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Big tax hikes for landlords? Maybe not.

The Cook County Board of Review has slashed assessed values on a swath of commercial properties. That's good news for landlords, but bad news for homeowners.

If commercial property owners feel like they no longer have a friend in the Cook County assessor's office, they've still got some at the county Board of Review.

For much of the past year, landlords in the northern and northwest suburbs have griped that Fritz Kaegi, who took over as assessor in late 2018, is giving them a raw deal, jacking up their assessments and setting them up for huge real estate tax hikes this year. Many say the increases have had a chilling effect on the local commercial real estate market, scaring off investors and depressing property values.

But a new batch of data suggests those worries may be overblown. The Board of Review, where property owners can appeal their assessments, has slashed assessed values on commercial and industrial properties in seven townships in northern Cook County from the high levels set by Kaegi's office. After granting appeals, the board estimated the assessed value of all the properties at $3.29 billion, down 32 percent—or more than $1.5 billion—from the $4.83 billion value set by the assessor.

That's great news for owners of apartment, industrial, retail and other buildings. They'll pay less—a lot less, in some cases—in taxes than they would have without the board's intervention.

"We're very happy about it," says apartment landlord Stuart Handler, CEO of Chicago-based TLC Management. "We hope that it will be a trend that will continue."

But the reductions are bad news for north suburban homeowners, shifting more of the property tax burden onto them.

"Thousands and thousands of citizens are going to be paying considerably more than they should because of the Board of Review," says retired Cook County Clerk David Orr.

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Crain's Chicago Business | Alby Gallun | 3/6/20

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