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.