Assessment sticker shock: Property values — and taxes — keep rising in suburbs

Commercial and industrial property assessments are about 90% higher this year than in 2018
July 09, 2019 12:00PM

From left: One Century Centre office building in Schaumburg, Fritz Kaegi, and Amli apartment complex in Evanston

From left: One Century Centre office building in Schaumburg, Fritz Kaegi, and Amli apartment complex in Evanston

Updated July 9, 4:57 p.m. Since taking office more than six months ago, Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi has assessed the total value of north suburban commercial and industrial properties about 90 percent higher on average than last year, an effort he says brings the properties more in line with their actual worth.

The sharpest increases have been in Evanston and Barrington, according to Crain’s, which first reported on the county assessor’s numbers.

The move has alarmed some real estate investors, who say the sudden tax hike could force them to scrap planned apartment and office buildings.

Residential property valuations also rose, though less dramatically, jumping almost 17 percent on average between 2018 and this year. The fastest increases were recorded in the O’Hare-area suburbs of Norridge and Harwood Heights, which saw assessed home values spike 27 percent.

Kaegi has said his team is simply following valuation data more closely than his predecessor, Joe Berrios, whose “imaginary” capitalization rate calculations lowered the tax burden on some commercial properties, he said.

Kaegi calculated a 6 percent capitalization rate for apartments in the suburbs of Northbrook, Glenview and Northfield, where Berrios used a 10.5 percent rate, according to Crain’s. A lower rate indicates a higher property value, and commercial properties in wealthier areas rarely post rates over 8 percent.

Kaegi championed a bill in Springfield that would have required large commercial property owners to turn over income data for more accurate assessments, but the bill never made it to the floor of the state House of Representatives. [Crain’s] — Alex Nitkin