New construction work in Evanston is running substantially below the pace of last year.

Building permit fees for the first five months of the year are down 50.6 percent from the same period a year ago.

Excluding the month of March, which saw a big spike in 2005 when permits were issued for the Sherman Plaza project downtown, the decline is more modest – down 23 percent this year from last.

So far this year 32 percent of the construction value of building permits issued has been for renovation of existing residential buildings, with 23 percent for existing businesses.

New single family construction has totalled 7 percent, new multi-family 5 percent, and condo conversions 2 percent. New business construction has totalled 6 percent.

Schools and churches account for 11 percent of the construction work and miscellaneous uses come in at 12 percent. Garages account for 1 percent.

There’s been essentially no construction work on new or existing industrial uses so far this year.

City officials projected a 20 percent decline in building permit revenue for the fiscal year that started March 1 when they adopted the city budget in February because nothing of the size of the Sherman Plaza project appeared to be in the pipeline.

Building permit fees last year topped $4 million, and represented about five percent of the city’s general fund revenue.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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