A proposed tax-increment financing (TIF) district at Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue and another proposed TIF district at Chicago Avenue and Main street could soon bring the total number of TIF districts in the city to seven.
On Monday night, aldermen are expected to open the public hearing for the proposed TIF district at Chicago and Main and vote on the creation of the other proposed district, which encompasses the Evanston Plaza shopping center at the southwest corner of Dempster and Dodge.
The city council on the Dempster/Dodge TIF two weeks ago, when aldermen considered a motion to suspend council rules in order to introduce and vote on the TIF plan at the same meeting. According to the proposal from Kane, McKenna and Associates, Evanston Plaza could benefit from up to $20 million in tax increment financing over the next 23 years. Their plan proposes a revamped layout with smaller store sizes to attract new businesses to the shopping center, which had a 52% vacancy rate as of January 2012.
A vote on the TIF district was delayed, however, because fourth ward Alderman Don Wilson and ninth ward alderman Coleen Burrus voted against the motion to suspend council rules, an action that would require a unanimous vote.
“There’s still a lot of questions that need to be answered,” Wilson said, explaining his vote after the meeting.
Wilson said he wanted to know how much money, if any, the city would have to put out up front to get the TIF district going. Furthermore, he said he wanted a specific plan on how the money would be spent by developer Bonnie Management, which recently purchased the shopping center at Dempster and Dodge where the TIF district is proposed.
"I have not been convinced that a TIF is needed,” he said.
The budget for the proposed TIF district at Chicago and Main is also estimated at $20 million, according to another plan from Kane, McKenna. That money would be used to support the development of mixed-use office and retail space, as well as some streetscape improvements. Designed to bring back daytime foot traffic that was lost when two office buildings at the intersection were demolished, the plan also suggests constructing a parking garage at the southeast corner of Main and Chicago, which would accommodate Metra and CTA commuters as well as shoppers.
In addition to the proposed TIF districts at Dempster and Dodge and at Chicago and Main, a third TIF district may also be in the works. In February, the city council authorized another contract with Kane, McKenna to study the downtown commercial area west of the CTA/Metra viaducts and assess its viability as a new or amended TIF district.