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City asked to share ramp relocation cost

The owners of the Chase Bank tower at 1603 Orrington Ave. are asking the City of Evanston to pick up more than 40 percent of the cost of relocating the ramps to the building’s parking garage.

The owners of the Chase Bank tower at 1603 Orrington Ave. are asking the City of Evanston to pick up more than 40 percent of the cost of relocating the ramps to the building’s parking garage.

The ramp project is part of a larger redevelopment planned for the base of the tower building that would add 13,610 square feet of new ground floor commercial space to the site.

The proposal, scheduled for discussion at tonight’s City Council Planning and Development Committee meeting, says the city would pick up $1.25 million of the $3.05 million cost of the ramp construction project. That’s down from over $1.5 million proposed in a letter from the building owners to the city in January.

The building owners, Lowe Enterprises and Golub & Company, say the new retail space should generate nearly $200,000 in new sales, liquor and property tax revenue for the city each year.

In addition, eliminating the existing long ramps parallel to Orrington Avenue will let the city add about 16 new on-street parking spaces.

David Reifman, the owners’ attorney, says "the economics of the project cannot support the full cost" because of the relatively small amount of new retail space involved.

The new ramp would be perpendicular to the street and located just north of the tower building. The plan would also add 24 off-street parking spaces between the tower building and the existing two-story 1629 Orrington Ave. building that formerly housed the Borders bookstore. A new retail building to be added to the site would conceal the new surface parking from the street.

Under the proposed agreement the city would pay the developer $625,000 from tax increment financing district funds when the ramp is completed. The other half of the city’s share would be paid from the additional sales tax revenue generated by the retail project over a period of nine years after its completion.

City officials say relocation of the garage ramp should help revitalize the business district along Orrington Avenue.

The plan for new retail space around the tower was initially approve by the City Council in June 2005. Last December several aldermen objected to the idea of a city contribution to the cost when they granted the developer an extension of time until next month to complete the work.

If the aldermen agree to help fund the project now they’ll also have to approve another extension to actually do the work.

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