The developers of the proposed 14-story student housing high-rise at 831 Emerson St. told Evanston’s Plan Commission Wednesday night that the project would be less expensive for its tenants than comparable buildings constructed recently in the city.

A representative from development partner CA Ventures said rents at the new development would range from $1,000 to $1,500 per bed, compared to averages ranging from $1,321 to $1,680 at seven other buildngs included in a market analysis.

The 831 Emerson units would be considerably smaller than apartments in the other developments — with studios starting at just 350 square feet, compared to an average of 550 square feet for studios in the other buildings.


But, unlike in the other buildings, apartments at 831 Emerson are planned to be provided fully furnished.

Justin Pelej of development partner Focus Development said the “per bed” pricing comparison reflected the developers’ plan to offer tenants individual leases based on their occupany of a bedroom within an apartment unit — rather than a joint lease with roommates for an entire apartment in the building, which is planned to have one through three bedroom units in addition to studios.

The somewhat unconventional leasing approach, Pelej said, is used by CA Ventures at its other student housing developments around the country. He said it gives students more flexibility, and limits their financial risk, when one roommate may leave to study abroad for a term or take an internship in a distant city.

Peter Isaac, foreground, with other Plan Commission members.

Plan Commission member Peter Isaac asked Planning and Zoning Division Manager Damir Latinovic to clarify what the city’s Design and Project Review Committee meant when it recommended approval of the project — but with an unspecified reduction in height.

Latinovic said that the staff was concerned mainly with the tallest, 14-story segment of the building. That might be reduced to 13-stories, Latinovic said. But he said staff also recognized that there were economic factors contributing to the proposed size of the project, which might dictate making other sections taller than now proposed. But at the same time, he said, the staff recognized the desirability from a design standpoint of having the structure divided into three sections with differing heights — now 14, 12 and nine stories tall.

Neighbors — the largest contingent from the Sherman Gardens cooperative development across the street — continued to raise objections to the project, and after hearing three hours of testimony, the commission voted to continue the hearing at its next meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

More coverage of the 831 Emerson project

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Follow the money. The
    Follow the money. The developers are into this for two reasons: (1) to make money from this project,(2) to publicize their business to make more money. Any of their comments, such as “serving the community” are basically irrelevant to their purpose.

    Are people clamoring for a new high rise? Or is the developer clamoring for a new hi rise?

    1. Yes, people are clamoring

      Without any doubt whatsoever it's people who are clamoring for a new highrise. Simply look at the occupancy rates of all the other similar built properties in Evanston and it becomes quite obvious that there is extremely high demand for these type of buildings. There really is no doubt about this, no matter how much the small handful of biased, student hating Nimby's try to discredit the idea. Fact is fact, demand still far outstrips supply.

    2. Non-subsized
      Not sure why we are fighting this guy. He’s Not even begging for a susbsidy like alot businesses in this town! Perhaps if he promised a medical Marijuana distributor or built a bar on Howard they’d leave him alone.

    3. Money follows demand
      If the developer is trying to make money, as are most people attempting to make a living, and the developer believes there is money to be made on this project, then is seems there is demand for this project (in other words… people clamoring). If the project fails and the developer loses money, then I guess people weren’t clamoring.

      1. NU Room/Board vrs apartment rental

        I have had questions about the number of NU students that would be interested in the 831 Emerson building.

        Having the units furnished would be a plus but rent based on ‘bed’ sounds a little odd and as far as I know new concept.  The developers would not like to have the city come after them for ‘brothel’ [too many people per room or house] violations like older buildings have supposedly had or multiple students per apartment [e.g. if they violate the no more than two people per bedroom city ordinance] like reports have of newer buildings like on Chicago Ave..

        In any event compare, as I’m sure parents if not students will, NU cost vrs. 831 [or other buildings costs].

        NU charges $8,200 for the three quarters [app.275 days] of housing.  That is $30 per day or equivalent to $895 per month.  However student have to make arrangements for intersession housing as well as for between end of Spring semester and graduation if staying in Evanston like a hotel which would be very expensive [if they don’t go home or stay with friends].

        The rent might not seem that high but when a 21 meal plan is added [$6,200 for three quarters or $22.50 per day which seems a lot and student can probably beat], the sum [R&B] is $1,570 on a monthly basis.   Perhaps enough to make a rental unit sound more feasible.

        Of course NU won’t allow off campus housing options for  Freshmen or Sophomores. 

        1. Correction to costs

          I could not read my own handwriting.  There are 225 not 275 days in the three quarters.

          That means Room is $36.44 per day [$1093 for a 30 days rental] and meals $27.55 for a total of $64 per day or $1920 for a 30 day month for Room and Board. Again students probably would not spend $27 per day for meals in their apartment so some of that could go for rent perhaps making rent affordable.  

  2. Is this building for

    Is this building for Northwestern students only, or can any regular citizen of Evanston rent there? I am just asking because all the conversation have been about NU and its students.

    1. Who’s the building for

      Hi Seymour,

      Legally, under fair housing laws, the private developer can't limit rentals to NU students — or to students generally.

      But, given the small sizes of the units and the marketing effort directed toward students, the expectation, based on experience with similar developments elsewhere, is that the vast majority of residents would end up being students or recent graduates.

      — Bill

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