City sees Ravinia district as ‘hidden treasure’
Baker Boys Bakery co-owners Pete Rauser (center) and Jordan Rappaport (left) work on items for customers on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, at the business in Highland Park. On the right is employee Matt Korman. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 29, 2012 8:41AM
HIGHLAND PARK — Efforts to revitalize the Ravinia Business District along Roger Williams Avenue were slowed by the economic downturn, but are now starting to take shape.
The recession hit shortly after the city of Highland Park created the Ravinia Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district to generate funds for public improvements and prevent the area from becoming blighted.
Now, a vision for creating a vibrant retail and dining district in the backyard of the Ravinia Festival is starting to come into focus. A team from the Hitchcock Design Group will conduct a second open house at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5 to present their design concepts. Their study, conducted with Nicholas Associates and Strand Associates, also is aimed at quantifying the long-term costs of streetscaping and the dollars needed for underground utility improvements.
“We created the Tax Increment Financing District there and immediately went into recession,” said City Manager David Knapp, of the city’s only TIF, which was established in 2005. “So the money isn’t there. You are counting on the rising value of property to generate an increment. It is going to take a long time, but the money will eventually build up in those accounts and we will be able to make improvements to the streetscape and make it more attractive. It is kind of a hidden treasure there.”
The open house will take place in council chambers, 1707 St. Johns Ave., Highland Park.