$12 million mixed-income development nears completion – Evanston RoundTable

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David Brown, president at Harrington Brown, talks to Mayor Daniel Biss and Council member Devon Reid (8th) prior to the Evanston Gateway hard hat tour Friday.
David Brown, president of Harrington Brown, talks to Mayor Daniel Biss, left, and Council Member Devon Reid, center, prior to the Evanston Gateway hard hat tour Friday. Credit: Manan Bhavnani

Public officials and members of the media were invited to walk through the construction site of a new mixed-income development as it near completion after five years.

“This is a good day,” Mayor Daniel Biss said, lauding the project’s affordable housing provisions. “We want people here,” he said, referencing the site’s previously underused nature.

The five-story property, called Evanston Gateway, is located at the intersection of Howard and Chicago streets, and offers skyline views of downtown Evanston and Chicago as well as Lake Michigan.

The project, Harrington Brown’s first development in Evanston, is expected to cost about $12.5 million, said David Brown, president of the Chicago-based real estate firm. With the project at an advanced stage, Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss and Eighth Ward Council member Devon Reid touted its significance.

“I’m a huge fan of mixed-income development,” Reid said. During the Friday visit, he advocated for a grocery store and coffee shop in the building. However, “providing residents with what they need” is a priority, he said.

Others involved with the project were equally upbeat about its impact. “This [building] will offer great homes” to the city, its residents, students and visitors alike, Brown said.

Project details

With four floors and 28 residential units, the building is expected to have 5,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. Five of the 28 units will be designated as affordable housing, Brown said.

A view of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan as seen from the rooftop of Evanston Gateway.
A view of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan from the rooftop of Evanston Gateway. Credit: Manan Bhavnani

The site, which sits on the edge of Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, was previously hemmed in by a parking lot and auto repair store. For several years, Brown said, the “derelict” site faced major issues in the form of environmental contamination and two underground tanks.

The developer received a $110,000 credit from the city to clean up the soil and remove the storage tanks.

After acquiring the site in 2017, the company presented a number of designs to various city and community bodies before the current iteration was decided on. That year, Harrington Brown was given the 10,000-square-foot parking lot previously held by the city, along with about $2 million from the TIF fund. (In a TIF district, the tax increment – the difference between the property tax revenues on the parcel as it went into the TIF and as improved – remain within the TIF to be used for public projects, such as infrastructure.) Council members, however, denied an additional $1 million the company had requested.

Evanston investment

Evanston Gateway represents an important investment, according to Paul Zalmezak, the city’s economic development division manager. “The property taxes generated here will help with the increasing cost of social services and infrastructure,” he said.

Mug shot
Paul Zalmezak Credit: Twitter

According to a 2017 report presented by the developers, the building is expected to generate between $87,000 and $124,000 in property taxes in its first year at full occupancy. Meanwhile, Council member Reid said Friday he hopes the project will help revive business opportunities in the area.

In the summer of 2021, Harrington Brown brought in Chicago-based developer LG Group to assist with construction. Brown described the project as a “private-public partnership.”

“Developments don’t happen in a vacuum, ” said Jack Ryden, director of development at LG Group.

Brown said the project’s path, since 2016, has involved a “collaborative process” with more than 30 meetings and presentations, as well as working with former 8th Ward Council Member Ann Rainey. Brown said some developers can have an adversarial relationship with the city or with the community.

However, he said the company was mindful of the city and the community’s interests and priorities. “We listened to them, and ended up with a better project for it,” he said.

Construction at Evanston Gateway is expected to be completed by February 2023, with residents set to move in soon after. Brown said he hopes to see as many as 50 people call the building their home.

“We’re pretty certain [on the timeline]. We’ll be ready for residents on March 1,” he said.

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December 4, 2022 at 05:39PM

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