County Commission approves creation of 2 TIFs to support business districts

Photo courtesy of the Wayne County Commission. While Wayne County Commission Chairman Gary Woronchak (right) looks on, Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. explains to the commission’s Committee on Economic Development the benefits of an agreement between the city and county to provide funding for improvements in two business districts.

Photo courtesy of the Wayne County Commission. While Wayne County Commission Chairman Gary Woronchak (right) looks on, Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. explains to the commission’s Committee on Economic Development the benefits of an agreement between the city and county to provide funding for improvements in two business districts.

Wayne County and the city of Dearborn are teaming to direct money to two of the city’s most active business districts.

The County Commission on May 7 approved tax increment financing districts for the Warren Avenue and Dix-Vernor business communities.

“This is a great way to help two successful business districts continue to thrive through various infrastructure projects,” said Commission Chairman Gary Woronchak (D-Dearborn). “And it’s a great way for Wayne County and the city of Dearborn to work together for the greater good.”

An intergovernmental agreement between the county and city to create the districts is required because Warren Avenue, Dix Avenue and Vernor Highway are county-owned roads, and because some property tax money will be diverted from both the city and county to benefit the business areas.

In tax increment financing – or TIF – districts, incremental increases in property tax revenues are “captured” and diverted to a fund earmarked for structural improvements within the districts’ boundaries.

Boards will be established to oversee the projects proposed in each district using the funds. Examples of upgrades in other TIF districts include on- and off-street parking; sidewalk and road improvements; and aesthetic upgrades like flower boxes, benches and ornamental streetlights.

Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr., along with Woronchak, gave testimony on the proposed intergovernmental agreement at the April 28 meeting of the commission’s Committee on Economic Development. The committee forwarded the matter to the full commission for final approval.

“This could be a model that could be replicated in other parts of the country,” O’Reilly told committee members. “It creates a chance for the business people in the district to think about how they can grow and enhance the businesses.”

Dearborn already uses a similar concept with downtown development authorities in its east and west end downtown districts along Michigan Avenue.

The agreement between the county and city is for 30 years with a 10-year option to renew. The Dearborn City Council unanimously approved the plan Jan. 13.

Both business districts are thriving, primarily with Arab-American merchants.

The Warren Avenue district, in the northeast section of the city, stretches from Greenfield Road to Lonyo Avenue, and O’Reilly told the committee that the city of Detroit also has worked hard to improve the Warren Avenue business district west of Greenfield in the Warrendale neighborhood.

The Dix-Vernor district is in the heart of the city’s historic South End, near the Ford Motor Co. Rouge Complex. It stretches along Dix Avenue from Industrial to Eagle streets, and Vernor Highway between Industrial Street and Riverside Drive.

O’Reilly said that when the city and county worked together on a previous project, to reduce the width of the angled Dix-Vernor intersection from 100 feet to 40, the area became much safer for the area’s many pedestrians.