History of Downtown Skokie

At one time, the retail/commercial focus for Skokie and neighboring suburbs was centered in the Village's Downtown. From the 1940's to the early 1960's, Downtown Skokie was one of the busiest retail centers in Metropolitan Chicago. The area originally capitalized on its inherent strengths—location close to a major expressway and other public transportation—and being surrounded by dense residential developments. By the mid-1960's, other nearby suburban shopping malls began to affect sales activity in Downtown Skokie due to convenient parking, expansive enclosed mall areas, national retail chain presence and coordinated management and promotional activities that were successful in attracting customers. 

In response to this consumer shift, the Village of Skokie made major capital improvements to Downtown roadways and streetscapes during the late 1970's and early 1980's, as well as constructing additional parking lots, expanded sidewalks and increased landscaping. In 1990, in response to a number of negative market influences such as a decline in the Village's overall population and the increasing number of competitive strip centers being built in areas not far from Downtown Skokie, the Village established a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District encompassing the majority of Downtown by extending almost to Main Street to the north and to the southern edge of Oakton Community College.  Successful mixed-use developments ensued following the Village's aggressive approach to area redevelopment and millions of dollars in TIF funds were leveraged to attract such notable retailers as Walgreens, Fresh Market on Oakton Street and Aldi Foods as well as such local operators as Eurostyle Deli, CasaElegante Furniture, In Print Gallery, Sweet Fantasies Nuts and Candy and several dozen additional retail and restaurant users since 1990.

As a result of the considerable growth that has occurred in the Downtown since the TIF District's inception, the Village downsized the TIF District in 2005 and returned almost 50% of the new developments to the overall levy base which benefited all of the overlapping taxing districts prior to the end of the TIF. The overall TIF budget was then amended in early 2010 to allow for additional land/property acquisition, infrastructure upgrades, a potential public parking garage, investments in new developments and business incentive programs for the final years of the TIF District, which is scheduled to expire in 2014. Please click here for a complete summary of the amended Downtown TIF District as well as a map of the TIF district.