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Including a floor of offices in the planned nine-story mixed use development at 835 Chicago Ave. may end up costing the city $2.9 million in tax subsidies.

The mostly residential rental development is up for approval by City Council Monday night after the developer agreed to lease additional parking for the building.

But a staff memo in the City Council packet indicates the developer believes including the office space the city wants to see in the development will put a $2.9 million hole in the project’s financing.

The memo indicates that the developer plans to ask the city for funds from the recently-approved Chicago-Main Tax Increment Financing District to cover that gap.

The memo justifies the subsidy based on statements from nearby merchants that daytime shopping traffic dropped off in the district after the previous two-story building on the site, which included offices on the second floor, was demolished.

After plans for a condo development on the site failed in the housing market collapse, city officials pushed for a multi-story office development — but the developer was unable to find credit-worthy tenants to support the financing needed for that plan.

The project appeared to be on the verge of approval until complaints from neighbors about the limited amount of parking included in the development led city staff to seek an indefinite delay in a scheduled final vote in May.

In the revised plan up for a vote Monday, the developer will lease 35 spaces in an existing parking lot a half-block away at 935 Chicago Ave., just north of Hemenway United Methodist Church.

Since that doesn’t increase the total parking available in the neighborhood above what was in the developer’s previous plans, it not clear whether the revisedp proposal will quiet the neighbors concerns.

The developer and project supporters have argued that the project needs less than the typical amount of parking because it’s adjacent to two train lines.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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7 Comments

  1. No subsidies

    Using TIF dollars to finance offices for private companies seems like a terrible idea. I'd rather toss this whole deal in the trash than that idea. An unsubsidized CVS there would be better.

  2. Re: Chicago-Main Building – Parking

    I've said it once, I'll say it again – More. Parking. Needed. For. Building.

    I've lived at Kedzie and Hinman since 2003. I've seen the street parking in the area go from plentiful to 0 in that time. Let me be clear. I work from home. I have NO commute. However, I own two vehicles, and one of them is in the garage, while the other is on the street. I search for parking longer now than ever, and with plowing and cleaning 2 days a week at least, it is difficult to find a spot some days. If they get to ignore the minimum required spots per unit, they shouldn't get any other handouts. Hell, pave that spot. Put a parking lot there, raise 2.9 million dollars in one year by charging customers to park and commute, then build a building with enough parking.

    And don't even get me started on the people who will reply: "You have 2 vehicles and no commute? That's your choice!" – Yes, it is. And yes, my building has the minimum required 1 spot per unit as required for all builders building in the hood, so I cope with my choice of a second car, but I can tell you first hand – the parking is already difficult to find.

  3. Again…

    If a developer or a business cannot make a business case for funding through banks or investors why should the City finance the venture?  But Ann Rainey, who seems convinced the AutoBarn deal was essential, will no doubt advocate for this arrangement.

  4. Just say no

    So this won't add spaces, and residents of the proposed building will first scramble for open street parking nearer to them, taking those spaces out of the mix while the rest of us won't be able to access the leased spaces when we don't find parking? 

    1. Reply from the City of Evanston

      From the City offices:

      "The City Council did grant final land use approval for the project this past Monday, July 28th, 2014.

      The developer will next seek approval for TIF funding. At this time, staff anticipates their request for TIF funding would be presented to the Main/Chicago TIF Committe on August 21st and to the Economic Development Committee and the City Council likely in September."

      If you have questions, contact the city here:
      http://www.cityofevanston.org/contact/ 
      –> https://www.publicstuff.com/request/submit?request_type_id=23519&category_id=1035

      -From Calin: It appears they got their limited parking after all. Such a shame. If you disagree with the TIF funding, let the City know now!

  5. Any variance in parking

    Any variance in parking requirements adds to the illegal parking in the entire neighborhood.  And take a look at the extra spaces in the lot up Chicago Avenue.  Can you imagine arriving home at night with a carload of groceries, a few kids, and weariness.  Would you park almost a full block away and make several trips thorugh snow or rain or cold to deliver your goods to your apartment?  It's more likely that you'll park the car illegally for convenience, and the rest of the neighborhood will bear the burden created by the city council.

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