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City hits building permit fee record

The City of Evanston has set a new record for building permit revenue with two months left to go in its fiscal year. But prospects for the new year may not be so promising.

Community Development Director James Wolinski says the new record of $4.02 million in base building permit fees was set the day after Christmas when Evanston Northwestern Healthcare took out permits totaling $615,000 for rehabilitation work on operating rooms at Evanston Hospital.

The old record was set in 2005-06, when base building permits totaled $3.97 million. Since then the city has raised the rates for permits for projects exceeding $1 million from 1.5 percent to 2 percent of the project cost.

But with the real estate market cooling both nationally and locally, several projects that might have brought in new permit revenue in the coming fiscal year seem to be on hold.

Developers of The Eastwood, a planned four-story, 47-unit condo building on the former site of the Evanston Theater, are scheduled to ask aldermen Jan. 14 for a one year extension of time to begin construction.

Wolinski says the developers still have some hopes of being able to start work by the current deadline in March, but because of slow sales for the project they want to have an extra year to begin work on the planned development project.

New single family homes don’t seem to be a hot ticket either. After years of fighting plans for multi-family development of the site, neighbors won what they saw as a victory when the City Council approved single-family homes for the former Kendall College site in September 2006.

But after developer Smithfield Properties paid to demolish the Kendall buildings last summer, it put the land on the market, so far apparently with no takers. And the neighbors are looking out at a vacant lot.

Wolinski said he’s still waiting for a firm new proposal to emerge for the 1515 Chicago Ave. site. Tentative plans floated this summer for a 12-story building on the property have not moved forward. In July 2006, the City Council rejected an 18-story project on the site proposed by David Hovey’s Optima Inc.

And Wolinski said he’s heard that the site at 1001 Chicago Ave., originally proposed for a six-story condo building and more recently for townhouses may be up for sale.

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