Evanston Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, objected Monday to proposed tax relief for a local bakery planning to open on Central Street, arguing it might hurt other bakers in the neighborhood.
The owners of Hewn Bakery, which has operated on Dempster Street in Evanston for over six years, want to acquire a vacant and dilapitated 6,000 square foot retail storefront and and warehouse property at 1729-1733 Central to greatly expand their production capacity.
Central Street has a number of other bakeries, including:
- DB3 Donuts at 1704 Central St.
- Beth’s Little Bake Shop at 1814 Central St.
- Tag’s Bakery at 2010 Central St.
- Great Harvest Bakery at 2126 Central St.
Fiske suggested that Hewn might drive some of the others out of business.
But her protectionist sentiment didn’t carry the day.
Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, said, “We live in a capitalist society and shouldn’t be trying to regulate what new businesses” are opening in the community.
Fleming added that she had supported plans for a car wash on Oakton Street in her ward even though it was directly across the street from an existing car wash.
Community Development Director Johanna Leonard said that generally clustering of similar businesses is beneficial to them all — making an area a destination for shoppers looking for such products.
And Julie Matthei, one of Hewn’s owners, said Hewn is very different from a lot of the other bakeries, because of its substantial focus on wholesale sales.
The bakery is seeking a Class 6b tax break from Cook County that would reduce their taxes on the property from the standard commercial rate of 25 percent to 10 percent during most of the 120year term of the agreement.
Hewn’s owners anticipate spending about $729,000 on repairs and upgrades to the building and calculate that the tax break would let them gradually recoup about $689,000 of the repair costs.
The would still end up paying an estimated $564,000 in property taxes during that time period — compared to a projected $62,000 if the building remains vacant.
Several other aldermen voiced support for the project and, after language encouraging local hirking was added, the resolution supporting the tax break was approved 7-1 with Fiske voting no. Alderman Eleanor Revelle, whose 7th Ward includes the new bakery site, was absent from the meeting.