City plans to subsidize new bar on Howard

629-31 Howard St.

The three-story 629-31 Howard St. building, just east of the police outpost.
Evanston aldermen tonight are scheduled to vote on plans to use city and federal funds to subsidize establishment of a new wine bar and cocktail lounge in a city-owned building on Howard Street.
The bar, called Ward Eight, after the 8th Ward that includes Howard, is a project of Chicago entrepreneurs Anne Carlson and Cody Modeer.
Community and Economic Development Director Steve Griffin says they approached the city last September about opening a wine bar in Evanston, and, working with Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, came up with the plan to locate it in the three-story building the city acquired a year ago at 692-31 Howard, next to the Howard Street police outpost.
Four inter-related proposals to be voted on by the City Council tonight would:

  • Let the couple rent a two-bedroom apartment over the bar for $958 a month for the next year.
  • Provide a $130,000 loan from federal Community Development Block Grant funds for bar furnishings and fixtures to be repaid over 10 years at 4 percent interest with monthly payments of $1,316.19.
  • Provide a $100,000 grant funded by general obligation bonds to be repaid from tax increment finance district revenue to upgrade the retail space with new bathrooms, air conditioning and electrical work.
  • Provide a five-year lease on the first floor space with an option to purchase the entire building after three years. The lease would be rent-free in the first year, with the $24,000 a year to be paid in the second and third years applicable as a downpayment on purchase of the property for a total of $362,650 at the end of the third year.

The $362,650 purchase price would almost, but not completely, cover the $237,650 the city paid to acquire the building and improvements it plans to make to the property.

An architect's rendering of plans for the interior of the new bar.
Plans for the wine bar show a space with eight bar stools, three small tables, three large booths and an area with lounge-style seating.

The aldermen are also scheduled to approve liquor licenses for three new establishments tonight -- Creperie Saint Germain, in the space at 1512 Sherman Ave. formerly occupied by Donatella Mediterranean Bistro, Todoroki, at 524-26 Davis St., and World of Beer, at 1601 Sherman Ave.

Comments

City Subsidy of New Bar

I know the City wants to use that building, but I am opposed to a subsidy of a private business by the City. And subsidizing alcohol on Howard Street seems even worse, even though it's next door to the Outpost.
Stop spending money!

Worst yet!

I never thought the city could come up with worse gifts but this is surely one.
A bar !   Doesn't the city have enough problems without paying for a bar.   Maybe they could provide tax relief to EVERYONE including business and residents instead of picking such hair-brain shemes.

Let's drink to the property tax bill!!

well, at least we will have another place to throw down some drinks when the property tax bill arrives.
 I wonder if Wally will accept "love" as payment in lieu of tax money?  Considering love is all that it takes.
 
 

How about adding a printing press, so they can print more money?

How about adding a printing press, so the city can print more money? 
It would be nice to see some positive development in that area of town, but how is the city so sure the bar will survive 2-3 years and buy the property--let alone 10 years to repay the loan?  Rent free for a year on an improved property seems like a dream for the business owners. 
Restaurants/bars are risky investments, and many have come and gone in our community in less than a year from opening.  What happens if the owners close up shop, the property is vacant, and the loan is never repaid?

Public/Private Investment

Can anyone ballpark what this would cost them to do through a private institution of investors versus doing this with the CDBG funds?
A comparison of interest rates, amount of capital given, rent for personal use, etc? I'm all for adding a place to grab a drink on Howard right by the train station, because Howard can be a great area for everyone in the neighborhood, but if there is going to be money spent on economic development, it would be prudent to see the reasons why it makes more sense for the COE to back them than a bank or group of investors. 

I can't agree more

Christian,
I can't agree more with that approach. Problem is that the banks are tight now. There is nothing to ballpark because the chances of bank loans/ business start up loans just don't exist these days.
Sad to say, the banks got us into this mess and they have no interest/ concern for getting us out. All we have left is our own City Goverment to help us get out of this hole.
But don't worry, like the comment from Jen, we'll all have a new place to numb ourselves when our property tax bill comes.

