The construction business in Evanston got off to a strong start for the year last month when Bristol Chicago Development pulled construction permits for nearly $40 million of work on its rental high-rise building at 413-421 Howard St.

The construction business in Evanston got off to a strong start for the year last month when Bristol Chicago Development pulled construction permits for nearly $40 million of work on its rental high-rise building at 413-421 Howard St.

As a result, building permit fees collected by the city were up almost 400 percent from the anemic level reached in December.

But not much else was happening on the construction front last month. The Bristol project accounted for about 85 percent of the total value of permitted projects. In a more typical month, multi-family residential projects account for about 32 percent of the total value of construction work in Evanston.

The city gets nearly five percent of its general fund revenue from building permit fees. The fees last fiscal year reached $4.2 million. Although fees for multi-million dollar projects were increased by 50 percent, fee revenue for the fiscal year that ends this month is only $90,000 ahead of what it was at the same point last year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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