Demolition work began this week on the Mather Gardens building at Davis Street and Hinman Avenue.

Bobcat unloaded

A workman drives a Bobcat off a semi-trailer truck at the Mather site.

Mather Lifeways received city permits for the demolition this week, 16 months after the Evanston City Council approved the project. The approval followed more than two years of sometimes bitter debate.

Under the plan, the eight-story Mather Gardens on the northeast corner of the intersection will be replaced with a new 11-story continuing care retirement facility that is now scheduled for occupancy in 2009.

Once that work is done, the former Georgian Hotel across the street on the southeast corner, will be replaced with a 10-story building.

The two facilities will be connected by a tunnel beneath Davis Street.

Davis Street

Construction barriers reduce Davis Street to a single lane.

The two new buildings will have a total of up to 245 independent-living residences, 24 assisted-living and 40 long-term-care residences and underground parking for 249 cars.

The redevelopment project will put the Mather property on the city’s tax rolls, and Mather has agreed to provide $30 million in financial assistance over 10 years, giving priority to Evanston residents and persons with family in Evanston.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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