Tax incentives could help repopulate empty state properties

By Alex Davis |

Published 11/12 2013 12:08PM

Updated 11/12 2013 12:14PM

JACKSONVILLE -- What's old could be made new again if some Illinois' lawmakers get their way. WCIA-3's Alex Davis keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

The idea is to help renovate some empty state facilities. Supporters claim the bill could be just the right incentive to get businesses going into these communities and put properties back in order. A stroll through Community Park in Jacksonville can leave a lot to be desired.

"It's empty and foreboding."

The grounds house dozens of vacant buildings which were once home to nearly 200 Jacksonville Developmental Center residents.

"It was more than just, um, than just an institution. It was actually people caring for people and it was a part of what defined Jacksonville."

The center was closed last fall and has been abandoned ever since.

"It makes me sad to know the purpose that they served and what was lost from it."

But now, there's a new plan on the table which could give incentives to private investors who open up shop in one of the state's empty properties.

"It's a big area. It needs to be opened. It needs to have something down with it."

Under the bill, investors would get an income tax credit if they refurbish sites which had 100 employees and were closed within the past two years.

"The buildings are vacant. They're good buildings, so let's use them."

It includes JDC. The idea is giving community leaders high hopes.

"We're working daily to try to do something with it."

Saying they believe such a plan could turn things around.

"This would be a tremendous impact for Jacksonville."

The measure was approved in the Senate, but hasn't been taken up in the House. The incentives come at a time when other lawmakers are also looking for tax breaks. They're focused on helping businesses in their districts.

Univar, Inc., Office Depot and ADM are all asking for millions of dollars in tax breaks. They are just some of dozens which say they need help to stay in Illinois.

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