Evanston to receive roughly $1 million with the closing of downtown TIF district


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle.

Hitesh Desai at a City Council meeting. Desai said the closing of the downtown tax increment financing district will provide around $1 million to help close the city’s budget deficit.

Alex Wong, Reporter

Evanston will receive around $1 million at the end of the year with the closing of a tax increment financing district in downtown Evanston.

The Washington National TIF District, which includes the Fountain Square Plaza, will expire on Dec. 31, said Hitesh Desai, the city’s chief financial officer and city treasurer.

TIF districts are usually created for areas the city deems unattractive to private investment. In TIF districts, property tax revenues above a certain baseline are reallocated for public works or economic development improvements in the area. Since the Washington TIF district was established in 1994, property values overall have risen from $26 million to $86 million.

“This particular TIF ended up being fairly effective and impactful,” Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) said. “The downtown needed a lot to get it functioning and more appealing to people… I do think a lot of economic development can be attributed to the projects that were funded by this.”

The city’s proposed 2019 budget accounts for the TIF district closing, and documents show the $1 million helped reduce the projected deficit — now $7.4 million — by giving tax revenue back to the general fund. Going forward, the city will continue to receive tax revenues from the area each year.

The TIF model almost entirely funded the Fountain Square renovation, which was completed this year. The renovation created more outdoor seating and event space with an open plaza area, interactive fountain and war memorial.

The TIF model also funded projects such as the repaving of downtown roads and the construction of Sherman Plaza and the Whole Foods Market building.

“The district now seems to be fairly desirable, and we have a number of developers wanting to do things there,” Wilson said.

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