The village will soon pay a local auto repair shop a half of a million dollars from a TIF fund to reimburse part of the cost incurred by the owner in redeveloping his Harlem Avenue shop.

 Rod Nunley, the owner of Elite Tire, 35 S. Harlem Ave., will get $487,362 in tax increment financing (TIF) money, as part of a resolution the village council passed unanimously at its June 11 meeting. The village will also be responsible for 30 percent of the interest on loans that Nunley took out to pay for construction, but it caps that amount at $200,000. So, over time, the village could pay a total of $687,362 in TIF dollars.

 The money will come from the Brown Street TIF district, one of four TIFs located in Forest Park. TIFs capture a portion of property taxes within a district, and that money is intended to be used to spark economic development and combat blight.

 Elite, with its loyal customer base, has been in Forest Park for several decades and its current location is just south of the 25 S. Harlem Ave. space Nunley began renting in the 1980s. In 2009, the company began constructing its current building on land that Elite purchased in 2006. Nunley said the project cost around $3.5 million, and he took out about $2.4 million in loans.

 Elite is located inside the Brown Street TIF district. Brown Street was the fund the village dipped into to reimburse Elite’s project costs that were eligible for repayment under the state’s TIF law. In 2009, the previous village council passed a TIF Inducement ordinance, thus, enabling it, legally, to take money from the district for that specific project.  

The resolution that passed on June 11 tallied the categories of eligible costs at $487,362. It was the first official action the village took to actually cover some of the costs Nunley incurred redeveloping his shop. That money, his attorney Lou Vitullo noted, will mostly go to people who worked “on his behalf,” throughout the project.

 Nunley said he owes around $3 million in costs associated with the project, but he is unsure how much of that is for interest. The village will assume a share of the mortgage interest and make annual payments to Elite. Interest payments, though will not exceed $200,000.  

 When asked what he was going to do with the money, Nunley said, “Bills.”

 “We have a lot of bills that were acquired during the process of putting up this building,” he said.

 Nunley’s new, red brick shop replaced the Nutbush City Limits bar, and Arrow Liquors, both of which shared a building that Mayor Anthony Calderone said was “dilapidated” around the time it was razed in 2008.

 “Rod Nunley … ended up building a nice-looking building, adding value, adding services for people that need their automobiles repaired, and added a few jobs to boot,” said Calderone.

Both Nunley and the village traveled a rocky road in completing this project, though. 

Nunley’s plans to rebuild his garage were met with resistance by developers who, back in 2008, tried to coax the mechanic into selling the land where his shop currently rests.

 For about a year, Nunley’s project was held up because the company, Circle Plaza, LLC argued that a new auto garage was not in line with what, at the time, was a village-supported plan to add residential and commercial development along Harlem Avenue.

The LLC owned the garage Nunley used to rent, as well as several other neighboring properties on Harlem Avenue. Representatives approached Nunley and tried to get him to sell, so his land could be developed, but he refused, because the terms weren’t “favorable.”

 Tim Hague, a River Forest developer, who, at the time, claimed he was an agent for the LLC, refused to comment on the matter. 

 Eventually, the economy soured, and Nunley waited out the developers’ pressure to sell by operating out of a trailer for several months in 2009. In  2010 he reopened in the new shop. While he was working out of the trailer, cars in need of repair were taken to West Suburban Auto in Melrose Park. 

 In a twist of support, the village then got behind Nunley in 2009, and said it was willing to back his plans for redevelopment by offering a TIF reimbursement.

 “Developers may paint rosy pictures … it’s nothing more, or nothing less,” said Calderone,  when asked about the topic. “There was a developer who wanted to develop … they [Nunley and Circle] could not come to an agreement [and] TIF participation came into effect.”

 “It’s a good deal for both parties,” said Vitullo, Nunley’s lawyer.