Autobarn is now one step closer to receiving a package of economic development aid from Evanston for its planned expansion on Hartrey Avenue.

The Joint Review Board voted Thursday to recommend City Council expand the Howard-Hartrey tax increment financing district to include 222 Hartrey, the proposed site for the new Autobarn service center.

In addition to a loan or grant from the TIF district, Autobarn is also seeking reduced property taxes and the extension of a sales tax rebate.

City officials are eager to see the Evanston’s last remaining auto dealership expand to keep generating what it claims is more sales tax revenue for the town than any other business.

The former Shure Incorporated headquarters site has been vacant since 2002.

The prolonged vacancy, deterioration and declining equalized assessed value of the property are qualifying factors for inclusion of the property in the TIF district, Nicholas Greifer of Kane, McKenna and Associates, Inc., the city’s TIF consulting firm told the board.

Greifer said the projected EAV for the property, once redevelopment is complete, is $25.5 million. The estimated costs of the TIF, including land acquisition and rehabilitation, is $19.5 million.

At a press conference in July, Autobarn owner Richard Fisher estimated that it would cost $8.5 million to purchase and redevelop the Hartery building, in addition to completing more work at his Chicago Avenue dealerships.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th ward, said the sale of the property to Autobarn is contingent on inclusion in the TIF district, the extension of the sales tax rebate and lower property taxes.

But once the property is purchased, Bob Rychlicki, of Kane, McKenna said the city would see an “immediate bump up” in property values in the area.

“The schedule of improvements will dictate how much increments you’ll get in the future,” he said.

But Rainey said the city would seek to include this site as part of the TIF district regardless of Autobarn’s intent to purchase the property.

Rainey and Evanston Township High School Chief Financial Officer Bill Stafford were the only officials present at the meeting. Both voted in favor of the recommending the expansion of the TIF district.

The TIF district, originally used to redevelop an abandoned Bell & Howell warehouse into the shopping center that now houses Jewel, Target, Office Max and Best Buy, is scheuled to expire in 2015. Expanding the TIF’s area will not extend its life.

A public hearing will be held at an Oct. 28 City Council meeting to discuss the TIF expansion.

Notice of the hearing will be mailed to taxpayers in the district and immediate surrounding area. After the hearing, the City Council must vote on the proposal from 14 to 90 days later.

Related stories

Join the Conversation


  1. Excuse Me

    Am I wrong about this? Doesn't a reduction in taxes for this property that mean that everybody else in Evanston will pay higher property taxes to make up the difference?  

    1. Let’s TIF the whole town

      While I don't fully understand the TIF deals we approve, I believe it means we lose tax revenues for a long period of time – on the "incremental" increase in taxes. What happens if there is no increase and the land goes down in value? If you don't think that could happen, how much was your house worth in 2006 and how much is it worth today? If this were to happen, does this mean the related bonds will be devalued?

      Something tells me we shouldn't be so loose with TIFs, although this might be a good one.

      1. “But once the property is

        "But once the property is purchased, Bob Rychlicki, of Kane, McKenna said the city would see an “immediate bump up” in property values in the area."

        This will mean property Tax Increases for the Owners (RESIDENTS) and not Autobarn ( I believe)

  2. What now?

    Is there any business in Evanston not receiving assistance!?!? I know this is an old business, but are there any businesses we can manage to attract to this town without sweetheart deals and taxpayer funding?!?!

  3. TIFS in a down market

    Park Ridge has already paid many thousands dollars from its general fund the last three years to cover borrowing costs from their UPTOWN TIF district.  It is now looking for legal ways to disolve the TIFor re-finance the TIF borrowing costs in order to try and NOT raise property taxes to cover the ever increasing shortfall within the TIF.

    So, developments/improvements that are paid for by borrowing from "possible" increases (the increment) in property tax money created in the TIF must be repaid by the municipality responsible for the TIF.

    1. Borrow from TIF? What do you mean?

      TIFs make my head spin. Is there an online resource that explains exactly how they work? I thought that when an area was designated as a TIF that the current tax levy continued to get paid to D65, D202, Cook County etc. But that INCREMENTAL tax revenues were NOT paid to the taxing bodies, but instead reinvested in the TIF zone. This investment is supposed to enhance the area and promote economic growth. Does the City of Evanston actually borrow money against the expected increase in the TIF district? If so, this sounds risky. How does this actually work? Sounds like it is not working well in Park Ridge. Maybe we can learn from other people's mistakes. Who is the TIF expert in Evanston?

  4. Consider, too, the damage to

    Consider, too, the damage to surrounding streets and incursion into residential areas by many single vehicles they move and huge multi-wheeled trucks they use to receive deliveries.

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 *