Evanston aldermen chose Monday to delay a final vote on the Dempster-Dodge tax increment financing district to try bring the center’s anchor tenant on board with the plan.

With one alderman absent, it appeared the TIF proposal had the five votes needed to pass, but one supporter, Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, suggested the delay.

Holmes said she was concerned about whether the anchor tenant, a Dominick’s supermarket, would agree to waive provisions in its lease that allow it to block many other businesses — like a bowling alley or other family entertainment business — that might compete for parking.

Another supporter, Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said the parking restrictions are unrealistic in the half-vacant center.

“You could roll a bowling ball through the parking lot and not hit anything,” Rainey added.

Although Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said she’d rather talk to Dominick’s with the incentives available through the TIF already in place, the aldermen voted 5-3 in favor of the delay.

Top and above: The outlot building at the shopping center — many vacancies and temporary tenants, like the Evanston library’s summer storefront.

Three aldermen voiced broader reservations about the TIF, which would capture any increase in property tax revenue from the center for the 23-year-life of the TIF and use those funds for projects designed to enhance the economic value of the property.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, claimed that the proposal doesn’t meet state requirements for a TIF designation because it includes just a single parcel of already developed land.

And Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, said he shared Burrus’ concerns.

But the city’s TIF consultant, Bob Rychlicki of Kane McKenna, said the proposal does meet state standards, and provided examples of several similar projects in other communities.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said the plan was insufficient — in that it doesn’t specify what the site is going to look like when the TIF’s work is done.

But Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said the Howard-Ridge TIF approved in 2004 didn’t have a specific plan either — and didn’t describe the high-rise apartment building at 415 Howard that’s become the key to that development.

And Rainey said other TIFs in town that have have been highly successful didn’t end up developing in the ways that were originally envisioned.

Holmes said she strongly supports the TIF, but “would like to see everybody on the same page and have a large majority on the council behind it” — in voting for a four-week delay in the decision.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Dominick’s can block development?

    Dominick's can block development in Dempster-Dodge if  that new development competes with them for parking?

    That is insane. Who signed that agreement? Who runs the numbers on parking and makes a decision as to whether something conflicts with the agreement?

    Giving a grocery store national chain the right to block development that doesn't suit their purposes is just plain bad city management.

    How many other of these types of agreements are out there? Can Evanston Now expose these as well?

    1. Lease restrictions

      Lease restrictions had nothing to do with the closing of Toys 'R' Us, Frank's, AJ Wright, China Buffet, Dominos, Blockbuster, Washington Mutual…

      The landlord tenant contract is what we like to call a "business agreement."  Terms are negotiated and agreements are reached (or not).  Maybe you have heard of this.  Lease restrictions are quite common.  Paninos is a small local business and they have one.  Maybe we can "expose" them too!  Gee, an Italian restaurant doesn't want their landlord to open another Italian restaurant right next door.  What is this, rocket science?  Radio Shack and the cleaners probably have restrictions too.

      1. No one said that “lease

        No one said that "lease restrictions" caused the closings of businesses like Franks. What has been said is that lease restrictions may be preventing new businesses of a different scope and nature to open in the plaza. Another Radio Shack would probably go out of business too.  Maybe that plaza is a great place for a bowling alley ? We may never know because Dominicks wont "allow" it.

        Lease restrictions are quite common? So that makes it acceptable in this case?

        You would probably be the first person to complain of big government overreach if the City had a restriction on use of land, but somehow when a private business manages to get a lease restriction that stifles development, it is fine because it is the "free market" in operation and "quite common".

  2. So now we have KFC blocking development of their shuttered store

    because Yum Brands doesn't want competition from other restaurants, and Dominick's blocking development of the rest of the plaza because they apparently need enough parking spaces to accommodate five times more customers than have ever set foot in the store.

    So sad that this area of the city, which is in such desperate need of development, is having growth blocked by these huge conglomerates who don't give a d*** about the communities in which they do business.  It's all about the money…

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