4 & B-5 Zoning Districts of the City;
In June of 2018, the POA requested that the City establish a new Central Business District SSA for a 3-year term, with an annual budget levy of $110,000, for the purpose of marketing, events and beautification to strengthen the long-term viability of the local economy, and to enhance the quality of the business community environment within the proposed special service area. The proposed boundaries mirrored those of SSA 16. In November 2018, the City approved SSA 19 as proposed. SSA 19 will be administered by the Downtown Highland Park Alliance. As previously indicated, based on the Alliance's rate of expenses, the remaining funds are expected to be exhausted by September 2019. The first payment to the Alliance through SSA 19 would coincide.
If the City determines that excess revenue exists in the Special Service Area Fund at the end of the life of the SSA, and if the option to abate a portion of the final tax levy for the Special Service Area is no longer available, then the excess funds would be refunded to the taxpayers of record for all parcels within the SSA.
Throughout the life of SSA 16 the City worked very closely with the Central Business District Property Owners Association. Working in concert with the property owners and business representatives, the City is committed to working diligently to continue to enhance the business climate in the Central Business District (CBD) and the community overall. The City will continue to work closely with the POA throughout the life of SSA 19.
Regular progress reports are provided to property owners and business owners regarding infrastructure improvements, maintenance efforts, business retention and other activities planned within the CBD.
Click below for available resources for the Central Business District: