Mellody Farm development exceeds expectations in Vernon Hills

Village could retire TIF district 14 years early as $20M reimbursements could be paid off by 2026

TIF Revenue for Regency Centers’ Vernon Hills Project Skyrockets
Regency Centers’ Lisa Palmer and Mayor Roger Byrne and Mellody Farm (Regency Centers, Village of Vernon Hills, Getty)

Regency Centers’ Mellody Farm development has been so successful that Vernon Hills officials are looking at early retirement for the tax increment financing district created for the area, the Daily Herald reported

The village embarked on a plan nearly eight years ago to spur development at the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and Townline Road. The gamble paid off, as high-end apartments, plus retail and restaurants at Mellody Farm have surpassed expectations.

“That was a good decision we made … to say the least,” Mayor Roger Byrne said during a recent overview of the village’s three TIF districts.

The district established for Mellody Farm has outperformed projections to such an extent that it could be dissolved 14 years ahead of schedule.

Revenue stemming from the Mellody Farm TIF has skyrocketed by 77 percent annually, according to Vernon Hills finance director Thomas Lyons. The frozen assessed value of the land stands at approximately $291,000, compared to its actual appraised value of $46.6 million, the outlet reported.

Village officials entered into a $20 million reimbursement agreement with Regency Centers in January 2017 to cover public improvements and land costs associated with Mellody Farm. The 55-acre parcel, one of the last sizable undeveloped tracts in the area, was transformed into a bustling mixed-use complex, anchored by Whole Foods and 260 apartments.

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Projections indicate the fund balance will surpass the outstanding debt of $16.3 million by fiscal year 2026. 

TIFs freeze property taxes upon creation, but tax revenue generated from increased property values is allocated to a fund for development-related expenses.

John Melaniphy, president of retail consultancy Melaniphy & Associates, attributed Mellody Farm’s success to meticulous attention to detail, upscale facilities and an array of high-profile tenants. Notable brands such as Nordstrom Rack, REI and HomeGoods, coupled with popular dining options, have collectively contributed to the project’s triumph.

This success story contrasts with the fate of other TIF districts in the north suburb. While the Vernon Hills Town Center TIF, established in 2002, has run its course, the outcome of the third district, set up in late 2020 to rejuvenate Hawthorn Mall, remains uncertain.

—Quinn Donoghue 

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