I can agree more

I wouldn't blame it on the banks.  What is the business plan here?  Has anyone considered whether a "wine bar" on Howard Street will be able to survive?  Is there a market for a wine bar in that particular area?
Note, there are some strange issues in the proposal, e.g., 10 year term loan, but the lease is only for 5 years, the first year of which is free.  What is the security interest here?  And will there be a personal guaranty from the business owners?
Long story short, this should only be approved only if the business proposes have scantily clad waitresses in plaid skirts serving the wine and cocktails.  Otherwise, I say vote it down.
PS, I love how our property tax dollars are used.  Dear Wally, thank you sir for the nearly 20% increase in my property taxes, may I have another?

I can't agree more

The business plan has been discussed and being submitted to the council this evening. Perhaps you should read it before jumping to conclusions. And yes, you can blame the current lock down on credit as on banks.
Howard has so much potential that it reaks of it. Unlike downtown Evanston, Chicago folks have a much easier time getting in and out of Howard. Today a wine bar, soon a bakery, and hopefully a theater in the near future. All of which requires special attention by the Alderman and City Council to support this stuff.

Kev gets it!

The area needs to get some good stable businesses.  It deserves to be patronized, it is an area with great potential.  This is just one more step in the positive steps that have been taken in the area.  We'd all love to be able to wave a magic wand and make it the most desireable area in Evanston.  It takes having businesses that patrons want to go to, and this is one more that I'd go to. The plans for this area are really shaping up and I'm proud of the hard work that city alderman and employees are doing to attract business to this area.

Agree with you both

I agree with you both, the leases seem bizarre and the terms a little too soft considering restaurants/bars are very risky investments for small businesses, but I am glad to see special attention and I am glad to see action. I'll read over the proposal tomorrow night when I have some time, but if either of you see something that you like/dislike, it would help us out who are busy to see some analysis of the proposal that isn't just worries or cheerleading, which we all fall into from time to time. 

Just needed to say that all

Just needed to say that all the fussing about banks should at least in part be directed at the losers who don't repay their loans.  Can you blame someone for being a bit gunshy about lending money when huge swaths of the general population, both businesses and individuals, think it is a-ok to skip out on their debts?  Granted some are legitimately in trouble, but up to 30% of mortgages (one form of debt) end in foreclosure because people CAN pay but choose not to.  That is all.

Where's the market for

Where's the market for this?
Who in their right mind is going to drive to Howard Street, instead of going downtown to one of many fabulous places which are all withing walking distance of appealing shopping and entertainment (theaters)? Many people in their right mind don't want to drive to Howard street, period, let alone park their car there.
Certainly you can't park on Howard and then walk to anywhere else that might be along the lines of this type of establishment. I get that the objective is to start somewhere and build up, but this doesn't seem like a good anchor business to gentrify with. Hopefully that rumored theater business takes off eventually, in this area, which may help.
But how long at $1,316.19/mo payments for fixtures before this business goes belly up? In year two, only twelve months after launch, they need to start paying $2,000 more than that per month.
Has anyone discussed with the City of Chicago how they are going to do their part to help gentrify the area, at least enough to make this business successful and/or this area a destination?

