Evanston aldermen tonight are set to give the final OK to a tax increment financing district with a $20 million budget and move another budgeted at the same amount along the approval path.

The Evanston Plaza shopping center.

The final approval is scheduled for the Dempster-Dodge TIF, which has the same boundaries as the half-vacant Evanston Plaza shopping center. That plan won backing from aldermen on a 6-2 vote to introduce the proposal two weeks ago.

The newer proposal is for a TIF covering parts of the Chicago-Main shopping district. It would include the vacant parcel on the southeast corner of that intersection, the railroad property to the west of the intersection, and the block of storefronts on the south side of Main Street from Custer to Sherman avenues.

Top: Lupita’s restaurant and other shops on the south side of Main from Sherman to Custer would be included in the proposed Chicago-Main TIF. Above: The main focus of that TIF is the vacant lot on the southeast corner of the Chicago-Main intersection.

The city’s tax district consultant, Kane McKenna, prepared estimated budgets for the two districts.

  Dempster-Dodge Chicago-Main
Land acquisition $500,000 $1,000,000
Site preparation $4,000,000 $3,000,000
Utility improvements $3,000,000 $3,000,000
Structure rehab $4,750,000 $5,000,000
Public facilities $4,000,000 $4,000,000
Interest costs $1,250,000 $2,000,000
Professional services $1,250,000 $1,000,000
Job Training $1,000,000 $500,000
School payments $250,000 $500,000
Total $20,000,000 $20,000,000

The TIF projects are intended to be paid for from additional tax revenue generated by new development in the tax districts. Projects can also be financed by money borrowed against anticipated future increases in tax revenue.

The Main Street Metra station, home of the Piccolo Theatre, would be included in the TIF district.

The city has been working with a developer to find tenants for a planned office and retail development on the vacant Chicago-Main parcel, but so far the project has failed to gain enough tenant commitments to win construction financing.

Related stories

Aldermen back Evanston Plaza TIF on 6-2 vote

Doubts raised on Evanston Plaza tax district

Evanston’s Chicago-Main tax district plan advances

Plans for two new tax districts move forward

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Convert lot to a public park

    Rather than further increase traffic on the Main/Chicago corridor, that lot should be made into a public park with a fenced portion for dogs.

    We are too quick to commercialize space, and with Trader Joe's moving into an already crowded area on Chicago Avenue, and new townhomes/ lots across from the Firehouse restaurant, traffic will be all the worse.

    We need a great public space near mass transit and this busy intersection to improve the quality of life for Evanston residents and visitors. Adding yet more commercial space or high rise buildings places us in a valley of shadows and unneeded commercial space.

    The nearest park space along this corridor is across from the Music Institute, and perhaps with underwriting from some of the area merchants, such as Starbucks (across Main), this space can become a wonderful park.

  2. Not a park

    A corner location on two main streets across the street from both the CTA and Metra is a natural location for a mixed commercial/retail and residential development.  If there is any location in the city that calls for density, this is it.  From my door on Forest it is a five-minute walk to Clark, Baker, the spider tot-lot and Eiden, not to mention the other parks along the lake-front.  This is not an under-parked neighborhood.

  3. Accountability?

    "Projects can also be financed by money borrowed against anticipated

    future increases in tax revenue."

    Do you think the council, Wally and the Mayor are going to wait for the increment to increase? Or will they borrow against the increment, putting taxpayers on the hook?

    Does anyone believe the TIF consultants numbers above how the money will be spent? Job programs are nothing more than patronage, the public works items are not likely to happen.

    These TIF are nothing more than tax increases, paying for private development.

    When I asked them at the economic development committee, why they are not tracking the projects the answer was they are all successful show us one that failed.  ( are the kidding?)

    Interesting they are adjusting the Hotel tax, to correct it, to claim it is for spending on their pet projects rather than the general fund, anyone read about Bridgeview and the stadium?  Taxpayers there are on the hook for millions, ofcourse we are on the hook for $888 million and approaching 1 billion soon, bankruptcy is only a step away.

  4. Earth to Council

    The Council seems to believe that giving gifts to their favoirites, creating new TIFs, coming up with ideas no matter how outlandish, paying outlandish sums for properties that they have no business getting involved with and are not worth a fraction of the price they pay, will turn the Evanston economy around.

    The record shows their judgement of what will work is to say the least 'poor.'  Instead of realizing they have to cut their budget, reduce taxes and regulations that make no sense, they seem to think throwing money ["just one more gift will do it"] will help.  They are and have been completely wrong. Meanwhile the tax payers foot the bill and see the city go downhill.

    1. Road to reality or more waste ?

      Tax payers who want to get a good picture of what is wrong with the way the city, state and federal government are selecting projects/investments, housing policies, pension and health care policy, will find the recent book "Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You've Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong" by Ed Conard very useful.  The author presents a balanced and non-partisan analysis of why so many assumptions made by government and individuals are mis-placed and mis-directed and why continuing as we have will make it very difficult if not impossible to dig our way out.
      Clearly the uses of funds the Council has selected [financing of businesses with little chance of success and little if any value to the local economy even if they do] and willingness to promise pension/benefits that have no possibility of being paid for long, have set us on a wrong course that will only prevent us from climbing out of the hole.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *