Mundelein Mayor Steve Lentz convened his annual Joint Committee of the Whole Meeting with the Board of Trustees, Economic Development Commission (EDC) and the Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) to address economic development activity in Mundelein on March 6, 2017.
At the summit, Mayor Lentz presented a comprehensive overview of economic development activity in Mundelein. “Informed residents are optimistic residents. By providing residents with information about Mundelein economics, we’re cultivating community partners in promoting our Village...We have much to be proud of here.”
In his presentation, Mayor Lentz reviewed recently completed and proposed infrastructure improvements. He highlighted the top-notch water and wastewater facilities, library, schools and park district in town and the fact that Mundelein ranks as the 57th safest city in the United States. He showed that the annual municipal payments per household are similar or lower than that of neighboring communities. Mundelein’s unemployment rate sits at 4.0, lower than Lake County’s overall rate of 5.8%. The housing market is strong and Mundelein homes are selling more quickly than other villages in Lake County.
One area of concern among many residents are the number of high profile vacancies throughout the Village and Mayor Lentz tackled this issue with data. He explained that staff members have inventoried all commercial square footage in the village. “Our vacancy numbers are rather skewed by the number of large square footage vacancies such as: US Music, Bradco, Archer Business Center, Hawley Commons, Peppers and Best Buy. The Village has over 9,021,358 square feet of Industrial, Office, and Commercial space. If we take the top 6 largest vacancies out of the equation, the percent of occupied space changes from 89.58% to 94.75%,” Mayor Lentz explained. He took the time to show how these numbers compare favorably to other towns in Lake County.
Mayor Lentz closed the meeting by thanking residents for their community engagement. “As you leave here tonight, I’d like to ask you to be ambassadors of optimism in the community. Let others know what you learned tonight. There’s real change on the horizon for Mundelein and we are all part of this great story!”
To view the entire 2017 Economic Summit, click here:
Key Points Addressed in “State of the Village” Overview with Mayor Lentz
▪Overall Vacancy-Currently, the Village is in a good position in terms of the number of vacancies within the Village. Overall, the occupancy rate for Industrial and Commercial spaces is 89.58% which is consistent with much of Lake County.
▪Largest Vacancies-Some properties, due to their size, have a disproportionate effect on the Village’s total occupancy percentages. The Village, despite the unique challenges that come with such large buildings, has made removing these largest vacancies a priority and expects the two largest vacancies to be removed from the vacancy list in the near future.
▪Industrial and Office –With an occupancy rate of 94.86%, the Village is doing exceptionally well at filling industrial and office spaces; however, this presents the unique challenge of finding appropriate ways to allow for existing businesses to expand and for new businesses to locate in Mundelein. Village Staff has found that ‘flex’ industrial space is currently in high demand as businesses shift their focus from the storefront to the Internet.
▪Commercial–With over 3.5 million square feet of commercial space, the Village is one of the largest providers of commercial space in Lake County. While this provides a great asset to the Village, it also presents its challenges. For one, it means that there needs to be enough market demand to occupy all the space. Secondly, it may mean that some spaces are appropriately sized, but lack visibility or other certain characteristics to be attractive to tenants. The 2016 occupancy rate for these commercial spaces (82%) is not substantially different than other Lake County communities; however, it suggests that a continuing effort by the Village to fill these spaces is necessary.
▪Economic development in the municipal arena is a function of time. Progress takes time. Mundelein has developed a “special emphasis list” targeting the most highly visible properties. Many high profile vacancies in town are generating interest among developers.
▪Mundelein’s excellent schools play a major role in the Village’s economic development and its brand.
▪As a result of a win-win economic incentive deal, the Hawley Lake Plaza renovation is complete. New tenants include: In and Out BBQ, Eating Hub and Verizon. Also, Mundelein welcomed a second Jewel Osco store in the former Dominick’s location in Longmeadow Commons. Panera Bread is poised to open in spring of 2017.
▪Mundelein’s demographics are robust and its infrastructure is among the strongest in Lake County. Mundelein has the lowest unemployment in Lake County, has a median age of 35.5, and within 10 minutes of Mundelein’s center point there are 78,286 people, 27,674 households, and a median household income of $92,686.
▪Recently completed residential projects include: Coves of Mundelein apartments, Fairhaven Crossing apartments, Lake Ridge Townhomes.
▪Proposed projects: Mega Realty-Lot 5 (across from Village Hall)-Mixed-Use development: First floor commercial, Upper stories apartments; Maple Hill 65-lot single family homes and a commercial development; MJS Development-5 acres commercial and 16 acres residential development; downtown senior housing-80-unit income assisted senior housing and 3,000 sf commercial space; North Lake Façade Improvement Project, Gateway Signage Project, and Downtown North Implementation Plan.
▪Sales receipts are a good indicator of how a municipality’s economy is performing. In calendar year 2016, the Village received over $8.8 million in sales taxes; 1% higher than 2015, and the highest annual sales taxes collected since 2007. The more sales tax that is collected, the less property taxes are needed to operate Village services.
▪Mundelein’s Business Incentive Grant (BIG) program continues to exceed expectations. The Board of Trustees approved another $100,000 in grant funds for businesses to use to improve their properties and this program will continue to be marketed and enhanced. To date, 17 businesses have received BIG Program awards, $200,638 has been awarded through the BIG Program, and $621,708 has been invested into improvements by recipients as a result of the program.
▪The Building Department along with the Customer Service Department launched an expedited Business Permit program promising a 5-day turnaround time on minor permits. Thus far, the program has a 97% success rate and the average days to approve the permit: 1.49.
▪Economic Development Process: Always involves three entities: 1. Business 2. Landlord/Seller 3. Government. Ultimately, the business and the landlord/seller must come to terms. Free enterprise rules the day, not the government.
▪In 2016, 41 new businesses opened, 6 businesses expanded, 14 businesses changed ownership/name, and 5 relocated within the Village.
▪Business Challenges: tracking business closings, encouraging property owners/businesses to improve spaces and finding spaces that suit the needs of potential tenants.
▪Mundelein is committed to furthering its brand. The Village is guided by its Brand Promise: “Mundelein will be Central Lake County’s premier location for entrepreneurs and known as a welcoming community.”
▪Forward Thinking/Vision: Mundelein’s vision for the community is based on well-researched and consultant-generated planning documents including:
Downtown Master Plan
▪Economic Development Incentives available: Sales Tax Sharing, Property Tax Reimbursement, Tax Increment Financing (TIF), Property Enhancement Grant Program