Thursday, January 31, 2008

Peoria Urban Living Initative (formerly Walk to Work)

Approved by the Peoria City Council on November 13, 2007

Action Requested: Propose a joint Task Force, comprised of staff from the City and major downtown employers, which will examine ways to increase middle class investment and home ownership in the Heart of Peoria.

Background: The City has been working to revitalize and rebuild the Heart of Peoria. The City has created the Heart of Peoria plan, the Renaissance Park program, an Enterprise Zone and nine Tax increment Financing Districts to lead this effort. Currently, the City also sponsors a program to provide lower interest rates for home buyers, and provides down payment assistance for first home buyers.

However, stabilizing the Heart of Peoria is also in the interest of Peoria employers within this area. These employers are seeking to improve the areas around their operations and are looking to be more completive in attracting “creative class” employees. The City proposes creating a Task Force that will study existing programs and examine other possible methods of increasing middle class home ownership in the Heart of Peoria. Preliminarily, we have identified four major employers for this effort: Caterpillar, Bradley University, Methodist Medical Center and OSF. Other groups, such as District 150 and the Chamber of Commerce, could also be considered.

This Task Force would be comprised of two parts:

A Policy Board, comprised of a senior leader from each employer, as selected by that employer. The Mayor would select one or more Councilpersons to chair this Policy Board. The Policy Board would examine the high-level issues involved and give direction to the staff to pursue options.

A Technical Committee, tasked with investigating the issues identified by the Policy Board. This group will be led by Christopher Setti, City of Peoria 6 Sigma Black Belt. Each participating employer would be asked to name an employee (preferably a Black Belt if available) to work with Mr. Setti. Broadly, this group will be determining who the customer of the end product might be; what motivates their home-buying decisions; and what programs could be established increase homeownership in the target area.

The working title of this project is the Peoria Urban Living Initiative. The intent of the program would be to conserve and revitalize our neighborhoods in the Heart of Peoria, while helping our employers recruit and retain valuable employees. While the effort will be guided by the Policy Board, some of the areas of exploration might be:

The size and scope of down-payment assistance (and other homeownership initiatives) in the target area by both the City and employers.

How taxes can be reduced or mitigated in order to stimulate investment.

The best use of the City’s “bond volume cap” in encouraging homeownership.

Other initiatives, such as Neighborhood LEEDs, that might raise the profile of older neighborhoods.

RECOMMENDATION: Direct staff to prepare a letter from the Mayor to the CEOs of our target partners proposing the joint study, and request that they each make an appointment to the Policy Board and Technical Committee.

Financial Impact: Improved homeownership in the Heart of Peoria will help to increase revenues to all taxing authorities through higher assessed property values.

NEIGHBORHOOD CONCERNS: Neighborhood leaders have consistently been in favor of greater homeownership rates. The Technical Committee will seek their input in this initiative.

Impact if Approved: The Task Force will be formed and the issue will be thoroughly studied. The result will be a set of recommendations to the City Council and partner employers about steps that can be taken to improve homeownership.

Impact if Denied: The City will continue to offer its incentive programs and employers will likely not address the issue.

Alternatives: None.

EEO Certification Number: n/a

RELATIONSHIP TO THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN: The development is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. VISION: WE HAVE A HEALTHY,

THRIVING ECONOMY. GOAL: A. Provide an economic environment that supports existing and new businesses.

For more information contact:

Chris Christopher Setti
Six Sigma Black Belt
City of Peoria
456 Fulton Street, Suite 402
Peoria, IL 61606
w: (309) 494-8618 c: (309) 472-6291