Evanston aldermen this week took steps to set up a tax increment financing district that could spend as much as $20 million to upgrade the Evanston Plaza shopping center.

Funds for the improvements, which could be spread over the 23-year life of the taxing district, would come from higher property tax payments expected to be generated by the upgraded shopping center.

The vote in favor of the new TIF was unanimous.

Documents provided to the aldermen say the money could be used for activites including addressing enviornmental issues on the site, making utility improvements, rehabbing existing buildings on the property and providing public facilities in the area including parking and streetscaping.

The plaza, on the southwest corner of Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue, has suffered from high vacancy rates for years.

It was purchased by a new owner last December from the bank that had foreclosed on the property.

City officials say the new owner, Bonnie Management, is working to recruit new tenants for the property but needs financial help from the city to upgrade it to make it more attractive to the quality businesses that city officials and neighborhood residents hope to bring to the area.

City consultant Bob Rychlicki of Kane McKenna and the city’s economic development manager, Nancy Radzevich, answer questions about the TIF at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Between 2005 and 2010, the assessed value of the shopping center declined by 20 percent while the value of property in the rest of the city increased by 36 percent.

Vacant storefronts in the center.

The proposal next goes to the Joint Review Board, composed of the city and other taxing bodies affected by the TIF designation, which is scheduled to meet April 12.

A tax increment financing district diverts potential increased tax revenue that would otherwise go to the other taxing bodies in hopes that the funds can be used to stimulate even more tax revenue growth in the future.

The Joint Review Board meeting will be followed by a public hearing and a vote by the City Council to actually create the taxing district, which is scheduled for May 28.

Related document

TIF proposal (.pdf)

Related stories

City moves forward with Dempster-Dodge TIF plans

Owner: Housing not in the cards at Evanston Plaza

Evanston Plaza has new owner

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. This smells of a foul backroom odor – TEA anyone?

    This is wrong.

    The city wants to spend $20 million to upgrade property owned by a private investor?


    Not only that, the city wants to create a TIF for ONE PIECE OF PRIVATE PROPERTY!!!!

    Bonnie Investment bought the Evanston Plaza in a foreclosure, about $4 million less than the previous owner that bought it in 2010. Did Bonnie Investments know city officals would agree to a TIF and a $20 million tax-funded investment?

    Why didn't the city include the shopping center in the west-side TIF created a few years ago?

    TIFS are designed to spur economic development in an area not spur a specific developer to develop property they already own.

    Let Bonnie Investments rehab their own shopping center. They supposedly got a good deal in the shopping center purchase.

    Evanston businesses and property owners are Taxed Enough Already!!!!

    Vote the rascals out!!!

  2. What is the real problem there ?

    I don't know what all the problems they had but I know things I've seen.

    Several times [some years ago I must admit] I went to the shopping center to buy things at stores listed in the Yellow Pages—-and they were gone.  I learned my lesson and only went into the Plazza when I went to KFC—but that is now gone.

    Surely a few businesses to lure would be:

             A clothing store for men and women at the cost level of a Sears or K-Mart

             A men's shoe store [are there enough women's shoe stores ?] like Famous Footware

             A bookstore—for all the talk of need of branch libraries would not a book store make sense ?

             Given the many needs for stores that have goods you have to go to Old Orchard for, there should be enough of these the Plazza can fill the gap with.

    1. What is wrong – sadly, it should be obvious….

      Lots of problems at this site despite the beliefs of the nearby neighbors (see some of the comments regarding the currency exchange/pay day operations directly across the street).

      A food store cannot come in due to lease agreement with Dominicks – one reason Trader Joe's could not come to that site even though it had parking and large empty spaces available

      Office Depot moved out due to theft and that might be a problem for any owner given a perception that this is not the best of sites.

      A history of bankruptcies, even if not all attributed to the site (PharMor, Frank's, etc) does not excite new firms either

      Bookstores are a dying breed or have you not noticed that even the biggest chains are folding or barely hanging on. They seem great, especially the used bookstores but they require very low rent and potential for walk-in traffic not – sit an drink a latte traffic that might never buy a book.

      Clothing stores – well TJ Maxx is reasonably close by and can more easily draw from Skokie and how many clothing stores do you find anymore at Howard or Oakton shopping centers, on Dempster or main or even downtown, let alone Central Street (which can draw from Wilmette).

      Draw a circle around most of Evanston business districts with using both a 2 and 5 mile radius and then draw a similar circle around either Old Orchard or, even, Lincolnwood Town Center. Notice that the large circle (if not the smaller) often goes out into the lake, etc where few shoppers live when drawn around the Evanston business districts and those around OO or equivalent even encompass a highway (Edens) and reduce need for driving across town, etc., let alone make it easier for those further north or south to get there

      And then ,like it or not, there are the dmeographics of the population inside the circles you just drew. Sad but true ( Note: I live within those circles and suffer the same fate), but a business person is not in it for charitable reasons, but to male a living. Thus, few will come rushing in except for what, if you go there, now exists at Howard and Western – a series of "Dollar Stores"

  3. 20 million more dollars?

    I hope Evanston officials start planting money trees too. Otherwise, does anyone want to buy a nice house on the north side of Evanston?

    With my taxes up 11% in two years and my family income going down,  we're going to have to sell.

    Next year's elections can't come soon enough.

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