TIF dreams revised for Chicago-Main


Evanston aldermen this week started back down the path to create a tax increment financing district for the shopping area around Chicago Avenue and Main Street.

The new proposal expands the territory included in the TIF, answering concerns from merchants in the district that led aldermen to pull a previous version of the TIF plan in June.

As shown on the map at left, prepared by Evanston Now from city TIF documents, the original proposed boundaries, in the red tint, focused on the area south of Main Street.

The new boundaries would encompass that area plus the area shown in yellow on the map, expanding the district to include more property north of Main Street.

Both proposals include railroad rights of way that extend beyond the limits of the map.

In each case the boundaries are shaped to focus on commercial and industrial property and exclude residential properties and recently redeveloped commercial buildings.

A primary focus of both plans is the vacant lot on the southeast corner of Main and Chicago.

The 1920s-vintage two-story retail building that once stood there was torn down in 2007 after the city approved plans for a nine-story condominium development on the site.

But the condo project went into foreclosure, members of the family involved in the development had a falling out, and a new developer acquired the property and received city support last year to try to lure office tenants to a planned new structure at the site.

City staff believe, based largely on the success of transit-oriented commercial development in downtown Evanston, that the Main-Chicago intersection can also become a focus of office development because, like downtown, it has stations for both the Metra and CTA.

The office development is still trying to line up the tenants it would need to get off the ground.

And the latest renderings of the project, included in the TIF documents presented to City Council on Monday, show a somewhat smaller building than had been considered last year.

The latest plan envisions 46,000 square feet of office space, that could bring 300 new office workers to the neighborhood, in a building with a total of 130,00 square feet, including public parking and ground-floor retail uses.

Top: A rendering of the current version of the proposed Chicago-Main office building. Above: The design as it looked last year.

The tax increment finance district would allow the city to capture all the increased revenue from any increase in property values during the 23-year life of the TIF, rather than sharing it with other taxing bodies, and use the captured funds on redevelopment projects.

A staff memo envisions a total of $25 million in spending, or a little over $1 million per year. The largest spending categories would be

  • Utility improvements at $6 million.
  • Rehabilitation of existing public and private structures at $5.5 million.
  • Land acquisition, site preparation and related work at $5 million.
  • Public facilities, including parking and streetscapes at $4.5 million.

The staff report suggests that improving the two rail stations and making it easier for passengers to transfer between the two lines could provide a major boost to the area, and the Regional Transportation Authority awared the city a grant to do preliminary planning for possible station improvements.

The next step for the new proposal is review at a meeting of the Joint Review Board of taxing districts that would be affected by the TIF designation. That meeting is scheduled for Oct. 2.

After a public hearing by the City Council later this fall, staff anticipates the City Council could take a final vote on the TIF designation at its Dec. 10 meeting.

Related stories

Chicago-Main TIF plan pulled for likely expansion (6/12/12)


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