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)


Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Here a TIF, there a TIF, everywhere a TIF TIF

    This proposed TIF is just like the one the Council just passed to benefit ONE existing 25-year-old shopping center.

    Let's get real. This TIF is designed to benefit the owner of the vacant lot on the southeast corner of Chicago and Main. The city wants to spend millions for ONE building!!!!

    Taxes have gone up double digits in the past two years. Fees and fines are all up. Have property values increased?

    The City Council really needs to stop creating TIFS that benefit one developer. Millions of dollars from this proposed TIF and the Evanston Plaza TIF will not go to our schools or city services for 23 years but will go to enhance ONE existing shopping center and basicially the proposed office building on Chicago and Main. There are newer condo buildings on the northeast and northwest side of Chicago and Main so why do we need a TIF at that corner?

    A TIF locks in tax revenue for 23 years!!! There are other ways to help a developer secure tenants and construct the office building – tax incentives. This is area is NOT blighted – a condition needed to legally create a TIF.

    There are two offices buildings on Crawford with a high vacancy rate. How about a TIF over there? 

    If the City Council wants to create TIFS all over town what about the Sixth Ward? Why shouldn't we get a share of the pork?

    Get a crackin-a-lackin Alderman Mark Tendam.

  2. Field

    I love the open field that is there now.  Just grass and space.

    There's so little open space along Chicago Ave from South up to Lake, and what little there is belongs to parking lots.  Just having that bit of open, grassy space feels like breathing room.  Instead there will be another building built out to maximum size and properly lines.  The west side is either more buildings built out to the sidewalk, parking lots, or the wall of land and concrete to hold up the train track.

    It's starting to remind me of Sheridan in Chicago from Devon to Hollywood, a tight corridor of buildings, like a tunnel you go through just to get out the other side.

    I know there's taxes to be collected and all the goodness that possible well-thought-out businesses could bring to the corner, but it still feels like a loss.

  3. shrinking fast?

    The article mentions the building is "somewhat smaller". The rendering indicate that one full florr has disappeared as well as the overall sizes of the other floors having been reduced.

    Hmmm… why would you eliminate rentable space that brings in income unless, TIFF or no TIFF, the numbers do not quite work out.

    Maybe, despite the nice graphics on the rendering, the Evanston Technology" building (the name on the building facade up at the roof) does not think they can bring in enough technocrats to fill the space.

  4. TIF Dreams for Chicago & Main

    What this means for those of us living in this neighborhood is more traffic, more congestion, and more noise.  Isn't the Amli development at Chicago and Kedzie bad enough?  Are we going to get more traffic police to deal with the parking problems, drivers running red lights & gliding through stop signs on Hinman? Of course not.  Are we going to get more open space and perhaps even some community gardens?   No way.  Aren't there enough vacancies in downtown Evanston to accomodate business growth?  The proposed design is very unfriendly, cold looking, monstrous and truly ugly.  It reminds me of Godzilla invading my once peaceful neighborhood.  It just makes the area less and less people-friendly.  A few trees that will just get blown over in the wind is truly pathetic.  

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