City Council To Vote On Dempster/Dodge TIF Tonight

Discussion of a possible tax increment financing district at Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue is on the city council's agenda tonight, along with consideration of prohibited parking hours on Davis Street and Sheridan Road.

Evanston's city council is expected to vote tonight on a tax-increment financing district and redevelopment plan for the southwest corner of Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue.

Under a proposal created by the city’s economic development department and consultant Kane, McKenna and Associates, the Evanston Plaza shopping center could benefit from up to $20 million in tax increment financing over the next 23 years.

With a vacancy rate of 52 percent and store sizes too large to attract new tenants, the shopping center has been in decline for years. According to Paul Zalmezak, economic development planner, the TIF district would allow the city to reinvest expected tax gains into the shopping center in order to spur growth and make renovations. 


“Frankly, it’s the strongest tool available for hyperlocal economic development,” he told the council at at a meeting Monday, May 16. “And the value created in the TIF district is recycled directly back into the district.” 

Since the center was recently purchased by Bonnie Management, Zalmezak said a TIF district could be a way to help the new owners attract better tenants.

“We want to incentivize them a little bit and maybe leverage something a little bit above average,” he said.

Part of the problem with the shopping center is its layout, with store sizes that were designed for users that have long since left, like Toys ‘R Us and Blockbuster. A TIF district could give the city funds and power to revamp the layout, according to Robert Rychlicki of Kane, McKenna, and help the city attract new tenants through targeted marketing.

Tonight's city council meeting begins at 7:15 p.m. at the Lorraine Morton Civic Center. Other agenda items include discussion of prohibited parking on Sheridan Road and Davis Street as well as two liquor license applications. Those come from a cocktail bar planned for Howard Street called Ward Eight and a new business on Main Street, to be called The Alcove.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled the last name of Paul Zalmezak, economic development planner for the city of Evanston. We sincerely regret the error.

lucas May 29, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Eric Lieberman May 29, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Council Should Not Vote in Favor of TIF I oppose the creation of a Tax Increment Financing ("TIF") District for the shopping center at Dempster & Dodge for the following reasons: 1. The agenda for tonights City Council Meeting proposes that the regular rules of the council be suspended for this item. The ordinance will be introduced and voted upon at this meeting without the opportunity for public comment or debate. 2. The new owners of the shopping center knew the low occupancy of the center before they bought it. They knew the layout and knew that it would require buildouts to make it more attractive to prospective tenants. They bought it believing that they could turn it around and mke it profitable. They have done this at many other properties in the area. (See http://www.bonniemgmt.com). This is another government subsidy where it is not needed. It is the Evanston tax payer subsiding the profits of a private development company. 3. If the owner bought the property with a promise from Evanston that a TIF would be approved, that needs to be disclosed. Is this just a local version of a Bailout? We know how well that's worked! 4. At the very least, as a condition for the TIF, the city council should require the owner to revive on other spot in Evanston: for example the eye-sore and abandoned former Red Owl / CVS at Dodge and Oakton. Eric Lieberman ejlieberman@gmail.com


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