The Cook County Assessor has raised assessments for a number of properties, meaning those properties will see larger tax bills in 2020. But that’s not the case for all of the properties in that county. Some are actually valued lower than they were in the past, though, which has helped those property owners see a large break on their taxes. Most of these owners are investors, and they’ve seen their property assessments drop more than half in some cases.

The biggest example of these kinds of tax breaks is the data center in Northlake, which was purchased in December 2017 for #315 million. It was valued last year at just under $56 million. Despite the incredibly low valuations of some of these properties, the investors have filed to have the valuation and assessment lowered even further. The assessed values of commercial properties have been raised, but 50 of the biggest commercial property sales in the county show the high values still fall well short of the sales prices.

The goal of improving accuracy in the assessment process is not yet complete, and with the ability for investors to sue to have assessments lowered even more, the battle to get a fair valuation for everyone in the county is going to be an ongoing one. Past concerns included an assessor who was cozy with investors and their tax appeal attorneys, but with a new assessor in office, it’s expected that changes will be made more thoroughly and rapidly. Still, that hasn’t really been the case. While it’s moving in the right direction, it’s a very slow process that still has far too many loopholes.

In 2019, the assessed value for commercial and industrial real estate in the suburban areas of north Cook County went up more than 74 percent when compared to 2018. Residential real estate only went up 15.6 percent in that same time frame. That has shifted the property tax burden, but investors and commercial landlords are pushing back against the increases — even if their property valuations actually decreased. Landlords are becoming more anxious about the changes, and the concern is that investors will start avoiding the area and taking their commercial property businesses elsewhere.

Commercial property prices in and around the Chicago area have started falling, and now are underperforming other major metropolitan areas. Because of that, more investors are starting to feel like their properties can’t be valued properly and that they’ll end up paying taxes that are too high and not being able to sell their properties for a fair price at a later date. It’s become a guessing game in north Cook county, based on how much taxes and assessments might rise in the future. Until they get their second installment on their property tax bills over the summer, they won’t know what they should be paying.