Evanston’s Economic Development Committee is scheduled to hear three requests for financial help tonight — two from businesses and one from a non-profit.

The Margarita Inn at 1566 Oak Ave. is seeking a hotel-motel tax sharing agreement which could provide up to $230,000 in tax rebates to help finance rehabilitation of the 41-room hotel as well as ongoing operations.

The hotel was built in 1927 as a residence for businesswoman — and some rooms still have shared baths and lack air conditioning.

Owner Michael Pure wants to upgrade those rooms and make other improvements to the building at an estimated cost of $2 million and has lined up bank financing for the project.

The inn now has occupancy levels substantially below the north shore average, and city staff believes the upgrades will substantially increase hotel tax revenue to the city.

It’s proposing that the city grant the inn a rebate of half of the excess over current tax revenue it generates for up to the next five years.

In a memo the staff notes that the rebate approach would ensure that the city would not be out-of-pocket on the project, but would still be able to support the rehabilitation efforts.

The second commercial project is a request for $200,000 for rehab work at the proposed Peckish One brew pub on Howard Street. (More about that proposal here.)

And, the Music Institute of Chicago is scheduled to have a prelimiary discussion with EDC members about ways the city might help with its plan to relocate its headquarters to the lower level of the former Marshall Field’s building at 1702 Sherman Ave.

The plan will bring about 34 new jobs to the downtown area — with 19 moving from Music Institute offices in Wilmette and 15 from the institute’s existing location on Dempster Street in Evanston.

The space will also include a 150-seat black-box theater, classrooms and therapy rooms.

The institute has signed a 10-year lease for the space and plans to spend more than $800,000 on build-out costs.

The institute is seeking so-far unspecified aid from the tax increment financing district that includes the former Marshall Field’s building.

A city staff memo notes that the city collects a 4-percent tax on amusement tickets, but that non-profit groups like the institute are currently exempt from that tax.

Top: Margarita Inn owner Michael Pure.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. “New” jobs?

    I'd respectfully suggest that we refrain from calling jobs "new" when they've just been transferred from one locale to another — and especially when they've merely moved several blocks within the same town.

    We're all anxious to see genuine job creation here in Evanston (and in Illinois and our nation generally, I trust) but when folks who are already employed simply change their office address, that does not signify economic growth. It's good for Evanston if those 15 employees of the Music Institute move here from a few miles north, because (presumably) they may spend more money here on lunches, etc. But the 19 people who already hold jobs here don't represent a statistical gain of any kind for Evanston and shouldn't be counted on anyone's list of new jobs created here. 

    It's important, here in Evanston and nationally, that we do a better job of measuring job growth — assessing how many new jobs we're really adding, what sorts of jobs they are, and who is filling them (for instance, how many of our jobs are held by Evanston residents). And, if we're really trying to confront our unemployment problem, locally or nationally, when we call a job "new," it should represent a position that had not previously existed, or at least was now filled by a new worker because the previous employee had retired or been promoted.

    The creation of new (and adequately compensated) jobs is the toughest but most critical task we face. We need to start by acknowledging what that actually means.

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