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Opportunity awaits in Opportunity Zone

Lee ProvostMay 18, 2019

About 50 percent of the city of Kankakee has been classified as a federal Opportunity Zone, meaning capital gains tax breaks await those interested in investing money into the zoned area.

A program attended by some 100 people in downtown Kankakee on Thursday was held to explain the program, which is new to Kankakee County and many other regions across the country.

Each county in Illinois has at least one Opportunity Zone. Statewide, there are 327. Nationwide, there are about 8,700 Opportunity Zones. There are Opportunity Zones in nearby Watseka, as well as Joliet.

The vast majority of these Illinois zones are in metro areas, such as Kankakee and Joliet. Only 18 percent are considered to be in rural areas. More than 40 percent of these zones are in Chicago’s west and south sides.

So what is an Opportunity Zone? Started by the President Trump administration, it is defined as a program which encourages long-term investment and job creation in low-income areas by allowing investors to reinvest unrealized capital gains in designated areas.

In Kankakee, the Opportunity Zone covers about half of the city, mainly in the north and east portions.

Anyone or any entity from across the country is allowed to develop an opportunity zone. The Economic Alliance of Kankakee County noted there are some 40 parcels currently available in Kankakee’s Opportunity Zone.

A development can be as basic as buying a home and rehabbing it as a rental property or much larger, such as developing a manufacturing or warehouse facility, explained Kankakee attorney Dave Baron.

Baron noted after Thursday’s presentation that the program is very new to the area, and no investor has stepped forward. He expects that situation to change.

Scott Styck, a Kankakee accountant and a program presenter, said while there may be many who don’t realize it, Kankakee has great investment potential.

“It’s about ‘find the people who can do it or who want to do it.’ There are tons of opportunities here,” he said.

The idea behind these zones is to drive long-term private investment into low-income areas.

Those seeking more information on Kankakee’s zones should contact Styck or Karen Benson at 815-935-0360 or Baron at 815-939-7373.

Kankakee believes with pending development along the Kankakee River and available land — particularly near Interstate 57 — there is great development potential.

Kankakee is also in the final stages of creating a pair of new 23-year tax increment financing districts in economically struggling areas, which can be used in conjunction with Opportunity Zone benefits.

Kankakee’s downtown area is also included in the National Register of Historic Place, meaning investors there can also be eligible for federal income tax credit on qualifying rehab projects.

Clifton’s Glenda Inouye had plans of transforming approximately 8,000 square feet of a vacant building at 665 W. Broadway St. in Bradley into a dog day care/boarding business called Paws & Play.

The Bradley Planning & Zoning Board and the Bradley Village Board had other ideas.

The request for a special use permit in the business district was voted down by a 7-0 vote by the planning board and by a 6-0 village board vote.

“I thought it would be welcomed,” Inouye said after Monday’s board meeting. “There is nothing like this here. People want places like this.”

Trustees explained they were not opposed to the business, but rather the location she was seeking. They indicated the business — and the odors it would create — would have a negative impact on the area.

They hoped she would search for a more accommodating location within the village.

Inouye said she would seek a new location because she believes she has a sought-after business. She’s not sure if she will be looking within Bradley’s borders, however.

The location has most recently been the home of Go All Out Inc., T-shirt and embroidery business. Prior to Go All Out, the location was the home of Trend Setters College of Cosmetology.

The annual Bradley Fire Department fish fry will be held June 7-8 along West Broadway Street.

The event will feature plenty of fish sandwiches, live bands, raffles, children’s games and a car show.

West Broadway will be closed from Grand Avenue to Michigan Avenue.

Crews begin setting up the stage on June 5. Outsen Electric will be setting up electricity on June 6 and the tents will be set up that day.

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