Westfield Old Orchard Business District Designation to Bring Exciting Changes That Create a Best-In-Class North Shore Destination
On March 7, 2022, the Skokie Village Board approved the designation of Westfield Old Orchard shopping center, the Village’s premiere sales tax generator, as an official Business District.
This decision followed a months-long, public project review and approval process. An initial presentation was made at the December 6, 2021 Village Board meeting, followed by a public hearing at the January 18, 2022 Village Board meeting as well as review, consideration and public comment at both the February 7 and March 7, 2022 Village Board meetings.
With this designation, Westfield Old Orchard becomes one of more than 220 Business Districts in the State of Illinois, with the sales tax rate at the shopping center to be increased by one percent no earlier than July 2022.
“Westfield Old Orchard is an important asset to the Village of Skokie, with sales and property taxes from the center providing direct financial benefits for Village services as well as the Skokie Public Library, Skokie Park District, local elementary, high school and community college school districts and other taxing bodies,” said Mayor George Van Dusen. “In 1990, Village leaders made a bold decision to invest in improvements at Old Orchard that included the parking garage adjacent to Nordstrom which was pivotal to the retailer’s decision to locate at Old Orchard instead of other nearby centers. At the same time, the Village Board pledged to freeze property taxes at $15.4 million annually for at least five years – a pledge that has now been upheld for more than 30 years due to the Village’s continued, strategic economic development and prudent budgeting. These forward-thinking moves made for a great quality of life in our community while also contributing to the area’s regional standing, drawing people from around the Midwest to Skokie and surrounding communities, supporting their economies, too. The new one percent tax continues this historic pattern of wise investment to benefit Skokie and the entire region.”
The property tax burden at Old Orchard from Cook County, school districts and other taxing bodies accounts for 38% of tenant expense which is significantly higher than the national industry average of 12%, posing challenges to significant capital investment. “Not only is Westfield Old Orchard the Village’s premiere sales tax generator, it is also a destination driver that brings people and additional businesses to Skokie” said Village Manager John Lockerby. “Now is the time to position Old Orchard’s future considering the changing retail environment in our region as well as increasing internet shopping trends.”
All revenues generated from the designation of Westfield Old Orchard as a Business District will be directly reinvested by Westfield in urgently-needed upgrades to the shopping center’s infrastructure, customer amenities and overall ambience to ensure long-term business success and continued economic vitality. In addition to generating essential tax revenue, Westfield Old Orchard is Skokie’s largest private sector source of employment, creating jobs for approximately 3,200 area residents.
“As we emerge from the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the retail environment continues to change so rapidly, we know businesses must transform to meet evolving customer expectations,” said Serge Khalimsky, Westfield Old Orchard’s General Manager. “At Westfield Old Orchard, we are passionate about the opportunity to invest in the center’s infrastructure, new uses and diverse offerings to create a best-in-class destination on the North Shore.”
Click here to see Mayor Van Dusen's February 17, 2022 Letter to the Editor of the Chicago Tribune
Click here to see Frequently asked Questions regarding the proposed Old Orchard Business District
Click here to see letter of support from Chicago's North Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau
Click here to see letter of support from the Skokie Chamber of Commerce & Industry
See more information about Skokie's decades-long history of progressive, successful economic development.