Central Street merchants are seeking public comment on plans to create a special service area taxing district to help market and improve their Evanston shopping district.

Scott Goldstein from the city’s consultant on the plans, Teska Associates, presented the proposal at a 7th Ward meeting Thursday evening and two additional meetings about the proposal are planned in coming weeks.

The proposed district would include properties facing Central Street from just west of Central Park Avenue east to Ashland Avenue as well as properties along Green Bay Road from Isabella Street to just north of Lincoln Street.

A map of the proposed SSA area.

Evanston already has two SSAs — for Downtown Evanston and the Main-Dempster Mile.

Until now a volunteer group, the Central Street Business Association, has handled marketing for the district and has competed for $10,000 annual grants from the city for beautification projects.

Goldstein said the $30,000 feasibility study now underway indicates that the SSA on Central might be able to generate a budget of about $120,000 a year — enough to hire a part-time executive director and conduct a variety of programs.

The SSA would have a governing board of merchants, property owners and residents, he said, and its budgets would be subject to approval by the City Council.

He said the cost, in the form of an increase in property tax bills, might amount to about $12 per month for a resident with a typical two-bedroom condo, $20 a month for a typical small store and $40 per month for the owner of a two-story commercial building.

Asked whether it could fund a service to remove snow from sidewalks through the district, he said the planners are looking into that, but that it is “very complicated” because of insurance and other issues.

The additional meetings to discuss the proposal are planned for 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, at Backlot Coffee, 2006 Central St., and 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 4, at Old Neighborhood Grill, 2902 Central St.

More information about the plans is available online at

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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