The residential building in the Main-Chicago TIF district is 99% full. Development in other parts of the TIF are proceeding apace.

Concerns that new projects could erode the economic stability of some businesses along Main Street tempered the good news that the projects are viable and in the works. News of a third project appears neutral. All three projects are located in the Chicago-Main tax-increment financing (TIF) district.

718 Main St., Vogue Fabrics Building

Plans for the redevelopment of the Vogue Fabrics building on Main Street are making their way through City committees, to be headed for City Council consideration.

At the Dec. 10 meeting of the Joint Review Board, City Economic Development Manager Paul Zalmezak said Vogue Fabrics officials wished to consolidate their operations and warehouse in a different Evanston location and had been quietly marketing the property for redevelopment.

The building, he said, “was kind of a dark, dark spot on the business district.”

Earlier this month, the City’s Plan Commission unanimously approved a plan for a five-story mixed-use project at 718 Main St., which Mr. Zalmezak said will serve as an anchor for the shops on Main Street west of Chicago Avenue.

 

The rendering above shows the new residential-retail project on the site of the Vogue Fabrics building. A pathway between this building and the Good’s building will lead from Main Street to the parking lot in the rear of the site. Rendering from materials submitted to the City of Evanston

Main Street Corridor Infrastructure Improvements

The City has received a $500,000 grant from the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways to help offset the cost of its Main Street Corridor Improvement Project. The project will include the reconstruction of Main Street to improve the pedestrian environment, including sidewalks, ADA accommodations, and pedestrian access to transit, as well as new streetscaping elements, roadway, and water main improvements. 

Rendering of Main Street Corridor Streetscape looking east from Sherman Avenue, from City of Evanston materials.

The project is currently in the design phase, with water main improvements scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2021, and streetscape, roadwork, lighting and other improvements scheduled for 2022.

These improvements could coincide with the Vogue Fabrics project. Katherine Gotsick, Executive Director of the Main-Dempster Mile, the business association in that area, said the infrastructure project and the Vogue Fabrics project “are of great concern. … My main focus is the businesses, and they’re all extremely vulnerable right now, because just as we’re emerging from the pandemic.

“They’re going to have the slowdown [from] this. They’ll be digging out, and this will extend the period with which they have to dig out. We’ve been very lucky. I have had 10 businesses close in the district or move out of the district since the pandemic. We have an equal number that have opened, frankly. So we’re like business neutral. But I don’t think we’ve seen the largest movement. … I don’t think that will happen until after the last of any sort of stimulus or grants. That’s when we’ll see the largest movement.”

910-38 Custer Ave., Evanston Commons

Developer Kevin Lee of Evanston Custer last year received approval from the City’s Plan Commission for Evanston Commons, a 40-unit townhome development in five separate buildings on the site of the former Dard Manufacturing. Mr. Lee’s is the third company to propose a development for that site. The original proposal included the desire to purchase the City-owned parking lot on Main Street, adjacent to the former Ten Thousand Villages site.

At the Dec. 10 meeting of the Joint Review Board, composed of representatives of all taxing bodies affected by a TIF district, Mr. Zalmezak said the present owner is looking for a buyer.

The rendering, from materials presented to the City of Evanston, shows proposed townhomes on the former site of Dard Products, a light manufacturing company founded in 1946 that provided promotional products such as key-chains.

In a TIF district, the tax increment – the difference between the property tax revenues as the property went in to the TIF (the base) and those on the property as improved (the increment) – can be used for public improvements, such as infrastructure, within the district.

The Chicago-Main TIF stretches along or near Chicago Avenue from Dempster Street to Oakton Street, extending both east and west at Main Street to include most of the commercial properties there. Created in 2013 with a base equalized assessed valuation (EAV) of $11,489,119, its 2019   EAV was reported at $16,672,570.