Evanston aldermen voted 6-2 Tuesday night in favor of creating a tax increment financing district for the Evanston Plaza shopping center at Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue.

But final approval of the plan will have to wait another two weeks, after the objectors to the project — Aldermen Don Wilson, 4th Ward, and Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward — rebuffed a move to give the TIF ordinances immediate effect.

Supporters of the project estimated the delay would mean the TIF would fail to capture about $3 million in incremental revenue because of anticipated changes in the valuation of the property. The deadline for using last year’s valuation in creating a new TIF is the end of this month.

The delay means less money for the TIF, but more for other taxing bodies that won’t be deprived of that incremental property tax revenue for the 23-year life of the TIF.

Burrus said she was opposed to using taxpayer funds to lower the rent for potential new tenants at the shopping center and added that she couldn’t imagine how spending $1 million a year in tax revenue on the center over the next 23 years could be justified.

An aerial view of the neighborhood with the shopping center TIF area highlighted.

But Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said some existing structures at the center may need to be demolished. That’s very expensive, and a very typical expenditure in TIFs, Rainey said.

Scott Inbinder of Bonnie Management, the new owner of the plaza, said the outlot building close to the intersection “is way too big.”

“It blocks the visibility of other buildings in the center from the street,” Inbinder said, contributing to vacancies on the west side of the center.

“If we had the resources, we could tear the outlot building down and build one or two smaller outlot buildings,” Inbinder added.

But he said that would require uncovering contaminated soil now sealed beneath the parking lot, which would create additional environmental remediation costs.

Inbinder declined to provide any specifics regarding new tenants his firm is talking to about locating at the plaza.

But he said he’s looking “for any tenant that would complement the neighborhood and be a good co-tenant to the ones that are there now.”

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, was absent from the meeting.

Related story

Doubts raised on Evanston Plaza tax district

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. This is bad precedent

    What a deal for Bonnie Investments!

    They buy a shopping center in a foreclosure and then months later the city declares the shopping center a TIF where all the tax money the shopping center generates will be used to rebuild it and subsidize future tenants.

    Meanwhile, Evanstonians pay higher and higher city taxes, water rates, fees and fines as property values continue to decline, branch libraries close.

    Alderman Rainey kept saying we have nothing to lose. Really?

    D65 is out of money and has just laid off special ed and art teachers. The tax revenue generated from the Plaza Shopping Center will no longer go to our schools.

    Aldermen have decided to subsidize the owner of an existing shopping center. Wow, this is bad precedent.

    I don't often agree with Aldermen Wilson but his essay in the Roundtable was right-on. I'd like to think I am pro-business but not this.

    Can I buy stock in Bonnie Investments? Who are they?

  2. Transformation

    Suddenly now it's about the outlot building? That's new.

    Looking at the satellite shot it's tough to see how they would build two smaller ones with some amount of space between them would result in better visibility for the western building…

    And they're holding the cards to their vest about new tenants.  Can they give a number of how many?  Any at all? And will anybody address the Dominick's in the room?  Do they still have refusal rights to any possible tenants?

  3. Unbelievable

    Shocking to me that all D65 parents aren't hooting about this- This is tax money right out of their kids' schools.


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