Evanston Plaza, also known as the Dempster/Dodge Shopping Plaza, has gone into receivership, it was reported at the April 26 City Council meeting. The plaza, owned by Joseph Freed & Co., joins its pricier colleague, Chicago’s Block 37 in Freed receivership.
City officials say they plan to discuss the future of the shopping center, which has never been fully tenanted, at the April 28 Economic Development Committee meeting.
Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, in whose Second Ward the shopping center lies, said City officials plan to meet with the tenants of the plaza to see what, if anything, can be done.
In opening the plaza, Freed negotiated a sales-tax-sharing agreement with the City, under which the City would remit to the developer its portion of the sales tax up to a certain amount. A few years ago, Freed asked to renegotiate that agreement, with the promise of bringing in Steve and Barry’s as an anchor tenant. Steve and Barry’s declared bankruptcy before even opening its store in Evanston.
A second agreement in connection with the plaza was a promise by Freed to create a Neighborhood Improvement Fund, which groups in the area of the plaza could use to help mitigate the effects of the commercial development. The most recent project was the neighborhood plantings on several corners in the Dempster/Dodge area.
Residents also planned to use NIF funds to help jumpstart the Grandmother’s Park initiative, which would turn a vacant lot on Dewey Avenue into a tot lot. When the group applied for funds, they were told that the NIF had never been fully funded. Several weeks ago the RoundTable asked Assistant City Manager Martin Lyons about the fund and the funding levels. He said he would give the RoundTable the information as soon as he had apprised the City Council – something that as of this writing had not been done.