Okay

First problem, you're assuming people are driving to a wine bar. Hopefully the individuals who would be regular patrons would be intelligent enough to take the El, which is conveniently located and means you can drink a bit more. If they designate a driver for a group, parking at the Howard El stop has always been an option for my friends and I when we go downtown to drink, and we have always come back the next morning to see the car safe and sound. So please, spare me the part where you think Howard is any rougher of a corridor than most parts of the city of Chicago.
Second, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good; if someone wants to build a wine bar there, then they absolutely should go for it. Whether they get tax dollars to live above the bar and decorate is another question.
If the City can help our earned reputation as a business-unfriendly environment by promoting the new business, or fix sidewalks and streets around the neighborhood, etc. then by all means they should do so. I'm not yet comfortable with the COE being a SBA bank, but on the other hand I am glad to see action and I'm willing to find out if this is a smart investment. 
There are great, attractive bars in far worse neighborhoods. Being scared of going out in the Howard corridor reminds me of the New Trier girls we used to bring to Evanston because they were impressed we rode the CTA because their parents told them it was too dangerous. Belmont west of Lincoln looks ugly and bedraggled just like Howard, stretches of Chinatown get nasty, Wicker Park can be very dangerous. 

Problems

HURR, first problem, you're assuming everyone has convenient access to the el. HURRR, second problem, you're assuming people are going to get trashed? Personal anecdote but I've never gotten trashed at a wine bar. HURR third problem you're assuming those that do wouldn't get a cab or some alternative means.
Let's face it, some people pay a lot for the convenience of a car and like to drive. I'm not assuming all people will drive. HURR, third problem, I never said *I* thought Howard was dangerous. I said many people do. And you yourself provided some great examples of those kinds of people. You know, the city has struggled with the gas station owner right next to the Metra viaduct about his allowed hours of operation because of several incidents of crime that go on there. Yes, it won't take everyone in the world to make a single business succeed, but new businesses need everyone they can get to be interested.
Let me tell you though, respectfully, that I agree with most of what you've said. I'm simply skeptical and I think, as you mentioned, as an investment it's got some somewhat questionable attributes that are not going for it and I'm not sure if something that seems more risky than maybe it should be is something the public should be "forced" to take a stake in.
I will say that perhaps the large apartment tower across Clark may prove a good source of patrons, their alternative being an el ride (or other transportation) to other parts of Chicago or Evanston.
All said I really wish this process the best, if it goes forward, and I hope the city can successfully create its vision for Howard street. I just have all these reservations I felt the need to express.
I'd like to try to argue that the Chicago neighborhoods with rough areas that you mentioned have a much different demographic -- younger, like to live in the city and deal with its issues -- but I don't have the heart for a back-and-forth, and I'm too lazy to find data. Let's just say that I think Northwestern students won't bother with the place, that the immediate neighborhood doesn't provide a lot of audience for this type of business, and that again, everyone else in town has a large array of perfectly fine choices that they have little or no incentive to stop exercising, and have chosen to live in Evanston because they don't want to be in areas like Howard street. Perhaps all of that is too assumptive, and you may be right to say so. We shall see.

Typical stereotype

You wrote:
"the immediate neighborhood doesn't provide a lot of audience for this type of business... ."
Really?  What do you know about the people who live in the neighborhood?  It is my neighborhood and I do know.
I am proud to live walking distance from this location.  I, and plenty of my neighbors, have more than enough money to enjoy an evening of 3-4 glasses of wine at a nicer establishment.
Who do you think lives in my neighborhood?  Oh, let me guess -- you think that at the south end of Evanston, we are all gang bangers, bums and no-job losers.  That's a stereotype, my judgmental friend.  My neighbors and I do not hang out on the corner, drinking from a beer bottle in a paper bag.  I don't even own a gun or do drugs.  Imagine that.
Spread the word as the view that we can't afford a nice evening out is wrong.

