Evanston Plaza TIF vote held for talks with grocer
Evanston aldermen chose Monday to delay a final vote on the Dempster-Dodge tax increment financing district to try bring the center's anchor tenant on board with the plan.
With one alderman absent, it appeared the TIF proposal had the five votes needed to pass, but one supporter, Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, suggested the delay.
Holmes said she was concerned about whether the anchor tenant, a Dominick's supermarket, would agree to waive provisions in its lease that allow it to block many other businesses -- like a bowling alley or other family entertainment business -- that might compete for parking.
Another supporter, Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said the parking restrictions are unrealistic in the half-vacant center.
"You could roll a bowling ball through the parking lot and not hit anything," Rainey added.
Although Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said she'd rather talk to Dominick's with the incentives available through the TIF already in place, the aldermen voted 5-3 in favor of the delay.
Top and above: The outlot building at the shopping center -- many vacancies and temporary tenants, like the Evanston library's summer storefront.
Three aldermen voiced broader reservations about the TIF, which would capture any increase in property tax revenue from the center for the 23-year-life of the TIF and use those funds for projects designed to enhance the economic value of the property.
Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, claimed that the proposal doesn't meet state requirements for a TIF designation because it includes just a single parcel of already developed land.
And Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, said he shared Burrus' concerns.
But the city's TIF consultant, Bob Rychlicki of Kane McKenna, said the proposal does meet state standards, and provided examples of several similar projects in other communities.
Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said the plan was insufficient -- in that it doesn't specify what the site is going to look like when the TIF's work is done.
But Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said the Howard-Ridge TIF approved in 2004 didn't have a specific plan either -- and didn't describe the high-rise apartment building at 415 Howard that's become the key to that development.
And Rainey said other TIFs in town that have have been highly successful didn't end up developing in the ways that were originally envisioned.
Holmes said she strongly supports the TIF, but "would like to see everybody on the same page and have a large majority on the council behind it" -- in voting for a four-week delay in the decision.