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Building permit revenue falls off cliff

The value of building permits issued in Evanston dropped by nearly half in the first two months of this calendar year, compared with the same period a year ago.

That’s a far sharper drop than the reduction of about 20 percent that city officials projected for the fiscal year that started March 1 when they adopted the city budget last month.

The budgeted decline was based on the lack of a new project in the construction pipeline of the size of the Sherman Plaza development downtown that is scheduled for completion later this year.

Building permits represent about five percent of the city’s general fund revenue, or about $4 million – money that otherwise likely would have to come from the property tax.

Community Development Director James Wolinski said part of the problem is that many development projects were put on hold while the city’s Plan Commission spent six months reviewing Mather Lifeway’s plans for two new buildings at Davis Street and Hinman Avenue.

That project was finally approved by the City Council on March 13.

Mr. Wolinski said he expects permit revenue to increase dramatically within the next six months.

He said the major expansion of the Three Crowns Park retirement community in northwest Evanston should start construction shortly as should a condominium development at 1228 Emerson St.

In addition, he said another one or two major developments are in the review process before the Plan Commission.

Building permit revenue for January and February this year totaled $307,457, compared to $599,729 in the same months of 2005. Permit revenue for the fiscal year had been up nearly 10 percent for the first 10 months of the fiscal year, but closed out the year up just 1.5 percent.

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