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200 jobs for city tied to parking subsidy

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Evanston's Economic Development Committee is scheduled tonight to review a proposal that would bring 200 private-sector jobs to a downtown office building in return for a $210,000 parking subsidy.

Accuity, Inc., a banking industry data provider now based in Skokie, says it is considering relocating to the 1007 Church St. building, which is now reportedly nearly half vacant.

Accuity officials say they now have 135 parking spaces included in the lease for their office building at 4709 Golf Road in Skokie, but that the owners of the 1007 Church St. building in Evanston can provide only 65 spaces.

To make up the parking space deficit, they're asking the city to provide 70 roof-top spaces at the city-owned Maple Avenue parking garage for the next five years, which at regular rates are worth $42,000 a year.

The 1,400 space garage has been only half full in recent years, although the city recently reached agreement with the developer of a new apartment tower at 1571 Maple Ave. on a long-term lease for 101 spaces.

Accuity is also reportedly considering expanding in Skokie or relocating to the offices of an affiliated company in Georgia.

In a memo to the committee, city staff says the company plans to decide which option to take next month.

If the company moves to Evanston, its lease of 36,000 square feet of space at 1007 Church would almost make up for the nearly 43,000 square feet in the building that went vacant when Thomson Reuters, the building's largest tenant, unexpectedly terminated its lease in 2011.

That led to a long period of receivership for the building, whose current owners acquired it at a judicial sale last June.

City staff say they plan to make an internal transfer of money from the city's Economic Development Business Attraction Fund to its Parking Fund to cover the cost of the parking subsidy.

The company says its average employee salary is now $70,000 a year with anticipated new hires expected to average $100,000 a year. The city estimates that the 200 workers would generate about $1 million in incremental annual sales for Evanston businesses, as well at $20,000 in annual sales tax revenue for the city.

Editor's note: The story has been updated to reflect revised information from the city about the company's average salaries.

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