Evanston aldermen will hold a public hearing tonight on plans to set up a tax-increment financing district to bolster the half-empty Evanston Plaza shopping center at Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue.

The proposal could lead to spending as much as $20 million on improvements to the center over the 23-year life of the tax district.

The plan was approved last month at a meeting of the Joint Review Board, which represents the other local taxing bodies that would see their property tax revenue from the plaza frozen during the life of the TIF.

A report prepared by a city consultant describes the shopping center as a “blighted area” that has seen the value of its property decline over the last five years, while city-wide values have increased.

It says the buildings are in some ways obsolete — with vacant large store spaces only likely to be filled with smaller tenants that would require reconfiguring the space.

And it says aspects of the layout of the property are unsatisfactory — including problematic auto acces and minimal buffering from residential uses.

And it says that utility service to the plaza area is “antiquidated and obsolete.” 

The council won’t vote on the TIF plan tonight, but could vote on it as early as its May 29 meeting.

Related stories

City may spend $20 million on Dempster-Dodge

Evanston Plaza has new owner

Related document

The information packet for the public hearing

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. An urban legend… increased property values.

    Really? "A report prepared by a city consultant describes the shopping center as a "blighted area" that has seen the value of its property decline over the last five years, while city-wide values have increased."

    I question having my tax dollars spent on any consultant that reports city-wide values increasing when Cook County tells us our values have decreased. If crooked Cook is willing to lower our home values (and take a hit in their coffers), where does this 'consultant' find information that our values have increased? I couldn't sell my home for what I paid for in in 1999 let alone what it was valued at during any of the past 5 years. This is just another consultant slanting the numbers so they bolster the argument being made to go forward with a TIF. A total joke.

    1. I must agree

      The city has really screwed up the plaza. This would have bee a much better site for Trader Joes. It had space for the store. It had parking. But our wonderful city, rather than pushing for this site, threw in a couple of million dollars and gave a site to yhem. By the way, it will take closer to 15 years to recover the cities cost in sales tax revenue, not the 3 that Wally claimed beause most of rader Joes' business will be from other Evanston stores.

      Other bad decisions include; a wine bar on Howard and Chicken/Waffle joint on Dempster. The Chicken/Waffle joint has the best shot at succeeding.

      The city should explore all options before jumping into the water. Maybe they could save a few million here and there.

      Considering the faulty consultant report mentioned, you need to wonder if the consultant has some connections in our city government, what he/she was paid, and whether we can get our money back.

      1. Non-Compete with Dominicks

        I agree that the plaza is a good site for the Trader Joe's but I'm pretty certain that the Dominicks has an agreement written into their lease that stores within the plaza cannot be competitors.

  2. To TIF, or not to TIF, that is the question

    Why should the owner who recently purchased this property benefit from a TIF?

    What are the terms and details of the proposed TIF?

    Are there broader benefits to the community?

    Seems like this is a very costly subsidy that is going to benefit the owner of this property at the expense of ALL taxpayers in Evanston?

    Help me and others in Evanston why this is a good idea?

    In concept, the current owner bought this property understanding that he would have to spend money to upgrade the property and attract new businesses. The owner takes a known risk by investing and spending more of HIS money upgrading the facility and benefits from increased rental income and an increase in asset value.

    Why should Evanston residents NOT benefit from increased tax revenues that will help D65, D202, the City of Evanston and Cook County for the next 23 years?? !!!

    23 years is a LONG TIME and a lot of money to be giving away to one owner.

    Again, help me and others understand how and why this makes sense.

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