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Update: First Step Toward Dempster-Dodge TIF at Tonight’s City Council Meeting

The city is requesting the suspension of council rules to both introduce and vote on establishing public hearings for the TIF creation.

Evanston aldermen will likely approve two ordinances at tonight’s City Council meeting that will take the first steps toward establish a tax increment financing (TIF) district to assist in the development of the Evanston Plaza shopping center.

In December, in for $8.1 million by the . The shopping center has seen business , leaving in the once-thriving plaza.

The City of Evanston states that the new TIF district will allow them to invest in the plaza’s renovation, and assist with other redevelopment opportunities.

Monday’s ordinances will create a schedule for how the city will move forward in the near future. If both ordinances are adopted, notices will be sent out to properties within 750 feet of the proposed district and a joint review board will meet within 14 days of approval. The joint review board will then have 30 days to decide whether or not to proceed with the creation of the proposed TIF. If they vote to continue, the City of Evanston will schedule a public hearing, and pending successful recommendations, the City Council will then vote to adopt the new TIF.

A target date of May 28 has been set for a potential final City Council vote on the TIF district.

Though planning for the new TIF district has been in the works for some time -- in September, the city authorized up to $80,000 to hire a consultant to study the feasibility of TIF districts at both Evanston Plaza, and Main Street and Chicago Avenue -- the city is looking to move quickly now, requesting the suspension of council rules so they may both introduce and vote on the proposed TIF district creation in a single meeting.

Steve Griffin, director of the City of Evanston’s department of economic and development, said the item was being pushed forward more quickly so the city could help Bonnie as soon as possible.

“We have a larger developer looking to revitalize [Evanston Plaza],” Griffin said, “so we wanted to get that tool in place by the end of the year.”

In both 2005 and 2007, Evanston Plaza was considered for inclusion in the surrounding West Evanston TIF district, but the property was deemed to have a high assess value relative to its level of vacancies. Since then, Cook County has reduced the property’s assessed value.

The city reports it expects the proposed Main Street and Chicago Avenue TIF district to also come before the City Council for a vote within 30 to 45 days.

Correction: The previous article incorrectly stated that the City Council's final vote on the new TIF district would take place tonight. Instead the city will be taking the first step toward TIF creation through two ordinances up for action on tonight's City Council agenda.

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