What Should Move In at Chicago and Main?
In our “Empty in Evanston” series, Patch looks at vacant properties around town. Today, we focus on the southeast corner of Chicago and Main, where city officials are proposing a new TIF district.
City officials recently held the first public hearing for a proposed tax-increment financing (TIF) district at Chicago Avenue and Main Street. The district was created in part to spur development on the vacant plot of land at the southeast corner of the intersection, where a developer plans to construct a mixed-use office and residential building.
As proposed, the TIF district incorporates a stretch of Chicago Avenue from Dempster to Oakton street, as well as parts of Main Street east and west of the intersection with Chicago. Just south of the district is the new, 214-unit luxury apartment complex going up at 737 Chicago Ave.
According to city documents, officials have proposed a budget of $25 million over 23 years for the TIF district, with the majority of that money allocated to utility improvements, structural rehabilitation and public facilities such as parking, streetscaping and enhancements to the CTA and Metra stations.
The vacant lot at the southeast corner of Main Street and Chicago Avenue was last occupied by a two-story retail and office building that was demolished in 2007. A developer planned to build a new, mixed-use commercial and residential building, but failed to make timely payments on the loan and ultimately went into foreclosure.
In 2010, a company called OMS Evanston LLC purchased the foreclosed property for $1.65 million, and tentatively plans to build a $20 to $30 million, nine-story mixed-use retail and office development on the site.
Meeting with neighbors last year, leasing agent Drew Nieman, principal at Colliers International, said he envisions the office space enticing medium-sized businesses and the first floor retail space attracting interest from restaurants, drug stores, banks and small grocery stores.
Several residents expressed concern over whether such a building was worth constructing, arguing that Evanston might already have enough available office space to meet demand and questioning whether an additional property would draw tenants in an already-strained real estate market.
Nieman pointed to the location’s proximity to both CTA Purple Line and Metra train stops as a significant selling point, and argued that there was actually quite little available office space in Evanston.
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