I'm glad that you are

I'm glad that you are successful and enjoy wine. Thanks for sharing.
I think you need to back off a little bit. I think you need to back off of your hyper-defensive stance of being insulted. I never intended to insult you or anyone who lives in that neighborhood. I spend 8 hours a day five days a week at work in a room-office with one coworker who lives at Callan and Brummel and he doesn't have really great things to say about it, so that may inform my perception. Jumping on people like this is not conducive to a sense of community. Skepticism about the feasibility of a new idea is healthy and shouldn't cause anyone to fly off the handle like this.
I don't appreciate that you took my statements, which I QUALIFIED as being not sound or based on any facts, and attributed a bunch more statements to me and called me judgemental. I hope if that is the way you communicate in real life I never run into you. Would you really interrupt and then cut out 1/3 of a sentence someone said and call them judgemental like this to their face?
As I said, I hope this takes off and Evanston gets another great corridor for people to stroll and enjoy diverse types of business along. I find Evanston Main, Dempster, and Florence-Crain to be a fantastic success of neighborhood building and I hope everyone no matter where they live can have it somehow.

South Side Neighborhood Pride

I needed to defend my neighborhood and my neighbors from unwarranted, biased statements.
When caught making judgmental, biased comments, you are adept at deflecting that criticism by calling names, whining I hope that I never meet you, and stammering that you qualified your baseless comments by saying they were baseless.  Good for you.  Play the victim. 
I never said I was "successful" or that I "like wine."  I wrote that I could afford 3-4 glasses of wine at a nicer establishment.
I ask you to please stop venting stereotypes about an area of town and the people who live there when you admit that you know virtually nothing about the area or those people.  That's what is not conducive to a sense of community and I am proud that I called you out on it.  If you visit the neighborhood, you will find that you will need to adjust your stereotypes.

Well

I am assuming that people who drink should be responsible, that's all. And people absolutely get trashed at wine bars, they just don't usually throw up in the alley next to the wine bar, but they get drunk enough to be unsafe drivers and that's really all I was concerned with. If they get a cab home, that's fantastic, and that was my point about parking at the Howard lot for the El: I've done that many times, and it always works great, so there is convenient parking for going out to this bar. I would hope that the three blocks from the Howard stop to the location wouldn't be considered inconvenient for most people during good weather, but I am concerned with the location when it comes to the 6 months of winter we have here. 
And if the hours are made to catch people as they come back from going out in one of the Chicago neighborhoods, I think it could be a very popular place for NU students. They go down to Lincoln, Wrigleyville, Wicker Park now, I could see why a nightcap at a bar while they wait for a cab with their friends would be fun and could become a tradition. The weather is probably less of a factor for young adults who were already taking public transit and walking, but once again the traffic during the cold will be harder to drum up.
Good economic development would be allowing restaurants/cafes/bars to stay open during hours that people would be more likely to use them, and rather than discouraging activity on Howard after 9 we should flip the script and encourage many more people to be on Howard after 9. Large crowds bring more lights and people paying attention.
Anyway, right, we're arguing about things that aren't the point: should the city be guaranteeing a risky business venture, is that the vision for economic development that we want? I'm not sure it creates as much wealth as having a bank loan the money, or a group of private investors, so I'm also interested to see how it pans out. 

Indeed! I hope to visit it

Indeed! I hope to visit it, and if it's great, I will try to come back as often as possible. I think there's a separation between ideals on what people want vs. what people will frequent. As to the other commenter's remarks about there being plenty of potential customers in the neighborhood, that may be true, but for a neighborhood business to succeed it needs to have more patrontage than just its neighbors. The rest of the population needed probably prefers to have wine near so many other options and things to do (e.g. downtown Evanston).
I think the Dempster-Dodge plaza is a pretty good example of plenty of excellent, wide-appeal businesess in proximity to plenty of money and people finding failure despite the interests of the neighborhood to have good options nearby. Heck, the D-D plaza is even at the intersection of two major roads, not tucked into a storefront in the middle of two intersections.
Okay, we shall see. We can only speculate so far.

A bar on Howard? Why are we paying for a Chicago Bar?

This city never ceases to amaze me in how they have no clue on how to manage money. Why are we paying for a bar that faces a neighboring city? There's more than enough other areas that have empty buildings that would benefit the majority of Evanston residents.

