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Construction up, new jobs down in Evanston

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A quarterly economic development report from the City of Evanston shows an increase in commercial construction projects, but a slower pace of new job creation in the first quarter of the year.

A rendering of the new Walgreens that was Evanston's biggest private commercial development project in this year's first quarter.

A quarterly economic development report from the City of Evanston shows an increase in commercial construction projects, but a slower pace of new job creation in the first quarter of the year.

The report, released this week, says permits for more than $10 million in new construction projects were issued last quarter, compared to $5.9 million in the 4th quarter of 2012.

The biggest project in the first quarter is a $6.3 million new Walgreens drug store (shown in a rendering above) replacing an existing one at 635 Chicago Ave.

In the fourth quarter the largest project was $1.2 million renovation project at Alden Estates at 2520 Gross Point Road.

Employers told city officials of plans to add 57 new full-time jobs in the first quarter, down by half from the 113 new full-time jobs announced in the fourth quarter.

During both periods the largest single source of new jobs was restaurant work, with retail and health-related businesses also showing significant job gains.

There was little change in building vacancy rates. Commercial vacancies declined from 7.0 to 6.7 percent. Office vacancy rates rose from 9.2 to 9.8 percent and industrial vacancy rates fell from 10.4 to 10.0 percent.

Evanston's office vacancy rate was substantially lower than that for other near north suburbs and about the same as for downtown Chicago. Commercial vacancy rates were similar for all three areas. Evanston's Industrial vacancy rate was substantially higher than that in the two other areas.

The city reported 11 newly opened businesses in the first quarter compared to 19 in the fourth quarter. The report did not track the number of businesses that closed in either period.

This is only the second quarter that the report has been issued, so year-over-year comparisons were not available.

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