Evanston aldermen tonight are scheduled to vote on hiring a consultant to evaluate the merits of creating two new tax increment financing districts in the city.

One district under consideration would include the Evanston Plaza Shopping Center at Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue. The center, which has suffered from high vacancy rates for years, is currently bank-owned, with the bank seeking buyers for the property.

The other district would included a so-far-unspecified area in the Main Street and Chicago Avenue shopping district. The southeast corner of Main and Chicago currently is being proposed for a retail and office development on the vacant lot that was to have been the site of a condominium project that failed to get off the ground after the condo market collapsed.

The aldermen are scheduled to approve an $80,000 contract with Kane McKenna and Associates of Chicago for the consulting work. The firm was one of six that responded to a request for proposals for the project.

In a memo to aldermen, Community and Economic Development Director Steve Griffin says the city is encouraging new economic development projects in the two areas and that, but for TIF or other incentives incentives, the new developments might not be able to be completed.

The consultant’s contract will also involve reviewing the performance of the city’s five existing tax increment financing districts.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. BofA would benefit from TIF at taxpayers expense

    I don't like this one bit.

    Why didn't the City of Evanston consider a TIF for the Evanston Plaza Center when Freed & Associates owned it and before the developer began fighting Bank of America's foreclosure lawsuit?  Now that BofA purchased the Plaza Center in an auction for $12.3 million the City of Evanston wants to declare a TIF and help the bank at the expense of hard-hit Evanston taxpayers?

    Why should Evanston taxpayers and homeowners assist BofA in developing the Plaza Center? BofA is the largest lender in the U.S.  and has been involved in bid rigging schemes against municipalities, hospitals and school districts (see below). 

    The other proposed TIF is at the Main and Chicago intersection. Well, two corners at that intersection have been developed. The southeast corner is vacant land and was purchased by OMS, LLC almost two years ago. OMS is proposing mixed-use retail-office buildings. This plan seems interesting but I don't think creating a TIF for seemingly one undeveloped parcel of land at the corner of a busy intersection is wise or necessary.

    The City Council in recent months has been gobbling up real estate around the high school and the Howard Street corridor for hundreds of thousands of dollars and yet we have nothing to show for it. Meanwhile, the City Council has closed down branch libraries, considered but backed away from shutting down the Chandler Rec Center and is considering selling off building and land assets that house art centers and theatre groups in order to balance the budget.

    I support and commend the results of most of our current TIF Districts that have improved Evanston's economy. But I don't support these TIFs. We have enough TIFs and it appears that the two most recent TIFs are not producing good results. There are other incentives the city can use to help develop the Evanston Plaza Center and the southeast corner of Main and Dodge.

    We are taxed enough already, D65 and D202 are cash-strapped and is not certain if the state will pay the bills. D65 is trying to ram through a NEW FIFTH WARD SCHOOL that will cost us tens of millions more and the city budget is in the red. Taking more money out of the general tax coiffures to help a bank and a developer that has owned vacant land for almost two years is not worth it and will only worsen our immediate tax woes. The three successful Evanston TIFS have not matured and it would probably be unwise to close the books on them.  

    Consider these facts:

    * BofA and UBS settled out of court with the State of Illinois in a bid rigging scheme in the municipal bond derivative market. Illinois in July agreed to a multi-million settlement with JP Morgan Chase in which The City of Evanston will receive some of the settlement money.  In some cases, JP Morgan and other financial institutions allegedly communicated with one another to fix prices and transaction terms.  – http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:DnQScXdTXWQJ:articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-07-08/business/ct-biz-0708-jpmorgan-20110708_1_jpmorgan-chase-bid-rigging-charges-municipal-bond+%22bank+of+america%22+%22bid+rigging%22+%22lisa+madigan%22+%22evanston%22&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    * BofA owned Countrywide loans, which was sued by Illinois and other states for deceptively putting borrowers in loans they didn't understand.

    * BofA is one of several banks now negotiating with Illinois and other states over foreclosure practices might be sued if a settlement is not reached – http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:7296vzRLdLwJ:articles.sun-sentinel.com/2011-06-22/business/fl-foreclosure-banks-20110622_1_banks-service-loans-principal-reductions-settlement-talks+%22bank+of+america%22+%22settlement%22+%22lisa+madigan%22&cd=12&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    * BofA., the largest U.S. lender, "significantly hindered" a federal review of its foreclosures on loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration, according to U.S. regulators – http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2011-06-14/business/fl-bank-of-america-foreclosure-20110614_1_servicers-mortgage-loans-fha-loans

    * The City of Evanston apparently has a Bank of America account – http://www.cityofevanston.org/assets/Bank%20of%20America_Credit%20Card%20Statment_Period%20Ending%204-30-2011.pdf

    And the City Council wants to shell out $80,000 for a consultant to see if a TIF District for the Evanston Plaza area that would benefit BofA is worth it? No, let BofA use its own funds to develop the Plaza Center. And stop negotiating annual pay raises to government unions and cutting back on branch libraries, rec and art centers, Ecology Center etc.

  2. TIF Districts

    Sounds like staff have already determined that the two sites should be considered for TIF. So why pay a consultant to confirm their research?

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