Evanston Alderman Ann Rainey this week blasted site maintenance efforts by owners of the Howard and Hartrey shopping center in her 8th ward.

“It’s always filthy,” Rainey told a meeting of the Economic Development Committee Wednesday night. “It’s the ugliest, dirtiest mess, but the most profitable shopping district in the entire city.”

“Target refuses to respond every time I communicate with management about conditions there,” Rainey added.

In addition to Target, the center also includes a Jewel supermarket and Best Buy and Office Max stores

Rainey said she’s opposed to having the city spend funds from the tax increment financing district used to help build the center for maintenance within the property itself.

Instead she urged that the funds be used to improve the surrounding neighborhood.

“They’ve never maintained the agreement to maintain the landscaping on their side of the wall” that separates the center from homes on the east side of Hartrey, Rainey added.

“I think the city ought to hire a lawyer with this excess money to force them to perform,” she said.

City officials have been considering the idea of closing the Howard-Hartrey TIF before its scheduled expiration date so the schools and other taxing bodies could benefit sooner from the increase in property values generated by the redevelopment.

But Rainey said she’s not willing to see that happen until issues like the maintenance are addressed.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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