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The Forsyth Village Board on Tuesday voted to create a tax-increment financing district along the U.S. 51 corridor.

The economic development tool is to encourage commercial development, including at Hickory Point Mall, and “spur residential development in the parcels surrounding Maroa-Forsyth Grade School, known as Prairie Winds,” the village said in a statement.

“Forsyth is well-established as the premier retail and restaurant market in Macon County,” said Community & Economic Development Coordinator Andrew Zupkoff. "This TIF district, along with our strong traffic counts, and desirable community statistics such as household income, will ensure Forsyth remains the top choice for retailers and restaurants seeking to locate here.”

TIFs allow municipalities to divert local property tax dollars to a fund for public and private development. It is Forsyth's first TIF. 

Zupkoff said residents have said they want a grocery store, which has been difficult to attract.

“This TIF district now allows the village to most effectively put our money where our mouth is, increasing our ability to entice such coveted projects. We’ll work directly with the commercial real estate and development communities to encourage deals that make Forsyth an even more desirable place to live for current and prospective residents,” he said.

The zone stretches from Shafer Street south to the mall and includes the village's old downtown area. 

The board in April voted to have TIF Illinois of Bloomington conduct a study into the development tool. With TIFs, state law says parcels have to be blighted or in under-performing areas. 

Hickory Point Mall, which opened in the 1970s, has experienced steep declines in recent years as the retail sector shrinks. Owner CBL & Associates Properties in a third-quarter earning report said "the property has experienced continued deterioration in operating metrics." 

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