Plans to create a tax increment financing district for parts of Evanston’s Chicago Avenue and Main Street business district drew no complaints at Wednesday night’s Economic Development Committee meeting.

The proposed district would include the vacant lot on the sourtheast corner of the intersection, the CTA and Metra stations and commercial parcels on the south side of Main in the block west of the tracks.

The vacant lot several years ago was proposed as the site for a condominium development that never got off he ground, and more recently has been promoted as the site for a mixed-use retail-office developent that so far has failed to attract sufficient leasing commitments to start construction.

Top: A map of the proposed TIF district. Above: A rendering of the now-stalled proposed office building.

The city’s TIF consultants, Kane, McKenna and Assoicates have concluded that the designated area does qualify as a conservation area under the state TIF statute.

That’s defined as an area “that exhibits risks of becoming blighted.”

A city economic development planner, Johanna Nyden, said the district wasn’t expanded include the north side of Main west of the tracks or other parcels because staff feared the larger area might not qualify for the TIF designation.

The proposal now goes to the City Council for review at its June 11 meeting.

If the project stays on track it would then be approved by the Joint Review Board, composed of local taxing districts, on July 10, return to the City Council for introduction Aug. 13, with final approval scheduled for Sept. 10.

Under the TIF program the city is allowed to capture all of the increase in property tax revenue from the targeted area during the district’s 23-year life and use it to fund projects designed to spur additional development in the district.

Related document

The Chicago-Main TIF memo to the EDC

Related stories

Chicago-Main developer to get city aid

Chicago-Main work moves forward

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Oh brother, not another TIF

    This is absurd!!! I don't like this one bit.

    On the northeast and northwest corners of Main Street stand two newer condo midrise buildings constructed  within the past eight years. Why in the world would this proposed TIF include the existing CTA and the Metra stations? The Metra station was rehabbed about 10 years ago.

    The only so-called blighted area here is the vacant land on the southeast corner. Evanston aldermen in November approved a $20,000  grant for the owners of the vacant land, OMS, which so far has been unable to secure enough commercial tenants to begin construction. 

    Why create a TIF for one undeveloped parcel of land? Just a block south on Chicago is a large commercial and residential development under construction and a TIF wasn't needed for that!! Once that development is completed it will bring in more people and businesses that could jumpstart the stalled office project at the southeast corner of Chicago and Main.

    Two weeks ago the city held a hearing to create a TIF for ONE SHOPPING CENTER that was just purchased by a developer, Bonnie Investments, in a foreclosure. Wally B and the consultants said the Evanston Plaza Shopping Center built 25 years ago is blighted because there are old sewer lines running under Dodge Ave. Really?

    City taxes have gone up in double digits in the past two years. Creating more TIFs creates more tax burden for hard-hit property owners and causes our schools to react accordingly. So far there have been layoffs of special ed and fine art teachers.

    Our city aldermen need to temper their appetite to buy up properties that STILL remain vacant, create TIFS for areas that are clearly not blighted and pay $2 million for a parking lot and then lease it to Trader Joe's for the next 75 years at a one-time fee of $50,000.

    The City Council has talked about expanding the Washingon TIF district to include areas along Davis. A developer has been looking for funds to build a music theater at 1026 Davis. The Council last year voted to approve a zoning change for the music theater.

    Aldermen are the stewards of Evanstonians. Attracting busineses here is a good thing but giving away the store and increasing the already burdened taxpayers is a bad thing. There needs to be sensible balance.

    Taking away tax money to benefit developers of a vacant parcel or a newer shopping center for the next 23 years is too much.

    Cut expenditures and lower our taxes. See how that benefits the community. In case anyone hasn't noticed 44 percent of Cook County homes are underwater.

    Why burden property owners with even higher taxes?

    Time for a change in leadership.

  2. School board members should say NO to the new TIFs!

    Our less than bright school board members in both District 65 and District 202 should say NO to any new TIFS. 

    If they don't understand, they are taking tax dollars away from the school districts and giving it  to the city council, TIF money to basically dole out as patronage.   Why did one council member recent stop the budget approval?  She want to extend the TIF in her ward.  The TIF is done, but the city council wants to suck them dry, before they are returned to the other taxing bodies. 

    Using TIF funds to give out money to Wine and Cheese bars, that is to a private invidual to open up a marginal business, is not a good use of our tax dollars, and yes TIF money are  OUR taxes dollars not a personal Pig bank for city council members.

    I am sick of hearing from Council members its only TIF money we are not using you tax dollars this is total nonsense.  When they take TIF or the increment out we all end up paying more taxes.

    Given the school are capped, for taxes it translated to a loss,

    How many teachers will Distrct 65 lose because of the city's two new TIFS? 

    As an example assume a $500,000 increment for both new TIFs, both school districts are about 60% of taxes, therefore $300,000 about 4 to 5 teachers, are lost.

    Ofcourse some of the less bright in town will claim without the TIF there would be no increment, really, the increment also comes from inflation not the new value, therefore the school district are losing.

    School board members need to wake up to this problem and say NO.

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