It won’t happen until after road construction next summer, but strings of white light bulbs should be going up over Main Street near Chicago Avenue, just like what’s on the east side of Dempster Street at Chicago now.
At Thursday evening’s annual business meeting of the Main Dempster Mile marketing group, executive director Katherine Gotsick outlined a series of plans for the community, including the lights.
Due to street construction on Main in 2023, the goal is to have the lights installed next fall, in plenty of time for the Holidays.
The look “will be glorious” once the bright bulbs are up, Gotsick said.
This was MDM’s seventh annual meeting, but the first in person since October, 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lists of businesses which have opened or closed since then were posted on the wall of City VW, where the meeting was held.
The number has been pretty much a wash, with 35 shutting their doors, 28 new ones opening, and three existing businesses expanding.
Gotsick said considering the COVID impact on many business districts regionally and nationally “it’s a real blessing” how Main Dempster has ended up.
“We feel good” about it, she added.
“During COVID, we kept the character of independently owned businesses” in the neighborhood, she said. And some of the newcomers have more employees than the stores they replaced.
Owners of five new businesses were recognized during the meeting, including Trinity Collins, who works at Monarch Fitness Coaching, which is actually owned by her mother, Heather Collins.
The exercise/training studio is just a few blocks from where Trinity grew up in the Main Dempster district.
Now a senior at Northwestern, Trinity said “there’s something special about Evanston.”
Future neighborhood developments include an extensive showroom renovation at City VW, and new apartment buildings at 1012 Chicago Avenue and at the site of the former Vogue Fabrics building on Main.
Those new apartments will attract new residents, who in turn will need places to shop and places to eat.
The hope, of course, is having more people in the community will mean attracting still more new businesses.
The MDM organization has invested $1.3 million in economic development and public space activities in the community since 2015, Gotsick said, with more to come.
“I’m bullish on the businesses that have chosen to be here,”she said.
There are two more businesses that residents have said they’d really like to see.
First is an ice cream shop, the most popular answer to a survey question “What would you like on the first floor of the apartment building on the Vogue site?”
And the other building on the community wish list?
“A bowling alley,” Gotsick said.
“We want Main Dempster Mile to be a creative urban environment with an iconic small town personality,” she noted.
A bowling alley would be a perfect fit.