Seems small but

There is a theory about capturing revenue from residents outside of the city, meaning that by having a bar in Evanston but having Chicago residents go there, we're easing some of the tax burden on ourselves. I think that's wrong, but that's an argument you might hear. 
I think it doesn't really matter that much where the bar is considering we're all Illinoisians and Americans and we're all in the same tax crisis no matter which side of Howard, so I don't really see your point - do you only want Evanston money spent on Evanston people? How would that work? We have to pay for roads that other people drive on, we tax exempt hospital space that non-residents use, our fire trucks respond to neighboring cities, we share costs with other municipalities on recycling, I could keep going but I think you realize that what you said makes no sense by now. We pay for things we use, and we pay for things others use, and others pay for things we use. If there were bright clean shiny lines of demarcation, we would be in a different country (and these days that's not even the case). 

The bar and Evanston residents

Up to the early 1970s NU students and many residents in general would go to Howard Street for drinks [Beef & Stein, Biddy Mulligens(sp), Fankensteins and a few others and to Skokie for Chances Are and Ubba Tap. Or even down to the Loyola area. Even after Evanston relaxed their 'food with drinks' requirement [I recall a salad fit for two was not considered enough] students still went to Howard and Loyola----Evanston never had and probably never will have  anything to compare.
In fact for one reason or another Evanston has lost bars---Keg, Carmens had one, the one in the 1800 building, Yesterdays and probably others I've forgot about.
But will that cause NU students or most other residents to go to this new bar on Howard---I really doubt it.  Despite the types of places we lost, the proposed bar has nothing new to offer and certainly not to travel south for anyone north of Main---if that.
If the business does not fail on its own it will probably come under Evanston or even Chicago Liqour Commission thumb [or worse] in two years and be gone.
In any event, Evanston has no business making loans or deals for anything like this.  Our finances are bad enough! Lower taxes for all residents and businesses and the city getting rid of regulations that scare business away would go much further to making Evanston solvent and a place to move to [and not from].
Will the Council listen ?  All evidence says 'No'---they never seem to.

Can't think of a worse use of my tax dollars

My taxes keep rising, and Evanston keeps wasting the receipts. The city should not have purchased the site in the first place, the price would have declined until it was low enough for someone to make money from running a business there. Was the former owner connected to some alderman, and seeking a bailout from a poor investment? Government has no business subsidizing/funding private businesses (this is the role of banks & investors, who although some think no longer function, managed to fund other new businesses in town: tacos diablo, soulwich, Delbe's etc). I thought the city was in the business of closing bars (The Keg of Evanston). Government subsidizing business creates perverse incentives, such as picking winners and losers, instead of leaving that to the market (now makes more sense for us to restrict competition). This place won't remain open a full year: the area is an awful place for a wine bar, bums switching from north to south bound trains rarely stop for pinot grigio. Even more lost tax dollars.

The magical Free Market will solve everything

". Government subsidizing business creates perverse incentives, such as picking winners and losers, instead of leaving that to the market (now makes more sense for us to restrict competition). "
Blah blah blah "the Market" blah blah blah ...the Market always solves everything...blah blah blah... because the Market is always right.
It isn't that simple, and never has been.  This "Market" has never really existed...never in the history of the United States or any other country has a 'free market' determined the price of food, land, water, or housing.
I don't know if this particular project is a good idea, but the City cannot just let the mythical 'Free Market' solve every problem.   Perhaps the 'Free Market' will decide that Howard Street is a good location for animal rendering facilities, waste disposal sites, storefront churches, strip clubs, and junkyards.  Does anyone seriously believe that we should just let the mythical 'Market' run its course?
And remember, the "Market" can involve not just private actors, but the City or other public entities.  Doesn't the City have an interest in improving its tax base and neighborhoods?  Shouldn't the City be allowed to invest, just like private companies do? 
You might also want to read the argument of Aldo Musacchio in the Economist:
http://www.economist.com/debate/days/view/802

