The value of new construction projects started in Evanston in September rebounded to $13.2 million from $11 million in August. But overall, a city report shows construction work is down by 32 percent so far this year from the same period a year ago.

The city gets nearly five percent of its general fund revenue from building permit fees. The fees last fiscal year topped $4 million, and Community Development Director James Wolinski has forecast about the same amount for this year.

But despite an increase in fees for multi-million dollar projects, fee revenue for the fiscal year that started in February is running nearly 12 percent below the same period last year. For the calendar year, the fees are off nearly 19 percent.

The 2005 numbers were helped by the start of construction on the Sherman Plaza complex in March. This year the biggest single project has been work on the Three Crowns retirement community, which started in July.

For the year so far, new multi-family projects account for nearly 37 percent of the total value of construction work. Rehab of existing residential buildings adds up to another 25 percent and work on existing business structures totals 14 percent.

Schools account for 7 percent and construction of new single family homes represents 5 percent.

The remaining 12 percent is split into several categories, from condo conversions to new garages. There’s been no new construction on industrial buildings in Evanston this year and hardly any work on existing industrial buildings, as industry continues to decline as a source of business activity in the community.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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