Evanston city officials are moving ahead with plans to create new tax increment financing districts to spur development in two neighborhood shopping districts.

One new district would target the Evanston Plaza shopping center at Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue.

The proposed area of the Dempster-Dodge TIF is shown in grey on this map prepared by the city.

The other would cover much of the neighborhood shopping district around the intersection of Main Street and Chicago Avenue.

The proposed area of the Chicago-Main TIF is shown in grey on this map prepared by the city.

The city’s Economic Development Committee reviewed maps for the two proposed districts at a meeting Wednesday night.

Aside from a suggestion from Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, that the Dempster-Dodge TIF be expanded to stretch as far north as Lake Street, committee members raised no objections to the proposal.

The area Holmes wants to add to the new TIF is already part of the existing West Evanston TIF, and it would have to be split off from the existing TIF to be included in the proposed new one.

City staff presented a schedule for approval of the new tax increment financing districts that would seek approval from the other taxing bodies affected by May, with final City Council approval scheduled for July.

The Evanston Plaza shopping center has new owners who are hoping to find new tenants for its many vacant storefronts.

The city is also working with developers to bring a combination office-retail building to the now vacant lot on the southeast corner of Main and Chicago.

City officials believe the new TIF districts could help achieve redevelopment goals in both neighborhoods.

A TIF district lets the city capture any incremental growth in property tax revenue within the district’s boundaries during the 23-year life of the district and use it to spur economic development in the area.

The approach requires other taxing bodies, like local schools, to forego increased revenue now, in hopes of receiving even more tax money down the road after the redevelopment projects are complete and the TIF district is dissolved.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. These TIFS means more of a tax burden, not worth it

    This does not look good.

    These proposed TIFS would suck more tax money away from our school districts and city services at a time when the state is broke and property owners are taxed enough as their property values consistently decline year after year as city, school, county and state taxes rise. D65 wants to build a new Fifth Ward school at a cost of $48 million and then later on this year plans to RAISE our taxes to meet a projected budget deficit!!!!!! Evanston raised taxes 11 percent in the past two years and Democrats on the state level more than doubled our income taxes.

    Although I agree TIFs are a valuable tool to spur economic growth these two TIFS seem too much in this economic environment and too oriented to specific developers. I don't have all the facts but it appears aldermen want to create these TIFS to benefit three developers who already OWN the properties in question.

    TIFS are designed to spur economic development in an area not spur a specific developer to develop property they already own.

    Bonnie Investments in December bought the Evanston Plaza in a foreclosure for $8.1 million from Bank of America that bought the strip mall last year for $12.35 million. So why do aldermen NOW think a TIF that benefits only the shopping center is necessary?

    Meanwhile, aldermen want to create a TIF that covers vacant land owned by OMS in which it won approval to build an office building on the southeast corner of Main and Chicago. Aldermen in October tried to give OMS the first of two $20,000 grants but company officials declined, saying they were having problems securing tenants. Aldermen the following month approved the second $20,000 grant to OMS, which I presume is still having a difficult time finding tenants in order to start building. 

    So why do aldermen want to create these TIFS that will last 23 years to benefit these two developers? Are we going to keep tax money generated from this shopping center and office building/vacant land out of our school system for that long? There are other incentive programs the city could use to assist these developers but creating a TIF just for them is overkill.

    Now aldermen want to expand a downtown TIF to benefit another developer who has already won city approval to build a music theater. What gives? Without the TIF will the developer walk? Was this developer aware the Evanston Economic Developement Committee was considering adding his property to an existent TIF? This is more tax money that won't go to our city services and schools for decades.

    On top of all this, the city for the last several years has been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars gobbling up properties in TIFS along the Howard Street corridor and the Fifth Ward and so far nothing has come of it with the exception of a Chicago theater that made a VERBAL agreement to relocate to Evanston.

    How many TIFS does Evanston need?  The TIFS that were created before the economic collapse were successful because it was easy to find commercial tenants and people interested in buying condos. The economic environment is way different now.

    You could build it but they probably won't come.

    Consider that while 46 states lowered their unemployment rate in 2011, Illinois was the only state that saw it's unemployment rate increase despite the largest tax raise in the state's history.

    Our local and state governments can't spend its way out of this mess. The problem starts at the top involving state-related issues such as the unsustainable government union pensions and the chronic spending and tax increases.

    We need new fiscal conservative leadership in Evanston, Cook County and Illinois. Then we need consistent good economic news. Then people and businesses will feel comfortable to take a chance and spend again.

    Until then, more TIFS now will just add more of a tax burden on property owners and businesses – the last thing they need.

  2. TIF Are they needed–esp. where planned—and fair/effective

    I assume many people wonder about all the TIFs the city creates, if they are really needed at all, if they are created for reasons not inline with purpose TIFs came about, if created for favor of ill purposes or to support purposes/people that are not valid, do they actually create business [that last], increase business revenue, increase taxes,  and will taxpayers, as opposed ot special interests, ever recover the costs.

    City government tell us to just 'trust them' does not assure me.

    A simple statement—to at least get people started at reviewing—is at:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_increment_financing


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