Evanston aldermen Monday night approved paying a developer up to $2.9 million to include a floor of offices in a new mixed-use development at Main Street and Chicago Avenue.

The money would come from the tax increment financing district recently created for the neighborhood.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, whose 3rd Ward includes the site, said the project represents Evanston “moving forward to the future” and speculated that the office space, along with the gigabit high-speed internet service to be provided to the neighborhood through a $1 million state grant “will help create new high-tech jobs in the community.”

But Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said the office space was only being included in the project because city officials wanted it. The need for assistance, Wilson said, “was not the doing of the developer, but the doing of the city.”

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, said she’s excited at the prospect of having the new building, but that she had opposed creation of the TIF district and opposed the city’s move to force the inclusion of offices in the project — which now is ending up costing the city millions of dollars.

The loan proposal was approved 6-2, with Burrus and Wilson voting no. Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, was absent from the meeting.

Advocates for the project, like Wynne, have said that the area — which two mass transit stations — is a natural for more office development and that shops in the area need to recover the daytime business they lost when the two-story retail and office building that formerly occupied the site was torn down for a planned condo project that never got off the ground.

Details of the assistance for the 835 Chicago Ave. project are to be worked out in negotiations between the city manager and developer John O’Donnell and will be subject to another council vote.

The project calls for a nine story building with ground-floor retail and underground parking, offices on the second floor and seven stories of residential apartments above that.

Related stories

City offers $2.9M subsidy for Chicago-Main offices

Chicago-Main developer shifts focus to residential

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Parking

    Parking, a big issue when this project was first proposed, was given short-shrift in this posting.

    How many spaces will there be?  Will the underground parking be for residents?  Will it be for shoppers?  The problem is that that area of SE Evanston has many apartments and even condos without parking or adequate parking.  Any store locating in that area will have to compete with the locals for off-street parking.

    I understand the need for building up this area but it can't work for everyone if non-local shoppers can't find a place to put their cars or residents need to scout out a place on Judson or Forest.

    Maybe certain assumptions are being made like no one really needs a car anymore or all shoppers will be local.  What works so well for Starbucks (with locals) may not play as well with a specialty store.

    1. We’re already scouting out parking spaces

      I completely agree about the parking issues. Residents are already scouting out parking places on streets east of Chicago Ave. It's common to see people driving around after 6pm looking for parking. 

    2. Parking was my first concern
      Parking was my first concern with the announcement of this building. Parking in this area is already difficult sometimes.

  2. More made-up excuses to spend

    Let see.  A floor for business is not profitable [i.e. makes no business sense] so the city will pay a contractor to add that floor [which makes no business sense].  Sounds like an odd way to make "business ?" decisions.  "Find something that won't work and fund it anyway."  Reminds me of the phrase "We loose money on every sale but we make it up on volume." !!

    And "through a $1 million state grant "will help create new high-tech jobs in the community."  We had a high tech area in the Research Park but the city kept fighting it [all debate was about a "nuclear free zone."] and cost [taxes, rents, never ending regulations] of technology and other business mean they won't and cannot afford to stay.  Because of NU groups create new technology and business but can't afford Evanston.  They have nothing to do nor any benefit from what the Council thinks/claims the city itself is doing for them,

    The claim this will create new tech jobs  sounds like another line they pulled out of their book  "Benefits to Claim When we Want Something."

    1. The Office Myth

      One floor of offices does not constitute an "office" development. South Evanston is the wayward sibling of the CBD and will continue to languish until serious thought is given to serious development. TIF money has always wreaked of favoritism and lacked the scrutiny that inversions are currently drawing. Evanston: fix the streetscapes, creat decent cheap parking, link Howard development to Main Street, draw businesses that actually nurture a "destination" feel and create career winners. Stop wasting money and words. 

  3. We have a lot of TIF

    We have a lot of TIF districts and sense this group isn't going to stop as long as there are spaces to develop and developers. If this is such a naturally great location, why do we need to incent a developer? If this is a loan, what are the terms? If this is a grant, does the city have a property interest in the building?

  4. Any TIF money for West Evanston?

    Just wondering if the Aldermen are planing to approve any TIF money for development in west  Evanston?


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