Developer Seeking Tax Breaks To Convert Old Aldi Into Blood Plasma Donation Center

Sunday, August 18, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: The site of the former Aldi store, 215 Madison St. in Maywood. The building will become a blood plasma donation center. | File

A developer seeking to convert the old Aldi grocery store at 215 Madison St. in Maywood into a blood plasma donation center will go before the Board of Trustees on Aug. 20 seeking a property tax break.

James Troutman, of Troutman & Dams LLC, recently filed for a Class 7A Cook County property tax incentive, which would assess the property for 12 years at rates lower than the standard 25 percent rate that commercial properties are typically assessed. The property would be assessed at 10 percent of market value for 10 years, and 15 percent and 20 percent in the last two years of the deal, respectively.

The Cook County Class 7A is offered to businesses seeking to locate in areas that have historically suffered from high unemployment rates, a chronic lack of viable commercial development and low median family income levels, among other factors.

According to the tax incentive application, James Troutman is a principal of Troutman & Dams LLC along with Eric Dams — both of Chicago. Troutman & Dams is the sole principal of TD Maywood LLC, the entity that purchased the building from Aldi in June. Up until the purchase, the former Aldi store had been vacant since the company closed the location — at the time Maywood’s only full-service grocery store — in December 2016.

TD Maywood LLC will lease the entire property to Biomat USA, Inc. — the Los Angeles-based company that will manage the blood plasma donation center. Biomat USA is a subsidiary of Grifols Plasma, which is based in Spain and is the world’s largest operator of plasma donor centers.

According to the application, construction on the renovation of the nearly 16,000-square-foot former Aldi store started in July and is expected to be finished in October. The total cost of the redevelopment is projected to cost $1.8 million.

“The property is currently being taxed at a vacancy rate with tax bills totaling approximately $114,751,” Troutman’s application explains. “A Real Estate analysis based on records from the Cook County Assessor’s office indicates a decline of 21.4% over the last six years […] The reoccupation and redevelopment of the property will assist in stopping the decline in assessment and the Village should see an increase in 2020’s assessment with the new investment captured.”

On his application, Troutman said that the rehabilitation will create between 50 and 60 construction jobs and that the plasma donation center, once its running, will create 40 “new permanent full-time” jobs.

Plasma is the clear, yellowish, liquid part of blood that holds proteins and antibodies used to treat a range of rare, chronic and life-threatening conditions, such as hemophilia. In the United States, people can donate plasma up to twice a week. Troutman’s application explains that Biomat compensates donors by a Visa gift card, “which could result in up to $400 per month in donor income.”

Proponents of blood plasma donation centers say that they provide people in need of immediate cash with critical financial support while supplying a life-saving resource that’s in high demand.

Critics of the industry, however, say that blood donation companies have made the desperation of poor people into a $20 billion industry. According to a February report in the New York Times, the companies “locate their collection centers disproportionately in destitute neighborhoods, according to Heather Olsen, who, as a graduate student researcher at Case Western Reserve University, examined 40 years of data on collection centers across the country. ‘They’re surgically placing these,’ she said.

“Healthy people can donate plasma twice a week, up to 104 times a year. The plasma industry says that most people do not donate so frequently and that there are minimal health risks involved, but other researchers disagree. One 2010 study found that paid donors who sell their plasma frequently have fewer proteins in their blood, which some experts say could put them at risk for infections and liver and kidney disorders. In the short term, plassers have reported fatigue, tingling sensations, anemia and blacking out.”

News that a blood plasma center was moving into the site of what used to be the only full-service grocery store in Maywood ignited an intense response on Facebook, with most commentators bristling at the irony.

There were, however, some Facebook commentators who expressed more modulated opinions.

As part of the process for applying for a Class 7A tax break with Cook County, companies must submit their applications for review to municipal boards. Troutman & Dams explained in their application that the tax break “is key to the redevelopment of the” former Aldi.

They’re scheduled to make their pitch to the Maywood Board of Trustees on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 7 p.m., at Council Chambers, 125 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood. Troutman declined to comment for this article when reached by phone on Aug. 18. VFP

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