Actually, I moved out of Evanston (lived there for years) precisely because our stupid city council adopted all that high-density, "smart growth" strategy in the worst possible ways. There have been some reasonable successes (the core downtown area) but even those were the result of years of failure and really poor civil planning.
The funny thing is that even the most successful portion of the strategy effectively just recreated the downtown that existed in the 30s-60s. Downtown Evanston used to be defined by the Sherman corridor - it was a hub of shopping (a gorgeous fieldstone Marshall Fields being the anchor), entertainment (a large theater), shops and restaurants and a large parking garage. Over the years, the mix of business changed (the Fields and theatre closed, Barnes and Noble moved in) because Old Orchard and the like siphoned away all the energy and retail (with lots of parking).
The new downtown is just... newer. It hasn't really changed all that much. A few things shifted (the Barnes and Noble moved across the street, the old parking garage was knocked down and rebuilt with some new, low quality retail, the theatre is now Maple) but Sherman is still struggling, Davis is in the midst of rebuilding mostly due to fires and the same restaurants have just moved around (Dave's Italian Kitchen, the Chinese place, Lulu's, etc.).
Major retailers still can't stay open (the Gap is gone, Borders is gone, the Buffalo Wild Wings is gone, Puck's is gone) and while some of them have been replaced with similar or lower quality entrants, chunks of it are now being bought up by our wildly expansionist hospital system for doctors offices. The big new opening of late is a tiny Sprint store on the prime Sherman/Church corner that is the exact center of "downtown" Evanston. Half the building is still vacant but will probably be fronted by an ATM branch of some national bank while the core of the building is empty.
And the TIF financing did no great favors for the school district or city coffers - the city still has endemic budget problems that were supposed to be solved by "smart growth" - bring in childless Gen Y/Millenials and get all that yummy tax money with no kids and no cars... But those people start having kids and then need cars because there are no grocery stores (one of the "smart growth" plans knocked down the only neighborhood grocery on the south side of the city and replaced it with a high-density townhouse development with inadequate parking - all of whom have to drive to Chicago just to get groceries).
The whole thing is a mess. 20 years from now, it will be redeveloped again. The only reason Evanston survives its crappy city council is because 25K Northwestern students keep the downtown at least somewhat viable. Which is great for those of us ex-Evanstonians who live close by and can park at the two big garages and walk to the same restaurants that we ate at when we were kids (Buffalo Joe's!).