Hahn doesn't merit city tax subsidy
Tower talk in Evanston has died down recently, with the Fountain Square project tabled until the Plan Commission acts on the larger downtown plan.
But it will be back -- and when it returns, there's one piece of the plan I hope the developers will have withdrawn.
That's their request for a $3 million subsidy from the city to restore the landmark Hahn building next door.
While it would be nice to have the Hahn building restored to glory, it appears there's no payoff in it for the city.
The developers don't seem to think the restored building will generate much more in sales or real estate tax revenue than the unrestored building does today.
A rendering showing planned improvement to the Hahn Building.
So, where's the return on the city's investment?
Yes, the developers say they would agree to a covenant that would block them and any future owner from trying to tear down the Hahn and replace it with something bigger.
But the building already has city landmark status, which means it's entirely within the City Council's discretion to grant or withhold approval for any new project on the site.
The council doesn't have to spend $3 million of our tax dollars to keep the Hahn from being replaced.
The real beneficiaries of keeping a three-story building on that site are the buyers of south-facing condos in the planned 708 Church St. tower.
Preservation of the Hahn building would ensure they keep their views.
If the tower developers don't think the guaranteed views will be worth it to their buyers, then let's leave the Hahn building alone for now and see what plans may emerge for it in the future.