City looks at how to fix failed TIF

Properties along Church Street included in the TIF. (Google Maps)

Evanston's Economic Development Committee tonight is scheduled to consider possible solutions to stimulate economic development on the city's west side -- including possible revisions to the West Evanston Tax Increment Financing District.

The lack of increase in property values in the area has left the city with hardly any incremental tax revenue to use in financing further development.

And a highly restrictive form-based zoning code adopted to control development in the district prescribes development types that a staff memo says "are misaligned with current market realities."

The TIF district, created in 2005, runs along the former Mayfair rail spur from Simpson Street to just south of Greenleaf Street.

For example, the photo above shows the Church Street Village townhouse development on the left and the former National Awards industrial property just to the right of the townhomes.

The staff memo says numerous developers have considered purchasing the National Awards property to redevelop for multi-family housing -- but the form-based code would require the developer to build a new street through the property and limits the number of housing units the could be built..

The city had anticipated that it would be able to cover at least part of the cost of the street with revenue from the TIF -- but the TIF has failed to yield the funds to make the possible.

And developers have concluded they can't profitably build on the site if they have to use nearly half the property for a street and pay for the street as well.

The staff memo suggests several possible options, including terminating and re-establishing the TIF, amending it to add new parcels and reviewing the tax code classifications of underperforming parcels.

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