A free market probably

A free market probably wouldn't choose Howard Street for animal rendering facilities, waste disposal sites or junkyards. The lots are too small and land too expensive for such ventures better suited for rural areas.
Zoning (which is too strict in much of Evanston where it restricts density - since we are throwing out writers for The Economist check out the book Gated City by Ryan Avent) would also prevent this 'neighborhood effect'.
Strip clubs and store front churches, perhaps would locate there, but pay rent and stop the deterioration of a building so not sure that is a valid concern. As the area gentrified, they would surely move out due to high rent.
No, I certainly don't think the government should act as a venture capitalist in any situation. I don't want my tax money spent on private investments, any dollar spent on that would be better spent on fighting cirme (opportunity cost).
We are perhaps already seeing these perverse incentives in action as the aldermen are giving The World of Beer owner, who is likely to actually suceed, a hard time with his licence.
To attract businesses to the Howard Street area, perhaps the aldermen should lessen the tax burden on them instead of wasting our money.
 
 

That picture is pretty accurate?..

Can this archetect predict the future?.. The bar is empty and the shelves are almost the same.. ironic?
C'mon etown!
I'll stop by if I don't have to worry about getting mugged to/from my car.
Interested to see who's going to be running this joint however.

UNBelievable!!

Unbelievable that these entrepreneurs aren't even from Evanston, Unbelievable that anyone thinks people with a choice of where to spend their $ and time in Evanston would choose that area.  Unbelievable that tax dollars (which continue to skyrocket - even though our property values have tanked)  are being considered for such a venture when those funds should be used to shore up our ever growing educational system, buy neighborhood watch signs, pay for improvements in our parks...
I for one don't want no stinkin' Merlot!

This is just amazing. This

This is just amazing. This city cuts our library branches. We have to put a referendum to vote for a new school,and this city wants to use your tax dollars to build a new watering hole. At least the aldermen, will be able to have a fine glass of wine served along with their retard sandwiches.

Dumb Idea (x2)

A wine bar on Howard won't work. If you disagree please tell me why it would.
The city never should have sunk money into this building in the first place, now they are going to sink more ($130K) on fixtures for what is a horrible business model. When this couple bails after 12 months the city will be stuck with both a building and a wacked-out, out-of-place wine bar nobody wants.
The only thing that would help Howard would be for the 49th ward Chicago and the 8th ward Evanston to work out a singular master plan together. Unlikely, but the only best chance.
Cheers.

What is Evanston thinking?

My, my, another hairbrained scheme from Ann Rainey.  You do know this site isn't all that close to the Howard el station, don't you?

Business plan

Bill - would we be able to access the business plan under FOI rules?  If it was submitted to the city as part of this process, would we have a right to look at it?

Re: Business plan

Eric,
Much of the business plan is included in the council packet here.
Process for filing a FOIA request can be found here.
-- Bill

Biz plan

That business plan seems a little light and there seem to be some missing pages. Does anyone know where I could purchase a credit default swap speculating that the City doesn't get repaid in full on the loan? 

Hilarious!  I want in on that

Hilarious!  I want in on that default swap...This town is reaching new lows.  There oughtta be a law...Love that my taxes went up 20% while my home is worth half, and THIS is what they're spending the cash on. 

Wrong date on bar story?

Did anyone consider the bar story was not to be released until April 1?  Sure seems the right day for that story.

