At the April 27 City Council meeting, members of a steering committee presented their goals and findings about a proposed special service area (SSA) for merchants and commercial-property owners in the Main/Chicago/Dempster area.

SSAs are special taxing districts, often within municipalities, that can levy taxes to expand services in the area.

The proposed SSA will include commercial property only, and its revenues can be used to cover certain costs within the area, such as marketing, landscaping, and infrastructure.

Downtown Evanston, the marketing group for the central business district, is a special service area. The SSA can set its own taxing rate. The steering committee for the Main/Chicago/Dempster SSA has proposed a tax rate of 0.355% and a tax cap of 0.45%.

Those who explored the creation of the SSA are Shaun Chinsky of Good’s of Evanston, Christopher Duquet of Christopher Duquet Fine Jewelry, Richard Fisher of Autobarn, Jaime Leonardi of Stumble & Relish, Dawn Okamoto of Secret Treasures, Jessica Oldani of Oldani Entrepreneurial Law, Tim Peterson of Squeezebox Books & Music, Rogie Sussman of Vogue Fabrics, resident John Szostek and Malik Turley of Hip Circle Studio.

Members of the steering committee said they felt the SSA would provide increased business activity, improved streetscape, greater events and an easing of the burden on volunteers.

New landscaping, wayfaring signs and a new website are among the near-term priorities.

Their vision is that the Dempster/Chicago/Main SSA would be “a vibrant and inviting destination full of diverse neighborhood charm and unique shopping, dining, business, and entertainment just steps from trains and the lakefront.”

The proposed SSA would include the commercial properties within an area bounded approximately on the north by Greenwood Street, on the south by Keeney Street, on the west by Elmwood Avenue, and on the east by Hinman Avenue.
A 60-day period is allowed for objections to be filed and one person spoke in opposition at the April 27 hearing. If no objections are filed, the proposed SSA levy and boundaries could be considered by City Council as early as June 22, with adoption expected at the July 13 City Council meeting.

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...