TIF 5th Ward District proposal approved by Evanston City Council

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Daily File Illustration by Meher Yeda

The District Funding Tax Hikes in Evanston’s 5th Ward is expected to increase property values ​​in the neighborhood, which has sparked months of controversy amid fears the TIF could accelerate gentrification.

City council approved a district tax increase funding in Evanston 5th Ward on Monday night in a 5-4 vote, following two delayed votes and months of controversy.

The board approved a consultative study for the TIF in February, which kicked off a period of extended debate. For some members of the community, the TIF represents an opportunity to increase property values ​​and improve infrastructure in the 5th arrondissement. Others, however, see it as a catalyst for accelerated gentrification at a particular cost to longtime, low-income, black homeowners.

A TIF is a zoning tool that collects all taxes above a base amount in an area for 23 years. The money collected is then used to finance public works and community development projects in this region.

The five-fifths TIF is expected to generate gross profit of around $ 77 million before contributions from schools and libraries, according to Nina Coppolla of Kane, McKenna and Associates, the city’s TIF consultant. The region primarily encompasses the historic Black 5th district and includes commercial corridors as well as residential neighborhoods. This is Evanston’s fifth active TIF and the ninth in existence.

[To learn more about the history of TIFs in Evanston and the controversy surrounding the Five-Fifths TIF, read our explainer here.]

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) congratulated Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) at Monday’s meeting for TIF historical list of usage restrictions. It is the first to prioritize residential areas over commercial areas and will be overseen by a residents’ advisory committee, with three of the seven committee members expected to live in the TIF neighborhood.

The 5th Ward TIF is also the first to be accompanied by an intergovernmental agreement uniting Evanston / Skokie School District 65 and City Council on the main intended uses of TIF funding.

The final agreement says District 65 will make a good faith effort to establish a school within the boundaries of the TIF zone in Ward 5. The agreement does not specify whether the school will be built with TIF funds.

According to TIF’s final proposal, the city plans to prioritize the use of funds for projects supporting homeownership, affordable housing and workforce development. But the city will not use funds for a prominent estate, funding a new civic center or developing luxury residences “out of character with the existing community”.

Many residents at Monday’s meeting called for clearer language defining affordable housing, to ensure that housing developments funded by TIF dollars legitimately prioritize and protect low-income residents.

Former teacher Trisha Connolly suggested the proposal could have been more specific by focusing on residents earning 30 to 60% of the region’s median income. This is similar to the standard used by Cook County to determine eligibility for rent relief.

TIF has also faced opposition from several community organizations in recent months. Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) said she shared many concerns with community members regarding the financial impact of TIF. She said it would divert money from school districts and public service budgets over time.

“We have to figure out how to budget our priorities,” Kelly said, “and not use a tool that has such a long history – and a pervasive history – to have a negative impact on communities.”

The TIF district is expected to generate $ 900,000 by 2025, according to Paul Zalmezak, director of economic development for the city. Approximately 12% of this amount will be collected from all senior residences at 1815 Ridge Ave. Another 8% will come from the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, provided the building is renovated and converted into housing, Zalmezak said.

Former aldermanic contender Darlene Cannon has called for a more detailed plan to protect Black, Brown and Indigenous residents from the price of their current homes in the wake of TIF’s effect on property values. She asked if the final version of the TIF was doing enough to reflect the city’s stated priorities for affordability.

“The TIF is an economic development tool,” Cannon said. “However, it is not without danger. As we continue to use this tool, I ask, are the leaders of our city willing to complete the gentrification project in Evanston? “

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @ilana_arougheti

Related stories:

Le Quotidien explains: What is happening with the 5th neighborhood TIF?

5/5 Opponents of TIF demand council reject it at residents’ meeting

Evanston Community Raises Concerns About Proposed Fifth Ward TIF District



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