Wouldn't they make more money

Wouldn't they make more money financing a coffee shop in the heart of downtown? Also, wouldn't this be a more responsible option for the entire family?

howard bad rep

To those who comment on the location. I wonder, did you have the same issues 15/20 years ago prior to when the City made major improvements to the downtown area. Talk about a dangerous part of town that was. So why can't it be Howard Street's turn? Yes, there are issues with Howard Street but compared to years ago it has come a long way. I even recall 10 years ago turning to my friend and saying "OH MY GOD" as we drove through. Now I live there.
I too would enjoy walking to a bakery or a nice bar or whatever the future holds. Downtown Evanston is nice to do that but why can't South Evanston people enjoy that as well? Plus, Howard street has something that Downtown Evanston will never have. Groves of Evanston AND Chicago folks who are within walking shot of any business along Howard.
Say what you want to say about City Loans and taxes. When it comes to that stuff I agree with just about all of the concerns. What isn't fair is to say that Howard Street isn't the place for it. Turn the clock back in your head and see how far Downtown has come along. Turn the clock back and look at Chicago neighborhoods such as Andersonville/ Lakeview/ Lincon Park. All those places back in the early 90's were not so nice places.
 

City didn't make downtown improvements, private investors did

Not sure if you lived here 15 -20 years ago, but I did when I was a student at Northwestern
I distinctly remember "townies"  fighting against the movie theater development, and the student body laughing about it- because the area west of the CTA was a barren wasteland at the time.  
The city actually tried to stand in the way of this development! The city money didn't bring in the development, the developments came in spite of the city.
The only thing the city has added is some sculptures (i.e. the balance board sculpture above the parking garage that many compared to an Evanston taxpayer jumping to their death, or the red swirly thing next to the North Face shop), a new parking garage (which continues to lose money), and some festivals (i.e. tree lighting, Fountain Square art festival, etc.)  
The city government recently blocked the core of downtown from getting developed, even though there were developers lined up and ready, because many thought the proposal was too big, or an eyesore.  The developers were going to beautify fountain square too.

somewhat agree

First, I agree with your concern about the depths of which the City is getting invested here. Please re-read my post and you will see my statement there. Second, although I was to young to know what took place in the 70's but I'm sure the downtown's development required more from the City than flower pots, sculptures and red swirly things.
Again, the point of my post was not to dismiss the concerns of the City's role in this particular business. My post was to point out to those who stated that Howard has no hope in development.
Howard does have hope and I honestly believe that Howard has still yet to see it's hay day. But to achieve that vision it will require help from the City and all of it's residents.

Best hope for Howard Street

I"m not opposed to spending money in the Howard street area, but I am oppposed to the city government becoming bar, bakery, and theater financiers in this economy. I really don't think our aldermen are better than a bank in terms of deciding what is a good investment.  
I would rather have my tax money spent to keep the police and fire department strong. They are facing continual threats of layoffs.   I see the police blotter, and Howard street continually has crime- both small and large.  If you want people to get fancied up, go out, and drink wine, they need to feel safe first.    If you live there, you may feel safe- but the impression given from the police blotter is that Howard is not a safe place, in general.   I would rather have more police there first to reduce crime.  Let this be the incentive for private investors. 
I would rather have the tax money spent to keep the parks, around Howard and other parts of town, clean and neat.
I would rather have strong library services and community recreations activities.  For these things, I gladly pay my taxes.
I am against the city trying to mimic the function of a bank.  Where is the accountability?   Who will determine next year if this was a wise "investment"?
How much money was spent last year in "investments" such as these, and yet the returns of NONE of them were discussed at the economic development meeting.  Would a bank spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, feasibility studies, and "Investments" and then never discuss if the investment was worth while?

Evanston's best efforts

Evanston's best efforts can only help one half of Howard Street. The other half? I would agree with you if Evanston controlled both sides, like it does with downtown or other areas of the city proper. It's a misguided, if well-intentioned effort and will take a long time to generate tax revenues, if ever.

So we just write off the whole neighborhood?

Just because we don't have complete control over one side of the street?  If you'll notice, the storefronts on the Chicago side are much more attractive than those on the Evanston side (at least for much of the 600 block.)  The Chicago side of that block is also full of functioning businesses, unlike the current run-down empty stores on "our" side.  I appreciate the alderman's efforts to bring Howard street to life! 

I don't appreciate your alderperson use of our tax dollars

Jason - I do not appeciate Ann's use of our tax dollars to subsidize a private business with little if any collateral using all of our money.  Frankly if this fails can we take the $300,000 out of the fire department budget, as an Evanston fire fighter would you like to risk opening up this bar if after it fails we cut a fire fighter or two to make up for the loss of taxpayer money?   $300,000 is about 3/4% property tax increase, or should we not give fire fighters raises for one year to make up the difference?
Jason - you understand money has to come from some where, these continue misadventures of city council members with our tax dollars are very troubling.  They are not economic development activities, by the way I have been down on Howard street lately taking my dog to the vet, I think the neighborhood looks fine, what is Ann idea to open up a wine bar, close down the other businesses and churches which service the populaiton in the area?

But remember the late 70s

In the 70s Howard had a number of nice stores including a small gourmet restaurant, a health food store [grains, coffee, etc.] and Peking Duckling and La Cosha(sp) Mexican restaurant which were both famous and Biddy Muligens(sp).   Yuppies bought into East Lake Terrace thinking they would duplicate what happened on Halsted----it failed.
On the west side of Clark you had Edwardos Pizza and Frankensteins and a fine wine store.
Most of that development is long gone.  Now about all that is left is the development around the Howard CTA.
Betting on Howard area is a big gamble.

Howard Street

Having lived as a renter on Eastlake when all of those yuppies were buying in and for a number of years after, I had a front-seat view of the transition from a questionable neighborhood to.... well, I guess you could say a questionable neighborhood.  I walked Howard Street to/from the El every day and had the unique experience (for a country gal) of watching all kinds of people either defecating in the alleyways or purveying drugs. 
There was a truly concerted effort to turn over Howard Street and also to make Eastlake into a really great area.  Tennis courts were nicely paved, children's park playsets were upgraded and an effort was made to keep it clean, but the regular shootouts between cop and criminal in the alley just west of Easlake always happened after Biddy Mulligans closed up for the night.  I spent a few Sunday mornings being told by cops they couldn't let me leave my home because they were in a standoff with some ne'er do-well somewhere in the streetscape.
It doesn't matter how great a business model you have when your business is in an area where a person can walk three blocks in any direction from a nice neighborhood and be standing in a bad one... those folks who reside in bad areas will patron business establishments and inevitably cause trouble.  Bars aren't the only places that spawn trouble either.  In my experience, the problem even extended to the local laundromat where most people chatted amicably while getting the laundry done.  It was a place where we had to constantly be on the lookout for the folks who would pick a fight because they'd mentally marked a dryer as theirs and someone else innocently used it thinking it were free.  I've seen punches fly over such a triviality!  
When I visit Eastlake today, it seems rundown.  The tennis courts are host to numerous weeds forcing their way up through the numerous cracks and the buildings' grounds are not as nicely kept as they had been when I lived there.  Is this a reality, or have my many years as an Evanstonian colored my world view?  I will say the one thing I miss about living in Chicago is the political system - on that side of the Howard Street tracks, they make an effort to hide things when they aren't on the up-and-up.  Our Evanston city government has palle grandi.  They are so sure of their citizens they make no effort to tone it down... and we continue to live with it.

Booze and Whisky Bar

The three-story 629-31 Howard St. building, just east of the police outpost.
City and federal funds to subsidize establishment of a new BOOZE bar and WHISKY lounge in a city-owned building on Howard Street.
This is just down the street where several churches in the areas are working real hard to get children off of alcohol and drugs? I am praying for our city leaders.
alvinp
 
 
 

Wine bar is a conflict of interest

Supposing the wine bar on Howard is caught serving minors, how is the city going to manage such an illegal activity where they have a stake in the success of this business?  And what about public health inspections... will citations be issued if this place proves a hazard to the public health?  I don't have a lot of faith that Evanston will act in my best interest when they smell a dollar to be made.... I've lived here too long and have seen too many shenanigans.